By DAN WEBER
Association Of Mature American Citizens
America’s aging population – the country is growing older at the rate of 10,000 new 65-year-olds a day – has become a lucrative market for a variety of businesses.
The Census Bureau says that millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest segment of the U.S. population, but older Americans have more money to spend, particularly if you include the 50-plus crowd. The researchers at Euromonitor tell us that, worldwide, Baby Boomers have amassed as much as $15 trillion in spending power to date.
So, how do senior citizens in the U.S. spend their money? Surprisingly, there is not much of a difference between the expenditures of senior households and those of the average American household. As you might expect, the cost of health care is higher as we age, but the other basics of family spending are about the same as that of average households. An Advertising Age magazine report based on a Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey shows that senior households spend an average of $40,817 compared with $42,631 for an average household.
As regards the discretionary spending of seniors, today’s older Americans seek products and services that are unlike those that appealed to the elders of yesteryear.
As Joseph F. Coughlin, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, put it in a recent article in the financial weekly, Barron’s: “Older consumers will no longer put up with companies that address only basic physiological or safety needs. New demands in the older market are arising from higher-level drives, such as goals, aspirations, aesthetic preferences, social needs, and talents. From the consumer’s perspective, products that seem to deny the importance of such considerations (for instance, by implying that the consumer is infirm) may soon find themselves foundering, not propelled by the prevailing demographic tailwinds … The sorts of products that tomorrow’s older consumers will avoid at all costs have one thing in common: They treat older people as a problem to be solved – often at the expense of their choice of home, community, accessories, fashion, activities, and, yes, fun.”
In other words, today’s seniors are active, not sedentary. They are healthier and living longer than ever before. And, they are more likely to be focused on their to-do lists than on their no-no lists. The old-school notion that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks hardly describes today’s mature Americans.
Dan Weber is President of The Association of Mature American Citizens (https://www.amac.us), a senior advocacy organization that takes its marching orders from its members. They act and speak on members’ behalf, protecting their interests and offering a practical insight on how to best solve the problems they face today.