a Target Rich Environment for Senior Living
The first members of the “bobby-sox” generation (born 1935 – 1945) will turn 76 in 2011. As discussed in “Do Senior Living Communities Need a Wake-up Call?” and “Do not go gentle into that good night”[i], this generation will be more demanding and EXPECT many amenities (considered options today) to be included in the standard package in the future. The bobby-soxers will be less willing to compromise their independence for the “one-size-fits-all” approach utilized in many of today’s senior living facilities.
Recognizing and understanding the desires of the customer is essential in any business. In senior living, we need to revise our mental images of the stereotypical resident if we are to successfully market to this generation. Because of the preponderance of celluloid images that keep our heroes forever young, it’s hard to imagine that ELVIS would be 76 this month if he were still alive. Do we really believe that this generation whose icon flew his entourage in a private jet from Memphis to Las Vegas just to get a “PBJ”[ii] will be satisfied with a set menu at set times in a set place as is common in many communities today?
Is it reasonable to assume that the generation that fostered the 20th Century success of higher end hotel companies (e.g. Marriott, Hyatt and Four Seasons) – with concierge floors, lounges, suites, king-size beds, etc. – will accept 200 – 300 square feet of personal living space? Will they be prepared to “give up” their home to move into a space that’s probably smaller than their current bedroom?
Will the members of this generation who have been used to success, affluence and independence be prepared to turn over control of all their daily activities to facility staff with programs such as arts & crafts – see “Summer Camp for Seniors” – as their only daily stimulation?
This Bobby-sox generation is often overlooked as it is sandwiched between the “Greatest Generation” – which includes the World War II veterans – and the huge numbers of “Baby Boomers”. Yet, there are over 20 million bobby-soxers in the U.S. today, accounting for approximately 7% of the total population. This group accounts for over 50% of the 65+ population (Medicare eligible) in the country and there are now 15% more living members of the Bobby-sox generation (10 year group) than all prior generations.[iii]
The following pictures depict a sampling of well-known Bobby-soxers from business, government/political, sports and entertainment industries. Although these celebrities are more recognizable, each represents many other everyday members of the generation from all aspects of society.
See which, if any, of these individuals come to mind when you think of 65 – 75 year olds. And then, THINK AGAIN because they are rapidly becoming your TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC.
NOW IS THE TIME TO BEGIN PREPARING!
Frankie Avalon (1940) and Annette Funicello (1942) – Singers, actors & former teen idols; she was the favorite Mousketeer
Alan Alda – Captain Hawkeye Pierce on M.A.S.H. (1936)
Tom Brokaw – TV News Anchor & Author of “The Greatest Generation” (1940)
Bill Cosby – Comedian & Actor(1937)
Neil Diamond – Singer/Songwriter (1941)
Elizabeth Dole – U.S. Senator & Cabinet Member; head of American Red Cross & wife of Presidential nominee Bob Dole (1936)
Mike Ditka – Pro Football Player, Coach & TV Commentator (1939)
Michael Eisner – Disney CEO (1942)
Jane Fonda – Actress & Political Activist (1937)
Harrison Ford – “Indiana Jones” Actor (1942)
Morgan Freeman – Actor (1937)
Louis Gerstner CEO of IBM (1942)
Joe Gibbs Hall of Fame Pro Football Coach with the Washington Redskins (1940)
John Kerry – US Senator & Presidential Candidate (1943)
Sandy Koufax – Major League Baseball Pitcher & Hall of Famer (1935)
Ralph Lauren – Fashion Designer (1939)
George Lucas – Creator of “Star Wars” (1943)
John Madden – NFL Coach & TV Announcer (1936)
John McCain – Retired Navy Captain, Senator & Presidential Candidate (1936)
Mary Tyler Moore – Actress (1936)
Joe Namath – New York Jets Quarterback & Super Bowl Champ (1943)
Jack Nicholson – Actor (1937)
Al Pacino – Actor (1940)
Colin Powell Retired General (US Army), Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, & Secretary of State (1937)
Paul Prudhomme – Chef (1940)
Robert Redford – Actor & Producer (1936)
Pete Rose – Professional Baseball Player (1941)
Diana Ross of the Supremes (1944)
Jay Rockefeller – U.S. Senator and former West Virginia Governor (1937)
Barbra Streisand – Singer & Actress (1942)
Ted Turner Entrepreneur & Media Mogul (1938)
Tina Turner – Entertainer (1939)
Jack Welch – G.E. Chairman/CEO (1935)
Raquel Welch – Actress (1940)
Jerry West – NBA Icon (1938)
to describe a BOBBY-SOXER who represents this generation [They don’t have to be well known like the people above].
PLEASE discuss ways in which their personality, needs and demands will be different than the “Greatest Generation” and/or individuals currently residing in senior living communities.
[ii] Peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
[iii] 2010 projections are from: Table 12. Projections of the Population by Age and Sex for the United States: 2010 to 2050 (NP2008-T12), Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau; Release Date: August 14, 2008