Published on: September 11, 2018by Michael Sansolo
It doesn’t take much introspection to notice we’ve been trending a little old here on MNB recently. Consider some of our recent stories, from the one about 50- and 60-year-olds taking all manner of jobs, to Wegmans’ new program to help shoppers with failing eyesight, to the Content Guy’s being disoriented by being called “sir” by younger folks … like people in their fifties.
(I’m not a lot younger than Kevin, but I am younger and I never let him forget it!)
There’s good reason to think about all those stories with an eye on future success. Kevin and I represent a major trend in global demographics - the aging Baby Boomers - and it would be folly for businesses to ignore that trend.
Keep in mind that our massive post-World War II generation globally changed family structure, eating habits, music, fashion, education and pretty much everything else we touched. Retirement and old age are just the next on the checklist.
There are certainly some big reasons for concern about our inexorable aging. First, our generation isn’t in wonderful financial shape, which means many boomers are going to head into retirement with vastly reduced spending power. That means millions of shoppers who were raised to believe we could have it all (great taste and less filling!) now face sacrifices that could lead to a new large group of discount shoppers.
Plus, this massive generation is hitting retirement age in record numbers, which means a huge drain on staffing and institutional brainpower in every kind of company you can imagine. At the same time, there is almost certainly going to be an enormous impact on governmental and community services that people our age are going to require, but are likely to be strained to - or even past - the breaking point.
Yet there’s also gold in these demographic hills if you can make the adjustments. The Washington Post recently examined the powerful benefit of serving these new niches and highlighted some of the creative steps companies are taking to get ahead of this potentially profitable moment. Consider Gillette, which has taken many boomers - me included - through a lifetime of shaving improvements.
The company is now launching a razor specifically designed to help caregivers shave the faces of their parents or patients. Its design is especially useful for a second-party shaving experience and incorporates innovations to make shaving simpler and easier, especially for men with cognitive issues.
To be fair, I suspect that Gillette has been forced to think more creatively about its traditional products because it has been pressured competitively by the likes of Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club. A fundamental challenge for companies is being more creative before being forced to, not after.
As the Post reported, retailers see the need for change as well, especially in the way shoppers do or don’t see. CVS has begun adding magnifying glasses to shelves, while Target is increasing the font size on prescription labels. Others are using brighter lighting. Best Buy has identified a competitive advantage in developing a suite of products that will make homes safer and more user-friendly for the elderly and, by extension, ease the worries of their children.
No doubt we’ll be seeing and hearing much more along these lines in years to come, but no matter how weak your vision, this is a trend that’s easy to spot. With the population of senior citizens exploding it’s time to start thinking through all the potential benefits and problems now for yourselves, your companies and certainly your shoppers, and to get creative about meeting these needs before you are forced to, not after.
Personally, I’m just dreading the day someone hijacks the famous Who song to remind that we hope to Buy before we get old.
By the way … did I mention that I’m younger than Kevin?
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with the much older Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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