Dimensions of Aging

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aging1As half of the planet will be over the age of 50 by 2030, savvy marketers are beginning to evaluate the dimensions of the aging experience in order to understand and seize the opportunities that align with the aging population.  It’s necessary to recognize that aging is a multidimensional experience, defined by a full range of lifestyle factors and emotions that transcend even the state of one’s physical health. For example, these health adjacencies can include community, nutrition, fitness, healthcare, finances, retirement and lifestyle among many others, and they are keys to truly understanding the vast and customized market opportunities within healthy aging.  Most importantly, the process of aging, like so many other life experiences, is defined by how one perceives the experience and reacts to it, rather than the experience itself.  For many, this is a time of great personal expansion and growth.  While for others, it is a period of uncertainty and decline.

This perception of experiences and consumers’ reactions to those experiences is best defined in segmentation. Consumers are not homogenous; they approach aging differently, with different need states.   NMI’s Healthy Aging Segmentation can reveal where opportunities exist and provides deeper insight into how consumers are dealing with the issues of aging. As seen below, the “First Adopters” segment is significantly more likely than all other segments to be searching for new self care methods to promote their health and vitality and is an attractive segment for emerging ideas and edgy product trial. The “Que Sera, Sera” segment, on the other hand, is defined by their “live for the day” attitude and are less likely than all other segments to be pursuing self care methods, opting for products with a little more indulgence. 

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Maintaining independence is one driving force for aging consumers which encompasses many facets of aging.  The majority of consumers are “very concerned” about losing the ability to take care of themselves as they age. This motivates older consumers to try to live healthier lifestyles so they would not be a burden on loved ones as they age. In fact, losing mental capacity, running out of money, and losing the ability to “get around” are among the top five fears of aging and factors which are directly related to the ability to retain one’s independence. These findings show us how the desire for healthy aging can be driven by various dynamics, including fear, a lack of financial stability, or the desire for independence and a sense of dignity. Uncovering which drivers are having the most impact on our target consumer, will help us create well-rounded, effective solutions and communications around products and services that assist consumers in maintaining their independence. 

While some aging consumers are financially stable and on target with their retirement plan, others are ‘off’ target and are highly concerned about their ability to meet their financial obligations as they grow older.  Retirement savings or the lack thereof, shows a high relationship to other negative life factors. Compared to consumers who are on target with their financial retirement plan, older consumers who are not on target are significantly more likely to give their health status a lower rating, feel their life is out of control, indicate their stress levels are worse than 10 years ago, and don’t feel they have a very good support system if they ever did need help. Therefore, it is important to understand that life factors are highly connected. Determining which life factors, their level of connectedness and how these are influencing attitudes and behaviors is imperative to meeting the needs of the aging consumer.  

The aging of America is at the tipping point.  The tidal wave of the Boomer demographic or the “silver tsunami”, as some have coined it, is here to stay – which will more than double the number of seniors in the upcoming decades.  There are not one-size-fits-all solutions to the aging experience, and understanding the nuances of aging is where the most effective and customized solutions will be found.  Marketers not only have the opportunity, but the obligation to contribute to and help define the changing landscape of  aging so that we may all age with independence, proper care, and a sense of dignity.

To learn more about this trend and other unique opportunities, contact Deb Walker, VP Strategy and Insights, NMI, 215-513-7300 ext. 204, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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