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Market intelligence is only the starting point.

As someone who’s spent my entire professional career in the senior living industry, it’s invigorating to see so many other industries focusing on our aging population, particularly the Baby Boomers. But one thing I’ve learned – many distinct cohorts make up this dynamic and powerful group of people. And while this may be more pronounced with Baby Boomers, we saw this with their parents and grandparents as well.

When advertising and marketing to Boomers (or any large cohort), targeting and segmentation is essential. Targeting allows you to zero in on the details, funneling information from broad to specific. Market research provides a means to gather data you need in targeting, how you refine that data and apply it to your unique market makes all the difference.

Let’s think globally.

In the next 5 years, the number of people age 65 and older worldwide will outpace the younger population for the first time in history. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 617 million people were age 65 and older in 2015. By 2030, this number is projected to increase to 1 billion seniors worldwide, representing 12 percent of the total population.

Now let’s narrow that information down a bit. We know that about 10,000 people turn 65 every day, and that will continue to happen for the next 15 years. This year, approximately 3 million people nationwide will turn 71. Imagine what that will look like just in your local market.

According to our nationwide research, Boomers are very concerned about remaining healthy and independent, ranking fitness and overall wellness as their #1 priority as they age. Boomers are spending more quality time with their families (especially with grandchildren) and enjoy travel in all forms. Many Boomers will continue to work past “typical” retirement age. Some choose to do this, but many others need to work for financial reasons.

Local research provides specific and actionable insight.

It’s great to know that Boomers value health and wellness, but specifically how these concepts resonate with Boomers is extremely localized. And when I say localized, I mean exactly that. We see notable lifestyle differences and preference shifts between markets located just a hundred miles apart.

I recently had the pleasure of leading research programs for two start-up communities in the same state, about a 2-hour drive from one another. The developments share an identical demographic profile in terms of age and financial qualifications. But when we conducted focus groups in both markets, we learned what consumers expected and desired from each of these communities was vastly different.

Like our global insight, consumers in both of these markets prioritized wellness, though how they wanted to live a healthy lifestyle was very localized. It shows that a one-size-fits-all mentality is never the answer.

It’s also important to consider the other factors that are influencing or changing the local market. Has a new highway or shopping center just been built? How about the shiny new community down the street? Has it created an unexpected and pent-up demand for your nearby not-for-profit Life Plan Community?

Take the time to learn.

Although local research has always been a critical component to our approach, recently it’s become an even more critical aspect of our learning process. Why? Because today’s consumers demand even more personalization and customization.

Senior Living is evolving on a daily basis and those changes are based on the preferences of consumers.

I visit hundreds of communities each year and every successful community has elements that make it distinctive. Local research is the key to unlocking what makes your community, your staff and your consumers tick. With this understanding, you can then build programs, brands and entire communities wholly focused on delivering an exceptional experience, perfect for the people who choose to live there.

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