About 50 million people in the baby boomer generation are entering, or will soon enter, into their “golden years” of retirement. As this new generation moves closer to retirement each year, what are they expecting for their senior living years? And how can the senior living industry adapt to their expectations and market effectively to them?
The oldest of the baby boomers hit 65 in 2011. The rest are following suit, with about 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day since. In fact, this aging generation is raising the median age of Americans. Once at 29.5 in 1960, the projected median age in 2030 is 50 years old. This generational cohort is being introduced to the senior living industry in record numbers. It brings the potential to change the current senior living industry with their expectations and needs, as well as increase occupancy and flood the market with demand.
Senior living’s leads and prospects pool is expanding to record numbers. However, some aging seniors are opting for home caregivers and the pandemic is causing trepidation about senior living. So it’s more important than ever to address the growing concerns and needs of the generation to support the influx in the market. Here, we’ll discuss how the senior living community can adapt and market to baby boomers and their needs and expectations.
But First, Who Are Baby Boomers?
Making up the second-largest generation (closely trailing millennials), this generation describes the 76.1 million Americans that were born between 1946-1964. The name derives from the spike in births post-World War II.
This generational group has seen the world change greatly over their 56-74 years of life. Each shared cultural moment affected their values, beliefs, and mindsets—creating new generational ideals different from their parents in the Silent Generation. They were the first generation to grow up watching tv and saw the rise of the Beatles, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Vietnam War.
As A Result Of Their Experiences, The Baby Boomer Generation Values:
These values and characteristics make up a generation of buying behavior and, ultimately, living behavior for later in life. This group reached adulthood in the 1960’s through the early 1980’s. Since then, they have controlled the markets due to their sheer size and influence over trends and the economy. They came into adulthood during a booming economy and built up their savings and incomes. They continue to hold large amounts of money today.
How The Senior Living Industry Can Meet Baby Boomer’s Expectations
As adult children, many are likely already familiar with senior living. They may have helped their parents or other relatives search for assisted living and memory care. This has likely shaped their expectations and caused them to form certain perceptions.
Creating messaging and using marketing tactics that speak specifically to baby boomers can have a positive effect on reaching your prospects and leads. Plus, it can help overcome any potential negative perceptions that may be holding them back from community living in general. Marketing to the younger subset now while they may still be researching care for their parents can crack away at any previous expectations. This can leave a positive impression for down the road when they’re searching for themselves.
Placing an emphasis on words that promote health and wellness, independence and activeness, and vibrant living can combat potential negative perceptions created from past experiences. For more on the best words to use in representing the senior living industry, read here.
So, what does this mean for your community? Baby boomers hold a lot of buying power. Meaning senior living communities will need to cater—and market—to their needs, expectations, and possible negative perceptions.
Commit To On-Site Changes To Meet The Desires & Needs Of Baby Boomers.
Baby boomers have likely grown accustomed to a more upscale lifestyle and will expect senior living communities to live up to their current way of life. This can take shape in different ways. Baby boomers may gravitate towards equity-ownership communities. These would allow them to continue their custom of homeownership and protect their hard-earned nest egg after years of working.
But it can also mean that adapting with actual on-site changes to meet the desires of these potential new residents may be what’s coming down the pipeline for many communities that are less adapted to the newer needs and wants. Modern, newer, upscale environments with more vibrancy are going to be big-ticket items for aging baby boomers that are used to the homes that they’ve built over many years and are looking to secure a comfortable retirement.
Focus On Amenities & Services That Promote High-End Value.
Building (or renovating) high-style, older-adult communities for a wealthier market of seniors will be a strength to senior living communities trying to reach this generation of seniors. Also, offering exceptional services and amenities past the expectation of just health care. Amenities will appeal to those looking for a nicer lifestyle than their “grandmother’s nursing home,” and will also work to combat potential perceptions of it.
