This May marks the 58th anniversary of Older American’s Month and the launch of this year’s theme: Communities of Strength. Those age 60 and better are a vibrant, engaged demographic that has built strength and resilience through successes, failures, joys, and challenges. They are active, valued leaders and mentors within our business community and a force within society. And even as COVID-19 impacted this generation most adversely, the group’s important connections within their communities have played a vital role in their health and well-being. This older demographic commands attention and is changing the status quo.
When Older Americans Month was established in 1963 by President Kennedy, only 17 million Americans were 65 years and older. Today, there are an estimated 73 million baby boomers. And while many businesses mistakenly discount the economic impact of this group, they command purchasing power of more than $2 trillion, according to market research, and a net worth that’s nearly twice the national average, according to SuddenlySenior.com.
How can you include, encourage, and celebrate this savvy demographic in your business? Here are a few strategies to consider:
Experiences over Things
Today’s adults are redefining life after 50 with a renewed emphasis on the things that matter most. And we all should be right alongside them on the journey to what’s next, turning ordinary moments into extraordinary ones. Older adults often decide that they don’t need, or want, more “stuff.” Instead, they are seeking meaningful experiences that allow them to enjoy life. To reach this audience, remember to keep it fun, focus on your customer service experiences and what do you do best, and provide them with a memorable experience.
Cuisines, Health & Fitness
Older adults in the Northern Virginia area are often well-traveled and experienced in global dining. Sophisticated palates demand quality with interesting offerings. Top international cuisines for older adults, according to Restaurant Business magazine, are Italian, Chinese, and Mexican; many are also interested in regional cuisines, such as Sicilian cuisine, Szechuan, and Oaxacan. If you’re trying to entice this audience with food, remember that they are educated foodies who crave inspired dishes.
Fitness is another growing area of interest for these consumers. In fact, according to Fitness and Wellness News, the fastest-growing segment of the fitness population consists of individuals over 50. Knowing this, how can you attract baby boomers with a fitness-related promotion? And you don’t have to be a fitness company to do this; for example, are you a clothing boutique that can tout wellness through fashion?
Changing the way we talk and label things breaks down long-held stereotypes. Carol Burnett once said: “Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own.” Words matter. Words label and define us. Challenge outdated beliefs by changing up everyday language, which, in turn, changes perceptions of aging. Consider how you might be interactive with those defined as “senior” – do they really want to be called a “old”? Are you slipping into any unconscious biases? Be deliberate and intentional in what your language is that will push your business forward while breaking down old stereotypes and perceptions.
People 60 and better make up an important part of the US population and are vital to the Northern Virginia community. Learning how this important demographic can impact your business in a positive way can lead to better business overall and can enhance everyone’s experience. Create opportunities that allow people to enjoy your business in a way that is unique and attractive to them. Get creative and have fun with your ideas. Older Americans Month is a great time to start.