Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture, had it right. We always think we have more time than we do. This is as true of business as it is individual life. As others have rightly said before, it’s a sad mistake that we spend so much time endlessly waiting for tomorrow. One day, you wake up and realize that there IS no more time to try what you promised you would, or to accomplish what you assumed you could. But then there you are. Wishing, mulling over the past, maybe cursing your bad luck while, if we’re honest, where we are and how things are largely about our own choices.
In 2035, 21 years from now, businesses and business owners who are thriving today could be on the far outside of success, outside a bubble looking in. If this turns out to be someone you know, it could be because that person put off then-uncomfortable change in attitude and strategy that could have permanently changed things for the better. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is estimated that in 2035 perhaps 35 to 37 percent of all consumers will be 65 or older. And that’s just the people numbers. These smarter, more experienced consumers will hold most of the consumer wealth in the nation. AARP made this case beautifully a few days ago in its magazine, warning business to take advantage of change. Here’s what they pointed out:
” … people over the age of 50 are 100 million strong. We will soon control over 70 percent of the disposable income in this country. We buy two-thirds of all new cars, half the computers, and a third of all movie tickets. We spend $7 billion a year shopping online. Travel? More than 80 percent of all premium travel flow from our credit cards. Add it all up (and) U.S. adults who are over 50 ka-ching as the third largest economy in the world, trailing only the gross national product of the United States and China!” And still, older Americans are virtually ignored by marketers mired in last century’s obsession with youth. In fact, only five percent of advertising is directed at older consumers, according to Nielsen, which has been tracking Americans habits for decades. It’s insulting. As veteran ad man Bob Hoffman put it recently, ‘Almost everyone you see in a car commercial is between the ages of 18 and 24. And yet, people 75 to dead buy five times (emphasis ours) as many new cars as people 18 to 24.’ Nielsen calls people 50 and up ‘the most valuable generation in the history of marketing.’
It’s time to recognize this reality. The current Baby Boom generation, and the next that will soon reach that 50 mark, has money to spend. Most businesses, and probably yours, need to adjust. Where will your business be if your marketing ignores their sensibilities and needs, in favor of what worked yesterday? The dusty catalogs of chambers of commerce histories are littered with the names of dead companies that thrived — until they didn’t. Take it from others who point out the same trends that we have. And let us help. Randy Pausch was right. None of us has as much time as we think we have. So let’s work on this together. And thrive.