Having worked in the senior market for over a decade, I was thrilled to pick up ”Stage (Not Age)” by Susan Wilner Golden to clarify the shifts we have perceived. I nodded affirmatively to each page and, before I was 20%, I was encouraging others to read it. It gives vocabulary to experiences marketers are looking to communicate about with those offering products and services to seniors, context to the changes we need to make as society and insights into how exciting, dynamic and rewarding working in this industry can be.
My book is highlighted from start to finish, and I can only highly recommend getting your own copy! Before you write it off for those who work with ”old people”, its worth noting those people are ones with buying power, more disposable income and more free time. They are also looked to for guidance on products and services, so even if your offering isn’t designed for them, consider understanding them.
”Since health is improving and cognitive decline rates are falling, we must eliminate the old stereotypes of how people will age…Already well over half of people eighty-five years old are indeed able to live independently.”
“…the three-stage life of learn, earn retire, no longer holds and that the increasing healthspans decrease the importance of age in the market….Rather, it will be stage that defines what types of products and services a person will need; how they should be marketed to: who should be marketed to; and how education, work, and career will need to change.”
”A focus on stage will also cause all business sectors, including education, entertainment, clothing, travel and housing, to consider and develop a new strategy that incorporates the new longevity opportunity.”
The author unpacks how stages will replace retirement, shares ways to understand the new stages we are encountering and shares how that will look different for each business interacting with older adults (the preferred term). She highlights key ways we can leverage this knowledge to reap the rewards of better servicing a growing industry whilst combating ageism. Interspersed with case studies, this is an easy-to-follow guide and I found it an engaging read.
If you can, be sure to get this one, I’ll be looking to share it far and wide! It’s a five out of five on the enJOYment scale.
I appreciated the opportunity to re-imagine the opportunities and implications that longevity presents. The many examples provided bring clarity to many concepts that we know but, perhaps, don’t leverage to do things differently, eg what does it mean for marketers that over half of eighty-five-year-olds are well enough to live independently? (Contrast this with a stereotypical belief that over sixty-fives become dependent on others, grow frail and sickly and live on residential care. (My summary)). What does that change? The author rightly highlights what that means for our work span (a multigenerational workforce), their economic value and expectations and questions the value of words such as senior and retirement.
There are also great examples of how marketing professionals can change the focus of the strategies and campaigns such as recognising a multigenerational customer base (end user, customer and payer may vary).and so too the need to use different media and distribution channels.
I have been a marketing professional since the early eighties (and been marketing to this demographic) so became of others creating significant awareness in this area, eg: I have had the privilege to read and follow the work of Ken Dychtwaldt and Tom Peters for over 3o years so a number of the concepts are not new to me. The ‘older person’ is not one homogenous group but like any other demographic comprises many market sectors, the stereotyping of ‘older people’ which makes this group unrelatable to many. So this is useful work that adds to the conversation and I recommend it to those who are responsible for and deal directly with over sixties and to those who are looking to serve their diverse needs.
From the publisher, ” Stage (Not Age) is the concise guide to helping companies understand that people over sixty are a deeply diverse population. They’re travelling through different life stages and therefore want and need different products and services.” “In many countries, people over sixty are the fastest-growing age group.”
We received a complimentary copy of the book from Harvard Business Review Press through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in these review are completely our own.
From the back cover:
The $22 trillion opportunity that can be unlocked only if you rethink everything you think you know about people over sixty.
In the time it takes you to read this, another twenty Americans will turn sixty-five. Ten thousand people a day are crossing that threshold, and that number will continue to grow. In fifteen years, Americans aged sixty-five and over will outnumber those under age eighteen. Nearly everywhere in the world, people over sixty are the fastest-growing age group.
Longevity presents an opportunity that companies need to develop a strategy for. Estimates put the global market for this demographic at a whopping $22 trillion across every industry you can imagine. Entertainment, travel, education, health care, housing, transportation, consumer goods and services, product design, tech, financial services, and many others will benefit, but only if marketers unlearn what they think they know about this growing population.
The key is to stop thinking of older adults as one market. Stage (Not Age) is the concise guide to helping companies understand that people over sixty are a deeply diverse population. They’re traveling through different life stages and therefore want and need different products and services.
This book helps you reset your understanding of what an “old person” is. It demonstrates how three people, all seventy years old, may not even be in the same market segment. It identifies the systemic barriers to entering this market and provides ways to overcome them. And it shares the best practices of companies that have successfully shifted to a Stage (Not Age) mentality.
This practical guide prepares companies and marketers for an inevitable shift they can’t ignore.