It is a watershed event in demographics – baby boomers, those born in the hopeful post-war period and the first to break with past traditions, are turning 65. Whether they aspire to retire anytime soon or not, this will have a resounding impact on economic life. The news is cause for concern among political leaders and social security administrators, but it is also an opportunity for new business and commercial opportunities. One thing is for certain: baby boomers will not stay quiet. Abandoning everyday commitments related to running organizations will give them a chance to spend time doing previously relegated activities. What will they do? Recreate their “golden years” seems to be the answer to this question.
- Who is turning 65?
- Looking for concepts rather than goods.
- Baby boomers are famous for their proactive, hardworking nature, as well as their fondness for leisure activities. Turning 65 means they have new needs but the same spirit. Do not design goods or services for passive people because they intend to keep moving;
- Boomers seek to be mature and active. The idea reaches every market, from real-estate to investment services taking in technology, tourism, food and many other sectors;
- In the USA, Europe and other developed countries, baby boomers see their retirement as the right time to start a “second life.” How? Recreating their youth, resuming old hobbies or moving to touristic locations;
- In developing or conservative countries, such as Latin American ones and Middle Eastern nations, the baby boom phenomenon had different features. Here, baby boomer retirement is strongly linked to family matters and to staying in one’s hometown.
A classic definition of the term considers a baby boomer to be someone born between 1946 and 1964, when a strong rise in birth levels was registered in several countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Its meaning became broader as the term initially included only those born in countries that registered the baby boom, but then expanded to all those born after 1945, encompassing everyone who turns 65 (the age of mandatory retirement in most of the world) this year.
During their childhood and teenage years, baby boomers witnessed important events, such as The Beatles’ rise to fame and the heyday of the hippie movement, which stirred sexual liberation and universalized their consumption habits, ideology and lifestyles. Nevertheless, their lives were full of hard work; they were also the first to divorce en masse. They always tried to keep their origins and childhood dreams in mind, but many of them did actually forget them, whether deliberately or simply because life led them to do so. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” is their basic philosophy. Now, as they begin to retire, they want to recreate their “golden years.”
A number of studies and polls on the subject conducted in the USA and Europe suggest that baby boomers will continue to work, whether due to financial need or out of interest, although they will seek leisure: they will travel more, they will want to live in places with warm weather, they will go out to eat and to concerts more often and will try to make the most of new technology.
Who is turning 65?
Kathleen Casey-Kirschling was born in Philadelphia, USA, on January 1st, 1946, at 12:00:01 am and is generally recognised as the nation’s first boomer. She retired early at 62 and ever since many analysts have spoken about what will happen to the 80 million Americans born in the 1946-1964 period who could qualify for social security support during the next two decades.
The first step was to define and classify them, something done by Alberto Levy, a strategy expert and Head of Innovation and Growth at Deloitte. Levy coined the term “Generation A2” to describe baby boomers older than 60 and close to their seventies. Why A2? The letter A stands in contrast to the younger Generations X and Y while the number two was chosen “because these people wish to turn this phase of life into a second turning point in their lives, in order to bequeath to those younger generations what they have learned during their extensive careers and in life.” According to Levy, the “second curve” emerges with the rise in life expectancy; this kind of baby boomer is different from other people of similar age.
Levy adds that the generation heading into retirement has never ceased to update itself professionally, yet they value “holistic outlooks” over overspecialization; they seek to create “sustainable value;” they also have fluid contact with other generations, overtaking what they had with their own parents. Moreover, many of them have had their share of failures, which makes them appreciate being able to stand up again; they never quit their dreams and always set themselves goals and objectives. They value friendship and family and never speak about “tolerance” but respect for those who think differently. In practice, Levy says, members of this generation will try to do what it has always done, twisting their schedules to have more time for leisure. They will still learn new things – but in less stressful contexts and spend less time doing so. They will work too, and will seek to reconnect with their past: music, travel, entertainment and helping others are part of their main concepts and values.
Millions of people aged 64 by world region on January 1, 2010
Source: Euromonitor International from national statistics/UN
Looking for concepts rather than goods
Consumption and lifestyles are different among baby boomers around the world, although certain concepts are part of the lives of almost every one of them. Finances, savings and investments are such an example. There are countless surveys pointing to the huge emphasis they place on how they will afford their retirement. Concepts such as security, stability and mid-term projections are among their favourite terms. In this sense, employment after retirement must improve. According to statistics from six polls, such us the Retirement and Well-Being Study from Cornell University, published in the USA, France and the UK in the last two years, between 70% and 85% of baby boomers “intend to keep working after retirement.” Another interesting fact is that half of working American ‘retirees’ want to work in a new profession and almost all of them returned to work to stay active, not because of financial need. This data comes from polls conducted by the Hudson Institute, University of Michigan and the MacArthur Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the USA with a focus on international peace and security, conservation, sustainable development and population.
The second concept is related to family expectations, life after retirement and a person’s social function. According to 17 briefings quoted on WhatsNextInYourLife.com and BabyBoomers.com, only two in ten people older than 55 see retirement as a “winding down or an extended vacation”. Most of them regard it as a time “to do other things.” Another survey shows that seven out of ten boomers surveyed think their happiness and satisfaction in retirement “will come from family, friends, and fitness.” There are two other polls from 2010 and that claim US retirees think “relations with family and friends” are more important than their own “physical health” or “personal finances” report WhatsNextInYourLife.com and BabyBoomers.com.
Lastly come households – located in the place boomers want to live in. Baby boomers from all over the world are thinking about moving after retirement. According to the surveys published by WhatsNextInYourLife.com, between 57% and 60% of American baby boomers plan to relocate, (especially to Florida or Arizona) but most of them want to live in communities that offer age diversity.
Enjoying a solid financial footing, being useful to society and living in a nice place are three concepts in the minds of baby boomers around the globe. In other words, the key is to “be mature but active,” and its impact reaches every market – real-estate investment services, technology, tourism, food and many others. Baby boomer retirement is an opportunity – for older boomers are not leaving the market but starting over, beginning a second life, the one they always wanted to live.