What is the Business of Aging? It’s one of those phrases that can be heard in more than one way. For example in the un-capitalized version, it could mean that we are all aging, and simply put, there are matters or concerns we all face in that natural process. But with the big B, we mean that there’s opportunity to run a Business – product or service, that meets the needs of our aging demographics; and if you want to bold that B – we have a Boomer market!
It is however much broader than that. Based on the inference from the un-capitalized version, that we are all aging with multiple concerns at various points on the continuum, the Business of Aging includes products, services, social policies and systems that people use through their whole life course.
On one level, the touch points on our life course involve our consumer relationships with health care and financial services for example; but on another level the business of aging includes market or clinical research, consulting and investments in areas such as medical and technology solutions. Elevate this mix of market activity to a grander scale, what we are looking at is a Longevity Economy.
A longevity economy is beyond emerging
From my point of view, what is significant about this is that a longevity economy is bigger and broader than a Boomer market. If the upside on the promise of longevity is as optimistic as we continuously purport it to be, then as Theodore Roszak said in his 2001 book Longevity Revolution – “…longevity will outlast the Boomers.” If that is the promise then we are at a point now in 2016, where a longevity economy is beyond emerging.
To put a sharper point on this, in follow up to my Jan. 5th post on upcoming conferences this year, attached to the American Society on Aging: Aging in America Conference – March 20-24, 2016 in Washington D.C. is the “What’s Next Boomer Business Summit” on March 23. All you need to do is read the AARP quote on the site to satisfy you that we are now in the Big Business of Aging: “the Longevity Economy… is at least $7.1 trillion in economic activity every year.
The Business Summit 2016 theme is “Seizing the Opportunity in the Longevity Economy”. Even though the targeted marketing here is on the Boomer, one of the statements about this event on the page titled Collaborating in the Longevity Marketplace, suggests to me that longevity is more than about that segment.
Scanning the text, I’m not exactly sure what their definition is here, when it’s stated that the conversations at this event will explore “the multi-generational affect that shapes Boomer priorities”. Or is it that the effect of Boomer priorities affect multi-generations that also include those under 50 who are future purchasers, and also influencers in the purchasing of certain products and services of parents who may be older than a Boomer?
… and a thinning of the herd?
However you choose to describe the Business of Aging & a Longevity Economy the point is, that if the last five years of marketing and sales have been big, there are still those who don’t get it in terms of how to market appropriately. At the same time, there is an oversaturation of certain product and services, where the current demographic curve is not exactly where the demand side meets the supply side.
There will be a thinning of the herd, based on poor differentiation or value definition, and even by the inability of a business to maintain market foresight in order to have the right conversation with their customers and business collaborators.
Going forward in this beyond emerging longevity economy, if you want to run a business, you will need to start by taking the lid off the subject of longevity and look at all its multi-dimensional aspects, to understand and communicate your niche in this bigger picture.