Posted in on August 9, 2011

“Our Future Selves” – A Marketing Tool for Right Now

I look at the picture of the News21 team – a group of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism students (and maybe a professor or two) – and: they’re young. Yet this team has taken on a project that can yield great insights for my peers, those marketing to Baby Boomers, seniors, America’s older population.

The News21 team is reporting on aging. The introduction on the Our Future Selves website accurately notes

“Few changes will have as seismic an effect on the United States as the rate at which it’s growing old. The unprecedented proportion of older adults means change in every corner of our lives: our families, our workplaces, our communities.”

And excitingly, News21 is not limiting their inquiries to historic data or current trends. They’re looking at our future.  Based on interviews with economists, gerontologists and statisticians, they’ve offered projections – national, state and personal.

The “Our Future Selves” project includes an interactive tool that marketers focused on the 50+ population can use right now: an interactive that offers projections related to health, finances and more for the next 40 years based on who you are now.

A married, white 40-year old woman from Rhode Island? In 2040, I’ll be 70 and 84% of women born the same year as I was will be alive.  America’s population will have shifted from 65% white as it is now to 51% white.  And Rhode Island’s population will continue to be older than the national average. (I wonder if that’s the year I’ll finally convince the Providence Journal‘s business editor that marketing to 50+ is a newsworthy topic?)  I will spend far less on food and transport than an unmarried Hispanic woman my age, but far more on healthcare.

An unmarried, single 22-year old man from Pennsylvania? In 2040, I’ll be 52.  Nearly 23% of Pennsylvanians will be over 65. Fortunately, men of my ethnic group have a lower incidence of cancer than the average for all races and sexes. Unfortunately, as an unmarried renter, more of my income is going towards housing and that income is lower than that of the married white guy down the hall.

Take the “Our Future Selves” interactive for a test drive today, and learn more about what the future could hold for your targets.

A full website from the News21 team launches next week, under the banner “Brave Old World.” Looks like it will be a great resource for marketing insights.

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