“There is a huge market – millions of people – that could be a missed opportunity for American business,” says author Susan Golden, who teaches at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and is considered one of the leading experts national studies on the impact of longevity. on our economy.
So who are these people?
“The US Census tells us that they are the 10,000 people who turn 65 every day. By the time you read this sentence, another 20 will join this group. More importantly, in 15 years, Americans 65 and older will be more numerous than those under the age of 18,” she points out.
In his book, Stage (not age) How to understand and serve people over 60 – The most dynamic and fastest growing market in the world, she urges corporate America to understand the importance of paying attention to groups of adults based on their stage in life – not their age – and discover where they are, what they do, their needs and their desires.
“The goal for companies should be to provide the products and services they need and want,” she stresses.
Top Mistakes Businesses Make in an Aging World
Stage (not age) is a fascinating read, and it’s clear that missteps can be costly. I sat down with her, and she gave a numerical list of errors – the wrong thought, what not to do – that the American business community should be aware of and avoid.
1. Don’t see the elderly as a market and aging as a problem.
Why this erroneous thought? Our aging population is anything but a problem for business leaders who see market potential in people over 60 who are in fact a deeply diverse population. They go through different stages of their lives, want and need different products and services.
2. Don’t think of all people as going through only three stages in life: Education, Work, and Retirement.
Why this erroneous reasoning? Today we live secular lives. We will have much longer tenures, which will incorporate career breaks for continuous learning opportunities and for caregiving.
Notions of working just so you can retire will be replaced with a focus on having a purpose in your community, not just sitting around and watching TV. As we live longer and retain the ability to be productive and contribute to society, fewer of us will view leisure as a goal in itself.
Therefore, companies must view the population as having multi-stage lives that will not be defined by age and will produce a wealth of new business opportunities.
3. Be sure to develop age-friendly, age-focused products and services to help extend “health span” as opposed to life span.
Consequences: It is essential, in the face of this ever-increasing population of elderly people, to design products with a multi-generational perspective. Those with a “one size fits all” approach or only targeting 18-34 year olds will lose business. A good example is Oxo cookware. They are great for all ages, but have been designed with ease of use for older people. BMW has modified its dashboards to meet the needs of older drivers, which also benefits younger ones.
4. Be sure to develop a longevity strategy for your employees.
Consequences: You will lose good people. Employees will have a career span of 60 years. Employers should incorporate development opportunities, lifelong learning, career breaks and assistance with financial planning. Companies will potentially have five generations at their service. It will be a family that has been with the business for decades, enriching the bottom line.
5. Don’t think of your customers and employees as “seniors” or “seniors”.
It is an erroneous thought that minimizes their value! Embrace the new narratives around aging over the mere concept of old. As our population ages, maintaining physical and mental health, it is best thought of as vibrant life. Call it, “the sequel”, going further into new and productive stages of their life.
6. Don’t be an ageist when hiring or in the workplace.
This includes being biased against older applicants, disregarding the dignity of your older employees or applicants, or refusing to support programs that promote the health and longevity of older workers.
Consequences: Not only is ageism the latest acceptable “ism,” but bias against older applicants or employees is an engraved invitation to find yourself as a defendant in an age discrimination lawsuit.
7. Do not fail to meet care needs and refuse to offer paid family leave to all your employees.
Results? Expect huge turnover. Disgruntled employees. If you do, you will lose the institutional knowledge and creativity that comes with people who know your business strategy, needs, and capabilities.
8. Do not establish a rigid mandatory retirement age for all employees.
Consequences: You will lose the opportunity to tap into their wisdom and the creativity that comes with it. It’s the perfect recipe for hostility. Instead, realize that some employees might like the idea of more flexibility on time commitments and want to stay employed.
The best approach is to help employees redefine their life priorities, refocus their lives, and transition to new opportunities inside and outside the company.
A discerning employer should view older employees as entering renaissance years where they have the ability to contribute creative ideas with wisdom and experience.
How Age + Wisdom Encourages Entrepreneurship
We concluded our interview with Susan’s encouraging and optimistic view of the future:
“Research shows that the most successful businesses – outside of technology – are those started by people aged 55 and older. Twenty-five percent of new entrepreneurs are between the ages of 55 and 64. That’s a field that is simply exploding!We hear terms such as “olderpreneurs and seniorpreneurs”.
“This incredible group of older Americans – who have decades of hands-on work experience under their belts – are wonderfully situated to go out on their own, and they do! People 55 or older owned 43% of small businesses in the world. countries in 2020. Their success rate is far higher than that of a typical new business, which has an 11.1% failure rate in the first year compared to founders over 60, who have only an 8.2% failure rate (according to JPMorgan Chase Institute research).
“They will surprise us all in wonderful ways!”
In my opinion, Stage (not age) is a must-read for CEOs who see the future as part of their professional lives today.
Lawyer at the bar, author of “You and the Law”
After attending law school at Loyola University, H. Dennis Beaver joined the Kern County District Attorney’s Office in California, where he established a consumer fraud section. He is into the general practice of law and writes a column in a syndicated newspaper, “You and the Law”. Through his column, he offers free help to readers who need down-to-earth advice. “I know it sounds corny, but I love being able to use my education and experience to help, just to help. When a reader contacts me, it’s a gift.”