Adults who are used to independence and individualism will transition (and convert) easier to communities that offer premium amenities. Such as:
- Movie theatres
- Premium gyms
- Art studios
- Happy Hours
Offer Customization and Personalization.
But this cohort also expects customizable options and personalized experiences. This plays into the control and individualism of the generation. Communities will need to offer personalized options and provide robust activity opportunities to appease active, independent seniors. Messaging focused on these newer amenities and updated services will attract this generation who want to stay active and comfortable and have the money to do so.
This focus on benefits will also attract those looking for both value and comfort in their retirement lifestyle. Baby boomers may have built up their retirement savings, but they’ll expect value in return.
However, internal upgrades to amenities are not the only component to consider. For seniors desiring an urban lifestyle in their retirement years, external factors will be just as important. The location of the community and the accessibility to off-site amenities, such as grocery stores, shopping, etc., will likely influence moving decisions. This allows seniors the ability to independently take part in nearby conveniences and remain part of the greater community. Walkability, or access to transportation, allows them to maintain independence and wellness on their own.
Promote Health & Wellness.
As baby boomers age, it probably comes as no surprise that health is on their minds. Physical fitness and exercise are top priorities to 67% of them.
But more than just physical fitness, wellness and healthy living are what many seek in senior community living. Rather than entering into a nursing home for health care in their later years like previous generations, baby boomers are searching for a way of life as well as the promise of health care. Maintaining their independence is on their minds for the present but also being prepared for any future health issues that may arise.
Healthy Living For The Future.
One solution may be Life Plan communities that offer independent community living with amenities, independence, and socialization along with the promise of assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, or rehabilitation care in the future. It’s likely an appealing option to baby boomers who have wellness and financial value on their minds.
Promoting healthy dining options is another way for senior living communities to market effectively to baby boomers’ expectations. They’re looking to monitor their eating habits and stay healthy but don’t want to compromise the quality of their dining experience. So, messaging surrounding the many dining options, food images, or even sharing recipes of gourmet meals provided at the community is a fun and intriguing way for leads and prospects to get a sense of a community and its focus on wellness and healthy living.
While older adults may get a bad rap in terms of technology use, baby boomers truly have adopted technology and social media into their everyday lives. In 2019, 68% of baby boomers owned smartphones and had embraced them as part of their new lifestyle.
Adding technology into the senior living experience, such as with resident portals on the website, or integrating iPads and virtual platforms into the daily experience on-site, provides seniors with a more modern and connected community lifestyle.
Even further, utilizing technology and digital means, like virtual tours and email marketing, to also market to older adults can be an effective tactic to generate inquiries and potential leads, especially during a public health crisis like COVID-19.
Another aspect of marketing to baby boomers is having them buy into the senior living model to become future sources of referrals. According to Nielsen, people are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend.
With this large group entering into this experience at roughly the same time, communities will need to embrace the power of spreading the word to friends and family or by visiting people in your community and seeing it firsthand.
Asking for reviews on Google, Facebook, the community website, and even in-person from residents will help spread the word and attract new leads. Satisfied residents want to help promote their own community and recruit new neighbors they know to fill the halls. Communities will need to engage with referrals and recognize the power behind this marketing tool. If you need a resident referral program to help get you started, Angell Marketing can help.
How Can The Senior Living Industry Meet Their Needs? Ask Baby Boomers.
Make sure to remember that each segment of the baby boomer population has different needs and senior living desires. It’s not one size fits all. As baby boomers enter more into the process of senior living, we’ll get a better idea of what this market is specifically looking for in the coming years. The best way to know? By asking baby boomers.
Conducting market research, sending out surveys (both online or through the mail), and even engaging in in-person focus groups will be useful tools to know exactly how to cater to the baby boomer audience. (This information can also help in creating buyer’s personas for marketing strategies.)
Learn new ways to connect, engage, and adapt to the baby boomer generation with the help of Angell Marketing. Discover how we can help your community, and contact us today!