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Baby boomers are innovators and pioneers, and after leading transformations on many fronts from environmental protection to women’s rights, they are now leading the healthy aging movement.
That’s according to the Natural Marketing Institute, which notes that healthy aging encompasses an array of multifaceted drivers, from financial health to social health to nutritional health, among many others. How boomers are dealing with these drivers is helping to define the new aging paradigm.
While boomers have grown up in a time where medical advancements have helped to alleviate many conditions and disease states, they are still exhibiting struggles with their health as a more sedentary lifestyle and poor diet habits have taken their toll. One-quarter of boomers state they are less healthy than they expected to be at their current age; in fact, boomers’ self-described health rating (as being very good to excellent) has dropped from 53 percent in 2005 to 37 percent in 2011. What’s more, the biggest fear of aging is not dying, but losing mental capacity, as stated by 45 percent of boomers. Conversely, three-quarters of boomers state they are very concerned about their health and are actively managing it — perhaps a bit of counter-culture mentality.
Physical health is also highly connected to financial health as loss of one has strong implications for the other. While the aging population has a renewed responsibility for taking care of their health in order to delay aging and prevent disease, they are also being driven to health due to uncertainty about the future of the health care system (84 percent) and fear that a major illness will destroy their financial security (72 percent).
Money issues continue to show high growth in importance from concerns over money for retirement to having enough money for health care. Only two out of five boomers state they are on target with their financial plan for retirement; over half don’t know if they’re even putting enough money away for retirement. In addition, the economic climate has altered the projected spending of boomers. While boomer investments may be gaining some ground after the initial economic downfall, they are becoming more discretionary about their spending; opportunities now lie in ways for products and services to support the emerging frugality movement.
Boomers are also “lightening the load,” which has implications for such things as future home ownership (or non-ownership) and preference for services versus product purchase, highlighting an array of opportunities that can help them minimize their burden. In fact, 57 percent of boomers indicate that they live a more satisfying life by having fewer material possessions.
Because more than four out of five boomers will do whatever it takes to stay in their current residence, aging in place will spur numerous opportunities from care-giving products and services to home renovations for more senior accessibility. Technology will expand due to this aging generation and will help to provide everything from management and monitoring of health issues to promoting connections with family and friends.
Boomers will continue to drive environmental protection as they have done in the past via a strong volunteer ethic and an understanding of the connection of planetary and personal health. Forty-four percent of boomers indicate they will be more involved in protecting the environment in the future.
However, boomers cannot be grouped under one mantra. In fact, six segments were identified within the boomer population, each segment with their own unique set of attitudes, behaviors and needs. Understanding the differences will help marketers create better strategies to reach this ever-evolving generation.
The Natural Marketing Institute is an international strategic consulting, market research and business development company specializing in the health, wellness and sustainable marketplace.