Designing For Retiring Baby Boomers Becoming Big Business

from the boomer-mania dept

For years, it's been predicted that as the baby boom generation started reaching retirement age, companies would finally start focusing on designing products for senior citizens. In the past, it's always been a much smaller focus -- but with such a large demographic all heading into the silver years at the same time (and with great purchasing power), it comes as no surprise that suddenly, it's fashionable to be designing products for a generation older than you. Prior to this, many felt that few companies focused on designing products for an older generation, because most working people had obviously never gone through the process of being elderly. The article doesn't talk too much about technology (a little about automobile design, mainly), but it's likely that we're going to see plenty more articles along these lines -- and maybe a few less focusing on teenagers and young adults.


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  1.  
    identicon
    ?, Mar 17th, 2006 @ 1:32am

    you are kidding right?

    The baby boomer's aren't going to have as much purchasing power as people think. People base this assumption off of current trend data, which says that old people have lots of money to spare (because these days they do).

    I think the baby boomers are going to continue the emerging trend of making the government buy your stuff for you. They already expect it, because their parents have been successful at opening those doors. And because of this expectation that the government is going to buy your stuff for you, the baby boomers haven't been wise stewards of their money, and haven't held onto it.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2006 @ 3:55am

    Re: you are kidding right? or are you just ignoran

    Spare me the neocon spin on this and spend the time reviewing economic data with reality. Better yet -- go live in reality for a while and see if your POV holds up with outsourcing, health care costs, downsizing, helping children cope with rising tuition, etc.

    Adam Smith's view of "the invisible hand" originated in his Theory of Moral Sentiments, which is frequently ignored by those without the ability to comprehend (let alone assimilate!) ethical concepts. Of course, if you work for the corporate welfare queens of KBR, Halliburton, or numerous others, none of this will make sense.

    Since they played a big role in the development and use of technology, Boomers will find ways to use existing technology -- and more -- in their retirement.

     

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  3.  
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    Beck, Mar 17th, 2006 @ 4:46am

    Cell Phones and Remotes

    Hopefully they'll start with cell phones. How about a phone with big, easy-to-read and easy-to-press buttons for aging arthritic fingers.

    Then create a simple remote control with a minimal number of big, easy-to-read and easy-to-press buttons to control a television.

     

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  4.  
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    Me, Mar 17th, 2006 @ 4:47am

    Re: Re: you are kidding right? or are you just ign

    Yes technology will play a key role and an ever creative investment community with the rise of some many new investment vehicle. Though spending is higher in baby boomers than depression age people, many of them have saved for retirement and are eligible for social security and pension income. These will atleast create a firm bottom for many. But people are living longer and with the baby boomers smack in the middle of the population and about ready to retire there may be a strain on their resources since they are forced to support their children and their $300 phone bills and excessive spending and the parents who are older and may have finacial needs of their own.

     

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  5.  
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    slipnby, Mar 17th, 2006 @ 6:03am

    Re: Cell Phones and Remotes

    Instead of an 8"x11" keyboard, how about reliable voice recognition (works in my razr cell phone today) and clear audio feedback (use a good speaker). I've seen a couple remotes with these (although poorly implemented) features. Should certain US vendors stop disabeling these cell phone features, US consumers could live in the 21st century with Asia and Europe. Alas, modern telecommunications laws and disincentives for our greedy telecommunications vendors could make a big difference for everyone. The trend is not in this direction unfortunately, at this time.

     

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  6.  
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    dani, Mar 17th, 2006 @ 6:56am

    the only problem is, no one predicted the fact that major companies would begin to "get rid of" these baby boomers as they reached retirement age, causing some major ripples in the financial pool for these older Americans.

    My dad has just fallen victim to this new "trend". The day before his 55th birthday he was "let go" from his 25+ year position, the last 12 he spent as a supervisor. He's not the first of his co-workers to be terminated around this age for no good reason. And Eaton is not the only guilty company, Ford has a class action suit against them for similar reasons.

    Now, my dad, and others in his situation, who planned to work another 10 years making $50,000 a year, adding to their growing pension plans, have 2 options...

