Demographics and economics meet in this oddly cheering book about the world’s aging population.
Geezers of the world, unite; you’re a member of the baby boom, you’re about to reassert your role as a huge market force. By 2030, writes MIT AgeLab founder and director Coughlin, there will be 1 billion people worldwide who are 65 or older, a number that will rise to 1.6 billion by 2050. “The emerging population of older adults isn’t just big,” he writes. “It’s so enormous, it’s as though a new continent were rising out of the sea, filled with more than a billion air-breathing consumers just begging for products that fulfill their demands.” In the U.S., senior spending and what economists call its downstream effects amounted to about $8 trillion in 2015, $10,000 more per capita in spending than those aged 30 to 44. Advertisers will obviously want to rethink their efforts to capture the younger demographic stratum when so much money is waiting to be claimed at the upper end. Coughlin examines some of the changes that are being wrought in recognition of older consumers, and he identifies a few design challenges to come. For instance, he observes, CVS drugstores began to organize stock to lessen “store-wandering from folks dealing with mobility impairments” by, for example, grouping diabetes-related products together. Inspired by the tennis balls that some seniors put on their walker feet so that they slide more easily, some manufacturers have added plastic skis. Business opportunities ranging from grocery delivery to home care and landscaping are broadening with this rising audience. The author urges younger readers to prepare for impending old age by saving far more than they do (only about 4 in 10 millennials, he writes, save consistently at all), and he concludes that those who have prepared will find that “we are on the cusp of learning to celebrate life in old age—while we’re still alive.”
Fruitful reading for trend-spotters and entrepreneurs, who will find much grist for their mills.