Want to Build A Business That Serves the Needs of 100 Million People?

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At What’s Next Boomer Business Summit, entrepreneurs got some valuable insights from top national experts on how to profit in the Longevity Economy

At the ninth annual What’s Next Boomer Business Summit, opening speaker Jody Holtzman fired up the 400+ entrepreneurs and executives in the audience with his assertion that, “In Washington, addressing the needs of 100 million people is called an unaffordable cost. For entrepreneurs, addressing the needs of 100 million people is called an opportunity.” Holtzman, senior vice president of AARP’s Thought Leadership Group, was referring to consumers aged 50+. Over the course of day’s events, attendees gained a greater understanding of the needs of America’s baby boomer consumers – who collectively spend $2.5 trillion in 2010 – and the industries, products, and services that are ripe for innovation that to better serve them.

“The new normal for today’s typical boomer involves taking care of grandkids and aging parents, holding down a job, and staying connected to family, friends and work with social media and mobile technology,” said Mary Furlong, Ed.D., producer of What’s Next and CEO of Mary Furlong & Associates. “At the same time, boomers are also dealing with the onset of chronic diseases such as diabetes and financial drain from all the folks who depend on them. Despite the exhausting pace of their lives, boomers still have a burning desire to live, work and play on their own terms as they age. The need for better products, services and technologies to help them manage their families better, enjoy more leisure time with loved ones, and keep them healthy and fulfilled has never been greater.”

Among the key takeaways attendees gleaned from the Summit:

Caregiving:
More Americans today expect to live to be past 90 years of age - 29% of pre-retirees and 35% of retirees polled by the Hartford/MIT Age Lab Study in 2011. Of those, most believe caregiving will be delivered by their spouse or daughter in their own home. With boomer and senior women as the primary caregivers, consumers of health information, and buyers of caregiving products and services, companies that are providing comprehensive solutions that will help make their lives easier and more manageable stand to gain the most in the Longevity Economy.

Companies to watch include Caring.com, CareLinx.com, Independa, LinkAge, and LivHome.

Technology and Health Services:
According to Aging in Place Technology Watch analyst Laurie Orlov, the aging in place market is expected to reach $20 billion by 2020. Healthcare, monitoring, home security, mobile devices, social media, and cloud computing are all converging to help boomers better manage their personal and family health. Technology- enabled personalization and customization of care services is also on the rise among the digitally savvy boomer population.

The New Services Economy:
Travel, in-home care, housing, transportation services offer some of the biggest opportunities for boomer-centric transformation within traditional industry categories. With consumers 50+ accounting for 80% of the leisure travel market, for example, more products such as multigenerational vacation packages and mature singles trips – coupled with age appropriate messaging - are needed to serve them.

Social and Mobile Media:
Boomers are becoming increasingly social online and on the go. They are downloading more mobile applications and are becoming avid players of mobile games. According to Lee Rainie of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, over 85% of boomers have cell phones, 46% have smartphones, more than 80% of all boomers are online, 52% use social networking sites, and 46% download apps. Boomers and digitally savvy seniors overwhelmingly report staying connected to friends and family as their primary reason for engagement with social media.

Entrepreneurship:
The results of a new national study performed by MBO Partners and Emergent Research regarding boomers’ interest in entrepreneurship and independent work was announced at the What’s Next Press Briefing on March 29 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The study revealed that:

  • 1 in 4 Americans aged 44 – 70 are interested in starting their own business in the next 5 – 10 years
  • 16 million Americans identify themselves as independent consultants – and 5 million of them are boomers
  • Only 20% said job loss was a factor in their decision to become an entrepreneur. Flexibility, desire to do what they love on their own terms, seeking new challenge, motivation were top triggers
  • Boomers are mainly interested in launching companies that are small, personal and local.

The What’s Next Boomer Business Summit is produced annually by Mary Furlong & Associates and is affiliated with the American Society on Aging (ASA) Aging in America Conference. The Summit was held on March 28 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. Program information is available at http://www.boomersummit.com.

About Mary Furlong & Associates
Founded in 2003, Mary Furlong & Associates (MFA) works with companies seeking to capitalize on new business and investment opportunities in the Baby Boomer market. MFA provides business development, financing strategy and integrated marketing solutions to entrepreneurs, corporations and non-profit organizations serving the 50+ market. Mary Furlong, Ed.D., the firm's founder and CEO, has guided the offline and online 40+ market strategies of leading corporations and non-profit organizations for more than 20 years.

In 2011, Furlong was honored as one of the top 100 Women of Influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Furlong is Dean's Executive Professor of Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business, and previously founded SeniorNet and ThirdAge Media. Her latest book, Turning Silver into Gold: How to Profit in the New Boomer Marketplace, was published in 2007. More information is available at http://www.maryfurlong.com.

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