    Retire now, with a lot less money and an extra 10 years to suppot yourself with this money...
    or hold onto to the retirement plan so it can grow interest(will not be as much as 10 yrs working with the company) and find a new job, most likely making less per year.

    Regardless, the baby boomers will not have the money producers foresee if the producers keep firing their "almost retirement age" employees.

     

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  7.  
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    Hallie Miles, Mar 17th, 2006 @ 7:37am

    Not such a new trend...

    My stepfather went through the same thing back in the early '80s. He was the chief maintanence engineer at the plant he work at until it was taken over and the new company decided they had better uses for the pension fund than to paying for pensions. A year and a half before his retirement date he was forced out of the company and lost all of his benefits. From what he told me they did the same to everyone that was within five years of drawing a pension. So, no, it's not a new scheme.

    What I find more unsettling, though, is the trend to dump your pension fund on the government and let the Feds take care of it. Now the people who had a substantial pension package and had planned accordingly are finding that they're NOT going to be able to live the lifestyle they had planned on, if in fact they can even afford to retire when they had thought to.

     

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  8.  
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    Worbod, Mar 17th, 2006 @ 7:58am

    Re: Cell Phones and Remotes

    I agree. VCRs, DVD Players and TVs all have gray on black letters that are about a 6pt font. If they want to sell HDTVs to Babyboomers, they'd better make the controls easier to read.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2006 @ 10:33am

    Baby Boomers are the most self-centered, conceited, greedy, and destructive generation that this country will ever produce. The sooner they are six feet under, the sooner we can begin the arduous process of repairing the damage that they have created. Until that day, be prepared to watch them drain every drop of resources out of this country and this planet in the name of their all-consuming lust for material possessions.

     

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  10.  
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    sllipnby, Mar 17th, 2006 @ 10:51am

    Re: boomers

    Yeh, and they stink. Get up close to these old people and take a wiff....the smell is wretched. And FAT, good golly they just let themselves go...count em...79M fat, stinky, good for nothing, lazy, shiftless, selfsh bums. Boomer parents should be turning over in their graves, and, if alive, in deep shame for for what they have produced. And boomer spawn, well the apple does not fall far from the tree! The current generation, one step from the boomer children, has learned from this excess, and if America is to survive, they alone will bear an intolerable burden of reconstruction. The boomers will leave their progeny nothing and suck out their essences to ensure their pain will be enduring til death. The 21st century will be blackened by this plague, and progress will be marginal at best.

     

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  11.  
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    Geoff, Mar 19th, 2006 @ 11:10am

    Baby boomers

    50% of UK are over 46 at the moment apparently. Problem with font sizes is also due to low contrast that most designers (under 30) also use. The guy who said we stink should read about Patricia Moores travels in 1979-82 http://www.interiordesign.net/id_newsarticle/CA6300599.html

     

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  12.  
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    Mr Stinky, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 11:29pm

    Re: Re: boomers

    I think we baby boomers should be criticized most strongly for our well meaning pandering to the whims of our spoilt children. We seem to have engendered quite a few impatient brats who are even more enamoured of "get it quick - save later" lifestyles than our generation. At least we had the advantage of seeing the frugal lifestyles of our parents and grandparents and know that we can survive if we have to. You, Sllipnby and Anonymous Coward, who preceded you, seem to be having a tantrum just thinking of being denied what you imagine is your immediate right. Start saving mate because it is going to be a hard road into your retirement.

     

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  13.  
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    trebail, Jul 30th, 2006 @ 5:15pm

    Products for Baby Boomers and Handicapped

    I'm not a baby boomer, but I've been nearsighted ALL my life. ********* I ********* WOULD BUY a cell phone with number keys large enough for ONE button to be pressed at a time.

    What would be wrong with having a line of products designed for men with large hands, whose fingers are just too large to push only one of those little flat buttons you can't tell apart on the current cell phones?

    What would be wrong with having a line of products designed for people who are actively working, raising children, and doing volunteer work, but have difficulty reading the current cell phone screens?

