Upon hearing the phrase “senior living,” visions of walkers, oxygen tubes, and bedpans come to mind. Senior living is the broad term used to encompass everything from independent living developments to retirement communities, and there are certain perceptions associated with this demographic that are ripe for disruption.
Ranging from 52 to 70 years of age, baby boomers are the newest addition to the senior citizen cohort. And they’re bringing with them a new outlook on aging.
Empowered by empty nests and financial freedom, boomers are embracing their 55+ years for the opportunities they hold rather than dreading the obstacles present. This outlook, coupled with buying power and declining mortality rates, has sparked a multi-billion dollar market for a group now being termed “active adults.”
How ‘Optimistic Aging’ Is Evolving Senior Living
In 2013, Rohit Bhargava coined the term “Optimistic Aging” to characterize the new wave of excitement associated with the empty nester years and beyond. According to a study by the National Council on Aging, 89 percent of older adults feel confident that they could maintain a high quality of life throughout their senior years — a statistic that’s having profound effects on senior living development.
In fact, the gap between middle-aged adulthood and assisted living has grown even wider. This gap is creating a need for developments that support a dynamic and recreational lifestyle for older adults. Active adult communities range from age-restricted independent living to multifamily apartments that target older residents. The common thread, however, is that each promotes a distinct lifestyle — one that’s oriented toward social and recreational activities.
Not only is this demographic evolving development trends, but the implications for marketing communication are changing as well.
Defining Boomer Characteristics
In the years ahead, marketers will need to differentiate their senior living community within a cluttered market. Before marketers relegate all senior citizens to a traditional marketing mix, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- 88 percent of baby boomers are internet users
- 50 percent of baby boomers spend at least 15 hours online every week
- 96 percent of online baby boomers use search engines
- 95 percent of online baby boomers use email
- 82 percent of boomers belong to a social network, the most popular being Facebook
Active adults are looking for information online. Thus, senior living communities who recognize this have the opportunity to be a resource and a solution. As seniors enter the next phase of life, new doors are opening for developers and marketers. They may just find that new tactics can improve the quality of their leads, not to mention measurability and cost-effectiveness.