Over 70 Million People is Definitely a Market Opportunity
My sisters and I are helping our 86 year old father “age in place” as best he can by staying in his home. With even cursory analysis, it’s pretty clear there won’t be anywhere near enough capital to build assistive living or nursing home facilities to accomodate the huge pending influx of aging baby boomers, over 70 million of whom started retiring in January of 2011 and will do so through 2029.
When you add to that the real possibility that these oldster’s life expectancy is expected to rise as well, and it certainly appears we have an impending crisis on our hands. As you’ll see below, I argue that the enormity of this population of aging boomers represents quite a market opportunity for technological, community, societal and financial support solutions to alleviate that crisis and make money to boot!
Since tech is my focus, that’s where my thoughts go immediately. When I wrote, Elderly Need Super-Simple, Phone-like Skype it was clear that this amazing technology could go a long way to enable aging in place and keep seniors connected with friends and loved ones.
My horizons have been raised dramatically as I’ve searched for, and implemented, several solutions for my Dad. From an auto-dialer for his phone so he can alert my sisters and I by pushing a button on the pendant he wears around his neck, to Wifi in his house for connectivity of devices, I can easily see how in-home healthcare support devices could really help seniors with remote montoring solutions like these and others.
Providing these sorts of products to seniors, adapting mobile devices (and their applications) to a population whose eyesight is diminished, is a huge opportunity.
With services like this non-profit grocery shopping service and innovative solutions like the Village Movement or several initiatives outlined on this PBS website for caregivers, there are an almost overwhelming number of choices available. Like most of these sorts of grass-roots solutions to an increasing problem like a rapidly aging population, there appears to be no true leadership organization and a dizzying array of redundancy as many of their services and approaches overlap one another.
Whenever startups and innovators look at inefficiencies and redundancies — and costs that can be radically reduced through technological applications and solutions — means we see new innovations abound.
One of the key trends we’ve identified in our home furnishings industry trend business is the increasing shift away from exurbs and suburbs and back to urban areas. One of the terms coined by others describes the choices many Millenials are making when choosing their first home: Place Over Space.
The desire to be closer to amenities (e.g., art museums, clubs, restaurants) is a much stronger pull for them vs. having a bigger house and large yard. The New York Times had this article about the death of the “exurb”, those bedroom communities outside the city core and its suburbs.
The benefit to aging in place seniors, many of whom have remained in their homes built decades earlier, is the revitalizing of neighborhoods and new energy brought in. Add to that easier access to transportation, shopping, and reductions in costs, and you can see why there will be a continued migration to urban and close-in suburban housing.
No question the global economic meltdown in 2008 destroyed a lot of the net worth seniors had built up. An article in The Futurist blog discusses Why Baby Boomers Will Have a Troubled Retirement:
While the first Baby Boomer turned 65 in 2011, the median Boomer (born in 1955) turns 65 in 2020, and the last ones turn 65 in 2029, which indicates that their big harvesting of Social Security and Medicare from the government has not even begun yet. Given rising life expectancies, the peak years of Boomer harvesting will be 2015-2035 or so, which means that a huge level of withdrawals are anticipated for this 20-year window.
But alas, someone got to the goodies first. This chart from Carpe Diem shows how US Federal Debt went from 65% of GDP in 2008 to almost 100% today. That 35-point rise was supposed to be consumed by Boomers seeking to finance their retirement, but now, with debt already so high well before Boomers can get their, the future payouts to Boomers have been crowded out. There is certainly no room for another 35-point rise in Federal Debt as a percentage of GDP (credit downgrades and a capital exodus would happen long before debt could ever reach 135% of GDP), and given that the big debt spike began in 2009, it appears that President Obama and the Democrat Senate have already expended the funds that were supposed to sustain the Boomers.
THAT is why assisting seniors with efficient means to save money will be in high demand. So many have landlines, for example, that cost them approximately $40 per month in addition to their TV and internet bills. There are Voice over IP (VoIP) solutions that could be delivered to seniors that would cost just a few dollars (e.g., a Skype cordless phone with an included 200 minutes or, after that’s exhausted, a trivial $3/month subscription for unlimited calling in North America).
Services to monitor their vital signs — with automatic notifications to a caregiver, clinic or doctor — could easily reduce the cost or lost time caregiver cost for office visits and other sometimes wasteful healthcare visits.
All that said, there are so many possibilities that any entrepreneur wanting to build a sustainable company might like to focus on this growing baby boomer retiree market opportunity instead of how to make the next Instagram and make $1 Billion.
About Steve Borsch
Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.