Survey Shows Boomer Markets
French, Steve, Aging Today
New research from the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), based in Harleysville, Pa.,' where I am the managing partner, shows that consumers of all generations are expressing a desire for control over their health, lifestyle, finances and other critical issues. At the same time, they want new, innovative products and more information. Findings also reveal that consumers are increasingly fragmented in their market behavior. Boomers are no exception, but they face unique challenges as they age and contemplate the prospect of their next life phase.
The perspective and data contained in this article were derived from NMTs annual quantitative study, the Healthy Aging/Boomer Database, which in 2007 surveyed 3,092 U.S. adults and now contains three years of data since 2005 showing consumer trends. NMI released the report at the 2007 Joint Conference of the American Society on Aging and National Council on Aging in Chicago in March.
Three of the top issues for boomers, the 78 rnillion people in the United States born from 1946 through 1964, relate to financial concerns. Three-quarters of survey respondents indicated that having enough money to live on is the most important issue concerning them today; having enough money to retire came in a very close second. Having enough money for healthcare ranked fourth in importance, behind relationships with family and friends.
Overall financial health, such as from savings and investing, was sixth on the priority list, with almost two-thirds of boomers calling it very important. This concern fell slightly below boomers' fifth priority, their desire to have enough energy to do what they want to do. Issues rounding out the top 10 focused on health concerns, such as mental and brain health, preventing certain diseases and health conditions, maintaining proper weight, and eating a healthy and nutritious diet.
Despite these concerns, a majority of boomers showed optimism toward their financial health. Many believe their financial situation will be better in 10-20 years, feel they have met most of their financial obligations and have a specific monetary goal for retirement. Conversely, only two out of five said they have a secure, financially sound plan for retirement and that they are on target with that plan.
In addition, only one in four survey participants feels substantial control over having enough money to retire. How, then, will the majority of boomers fund their retirement? Two-thirds indicated a desire to get an enjoyable part-time job after they retire. Once they retire, onethird of responding boomers want to work part time for a while; another third said they'll work part tune or full time as long as possible. For some, that desire extends from their not being financially prepared for retirement, whereas for others, it springs from the wish to remain active.
Without a solid financial foundation in place, what do surveyed boomers consider to be their major sources of retirement income? Among the respondents, 45% expected Social security to fill the gap for them, 35% said they have workplace retirement plans for 35%, and 22% anticipate continuing their employment. Surveyed boomers in general show a strong tendency toward dependence on the government as a source of retirement income, with 90% planning to rely on government programs to fund their retirement. When asked which public issues they are most concerned with, respondents placed Social Security second-only slightly behind worries about terrorism on U.S. soil.
NMI's research also shows that boomers are relying increasingly on government programs in general. Although only 18% found such programs to be very important to them 20 years ago, more than half (52%) of boomers indicated that Social security, Medicare and other programs are important to them today. More than hah0 anticipate needing to depend on government programs as they age: 21% said they will rely on such programs a lot and 34% responded that they will need at least some government assistance. …