June 6, 2011: Seniors

This week, we’re going to break from our usual format and rather than discuss entrepreneurial opportunities, we’re going to talk about a specific demographic–seniors. Certainly there are a number of businesses you can start, or add to your existing business, that are related to seniors. You can find some of them in the eBook I wrote for StartupNation, 26 Hot Businesses to Start Right Now!

This senior boom is not confined to the United States; it’s a worldwide phenomenon. The most recent population forecast from the United Nations says that while today about 11 percent of the global population is over 60 years old, by 2050 this percentage is likely to double to 22 percent (about 2.2 billion people).

Here in the U.S., the first baby boomers turned 65 this year, but that doesn’t mean they’re getting ready to retire. Research company Mintel projects that at least 20 percent of Americans over age 65 will still be working in 2014.

If you’re marketing to seniors, understand that most don’t particularly like to be called seniors (even though, for the sake of clarity, that’s what I’ve called them here). If you’re marketing to this demographic, you have to remember they also don’t really think of themselves as “old.” According to a Pew Report, Americans ages 50 to 64 believe old age starts at 72 (while young folks ages 18 to 29 think if you’re 60, you’re old). Even those who are already 65 (and a little older) don’t believe you’re old when you turn 74.

One of the fastest-growing demographics in the U.S. population is people age 85 and older. Today there are about 5 million in this age group, but by 2050 there will likely be over 19 million of them.