Tag Archives: Demography

Growing Older But Not Up

Jimmy Buffett wrong a song almost 40 years ago called “Growing Older But Not Up.” He wrote the song after breaking his leg in a charity softball game while running the bases. It’s a song I think about fairly often as I’m aging.

Our bodies grow older and change but we still think we’re eternally 25 and able to do all of the silly things we did then without consequences. We sometimes fail to recognize that we’ve changed and we need to deal with the world differently:

Though my mind is quite flexible
These brittle bones don’t bend.

Amen, brother. He was 34 when he wrote that and he says he’s still behaving badly at 71 though to a far lesser degree. The only constant is change, right? I think so, although I wonder sometimes if many in business recognize that this country is changing as it grows older too. I mean that literally. The country is aging, and it’s probably one of the most important changes affecting everyone in business. My generation, the baby boomers, are living longer, the birth rate is down among younger people, and we’re an older population. Here’s a tidbit:

Census figures show that fewer than 17 percent of U.S. counties reported a decrease in median age from April 2010 to July 2017, with the majority of those counties clustered in the Midwest. Nationally, the median age rose to 38.0 years in 2017, up from 37.2 years in 2000.

Doesn’t sound like much of a change but it represents the reason why we see many more ads for drugs (older folks are generally sicker), bigger cars, retirement accounts, and other things. So the question to you is how are you preparing for, and dealing with, the demographic changes that are happening? We’re becoming a more diverse nation too but that’s a much more complicated answer than focusing on age.

You have a couple of choices. You can reexamine your product mix and see if it appeals to people over 50. I’m not sure that Facebook thought it was a senior product but that’s what it has become as young folks are using it less and less. If it has appeal, maybe you need to be targeting that older segment, or at least testing.

The other choice is to deny the change. You’d be like Jimmy, trying to pursue things that reality makes less possible. Your heart and mind might be the right place but your market has changed and you need to adjust your thinking. We can all complain about the changes to the market but we can’t reverse them. Make sense?

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Filed under Thinking Aloud, What's Going On