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The Longevity Economy Gold Rush is Officially On
The New Longevity, venture capitalists are waking up to older consumers, why connect marketing works best in the longevity economy, and Boomer real estate.
Hello fellow longevity economy explorer!
It’s time for this week’s Longevity Gains newsletter, plus an all new episode of the podcast.
On this week’s episode of the show, we're talking to Michael Clinton. He was publisher of GQ Magazine from 1988 to 1994 before becoming an executive at Condé Nast until 1997.
Clinton then joined Hearst Magazines as senior vice president and chief marketing officer. Beginning in 2010, Michael was the president, marketing and publishing director of Hearst Magazines and also served on the board of directors.
He’s also a photographer, has traveled through 124 countries, has run marathons on 7 continents, holds two master’s degrees, and still has a long list of life experiences that he plans to tackle.
Oh, did I mention that he’s 70? It’s easy to forget that part. Clinton is an example of the “new longevity,” and he’s actively helping to spread the word about the opportunities of the longevity economy.
After “retiring” in 2020, he remains as senior media advisor to the CEO of Hearst. But what he’s truly focused on is his next-phase venture – ROAR Forward, which complements the book he released in 2021 called ROAR into the second half of your life.
Tune in for some amazing insights into the longevity economy, including brand examples of who is getting it right.
The Longevity Economy Gold Rush
If you had to sum up Longevity Gains in two sentences, it could be these two:
Getting older isn’t what it used to be. There’s big money in aging.
That’s the actual headline of a new MarketWatch article that discusses the opportunities of the longevity economy in general, and reports on developments at the recent USC Age is Now/Aging is the Future Entrepreneurship Symposium:
The realization that aging offers a tremendous opportunity for innovation and profit looks to be sinking in. At least that’s the main impression from attending a recent conference at the University of Southern California. The one-day conference — USC Age is Now/Aging is the Future Entrepreneurship Symposium — brought together venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, researchers, and industry leaders looking for opportunities in the market for older adults.
It looks like VCs are finally waking up to age tech and the broader market:
“Things are getting hot,” said David Krane, head of GV (previously known as Google Ventures), during his panel session. “More and more people are waking up and seeing change is possible.”
The bottom line is that it’s still early, and that’s good news for us. But 2023 has definitely revealed a noticeable shift in awareness that should get you motivated to start now:
Tectonic shifts take time to unfold, especially early on. But it’s good news that the venture capital community and entrepreneurs are increasingly aware that aging is an economic opportunity for innovation and creativity—and profit.
Let’s go to work.
Silver Into Gold
Continuing with our “gold rush” metaphor, here’s an article from earlier in the year that was just now making the rounds on social media. Frankly, the ideas are fairly generic, but there are some decent nuggets in there.
I found this tip to be the most interesting:
1. Use text.
In my experience, text is important in communications with adult customers, and a short explanation will typically generate more appreciation than a piece of original branding or a successful design. Text explanations should be structured and valuable. Avoid slang and abbreviations as well.
I’ve been saying that content marketing will likely be the most effective form of marketing to older consumers, but not for the vague reasons the author presented. Traditional brand advertising has a problem with older consumers due to subjective age – or the fact that we feel younger than our chronological ages and often don’t identify with images of people our own age.
This doesn’t mean that audio or video can’t work as well. It’s just that you need to connect with people at the identity level with shared values and attitudes (like Apple) and less with images of “people like me,” especially given that older consumers often don’t see it that way.
Baby boomers may cause home values to sink
A couple of Longevity Gains Premium subscribers are in the real estate industry, and have asked me (given that I was once a broker) what I think about the intersection between older consumers and residential real estate.
My answer has basically been, “Encourage your older clients to sell now if they’re planning to downsize.” That’s because based on the demographic inflection point we’re approaching in 2030, I see the market being flooded with large expensive homes once every Baby Boomer is over 65 and Gen X starts hitting the mark.
Turns out Wall Street analyst Meredith Whitney agrees with me. She sees a major correction in the housing market coming thanks to Baby Boomers selling their homes en masse:
An unprecedented pace of property price growth has disproportionately benefited baby boomers and the silent generation. Whitney noted that the average homeowner has never been older, while young people priced out from the abnormally tight market may struggle to catch up.
"If you look at the percentage of homeowners that are 50 and up, that's a staggering amount. And if you look at it historically, 50% of those over 50 typically sell and downsize, and that's expense-driven."
Whitney believes that property values will decline as the home supply shortage turns into a glut. The housing market will get flooded with tons of properties from both homebuilders still playing catch-up and older sellers looking to downsize and save, Whitney said.
This is good news for younger buyers who are currently priced out of the market. And while it likely won’t amount to a crash, it will bring some sanity back to the U.S. housing market. The question is, if you’re one of these homeowners, what do you do about it?
We’re about to sell our home in Boulder because my wife and I are off to travel the world starting next year. But I’d be lying if I didn’t also see this as an ideal time to take that equity off the table.
That’s it for this week. And just so I’m clear … let’s get to work!