    Women have massive buying power - if you don't believe it, just look at the number of mini-vans on the roads. I'm a 30-something working mother with nearsightedness, I NEED A PHONE WITH BIGGER BUTTONS, A CLEARER DISPLAY, AND A HEADSET THAT DOESN'T HAVE TO STICK IN MY EAR.



    And as far as finances go... the babyboomers OVERALL, are the wealthiest generation ever. Population boomed and when they reached working ages, the economy boomed as well.

    It's a shame that so many of their grandchildren and greatgrandchildren didn't learn respect, compassion, tolerance, thrift, and a decent work ethic. (as evidenced by the posts preceding this one)

     

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  14.  
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    Sherri Dangerfield, Dec 22nd, 2006 @ 6:44am

    Baby boomer cell phone

    where can I purchase a baby boomer cell phone?

     

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  15.  
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    last minute linda, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 11:20am

    Re: Anonymous Cowart

    I assume your parents are spending all their hard earned money on themselves and you cant stand the thought that they might not leave you a cent. Maybe they have realized that they themselves have raisd a self-centered, conceited, greedy, and destructive spoiled child that doesnt want to earn his own money .I hope they spend it all and dont leave you a penny! it would serve you right!!! I know I'm gonna spend all mine even though my child works for his.I raised him I dont owe him a penny .I Love him but I wont do without just so I can leave him a lot of money. PEACE

     

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  16.  
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    VigilanteNighthawk, Apr 12th, 2008 @ 1:47am

    Last Minute Linda:. Please, get over yourselves. I think this is the biggest reason those of us in the Gen X and Y are so ticked off with much of your generation. Your generation was handed a handed the greatest wealth and prosperity the world had ever seen throughout human history and flushed it down the toilet. Your parent's ideal was the 40 work week, something prior generations literally fought and died for (shoot outs with pinkertons, dismantling of railroads, etc), but your generation decided they wanted more stuff and decided they wanted to work twice as long to get it. That's fine, but don't call us lazy when we value our families and lives just as much as our work, and don't want to be required to put in the same time for less pay in real wages.

    And let us talk about compensation. When your generation got out of school, a college education practically guaranteed a good job. Now, many in my generation (Y) are having trouble finding any work out of college, especially work that pays us enough TO LIVE ON OUR OWN. I'm not talking about buying expensive clothes, techno gadgets, and all other such nonsense. I'm talking about making rent each month and still being able to afford food that doesn't come in a styrofoam cup. You have borrowed, leveraged, speculated, horded, and outsourced our futures.

    Of course, my generation is lazy you say. We don't want to pay our dues, you say. Guess what, its because we have been paying them since we were born!. In high school we had to have AP courses, honors courses, activities, community service, hours of homework and jobs just get into a decent college. Then, in that college, we had to get 3.5+ averages and have internships and activities while working jobs and taking on massive debt to pay the ever increasing cost of an education. And at college, what did you do? Dodge a draft, smoke pot, have sex and trash the place, not because you were fighting for a moral cause, but because your butts were on the line.

    Now, to many boomers, I apologize. I know many of you did work hard for your kids, and hopefully they are thankful for it. I know my parents (late boomers/early Xers) did sacrifice for me. I know many of you did fight for causes you believed in, and stopped either because you thought you had won or had to attend to your own needs. Thank you for your contributions. Unfortunately, many in the generations coming up are struggling. We were told that if we worked hard and sacrificed in school, that we would be able to get jobs that would allow us to be independent. For many of us, this is a lie, and we are bitter. Do we feel entitled? Somewhat, but only to what we have already worked for, a job that allows us to not have to worry about making next month's bills.

    We aren't looking forward to the future. We know that social security won't be there for us. As it stands, our government can't even afford to maintain the roads anymore. We see the cost of everything rising dramatically. All of these things we can deal with, but we become angry when members of your generation mock us and call us lazy and taunt us with the fact that you will be the last generation to get social security, we can't help but lash out. Many of the current problems were caused by our greedy, incompetent corporate and civil leaders who are themselves boomers. All we can see are less jobs, less pay, less time, and a worsening environment. Many of us have spoken up about these things and have been dismissed.

    In short: Please, just lay off of us.

     

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