AARP, research group NORC create Foresight 50+ to survey older adults

The research provides views of people aged 50 and older, which can support product development and marketing.

(Photo credit: Getty Images).
(Photo credit: Getty Images).

CHICAGO: AARP and NORC, an independent social science research organization affiliated with the University of Chicago, have launched a service to poll individuals in the U.S. who are age 50 and older. 

Foresight 50+ will conduct research to help companies, brands, foundations and government agencies learn more about consumers in the demographic, which represents more than a third of the U.S. population.

This 50-plus group that includes part of Gen X, Baby Boomers and older adults wields substantial financial power and influence. It contributes to the U.S. economy at a level that would amount to the world’s third-largest economy, according to a 2019 AARP study. The report found that this age group’s economic impact was $8.3 trillion in 2018 and was projected to hit $28 trillion by 2050.

Highlights from the latest Foresight 50+ research include a study showing the 50-and-older age set experienced greater depression due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Another case study revealed 96% say Social Security is an important government program, with 74% saying a major health problem could result in financial devastation. A third report found 70% of respondents video chatted last year, with a third doing so on weekly. 

Existing data points can support both the development and marketing of products. The survey panel will also take on new research.

“With the private sector practice, we anticipate Foresight 50+ will be retained under contract, to do surveys for retailers and brands,” said Michael Dennis, NORC SVP and executive director of NORC’s AmeriSpeak. As examples of potential users, he added, “It could be a health insurance company or companies in the business of designing, creating and marketing home-improvement products to improve quality of life or safety for the elderly in their own homes.”

The panel comprises nearly 30,000 individuals, who have agreed to participate in the surveys. A typical project would use just a fraction of the pool, usually with 1,000 to 4,000 interviews. The scale distinguishes the studies, uniquely with this older demographic.

In addition to research information for developing products, the data can back up marketing efforts.

“The marketer can have confidence that those results are accurate and reliable, whatever the measure is,” said Dennis.

He pointed out NORC’s 80-year history of high-quality research and integrity of scientific principles supports its reputation. The organization’s contracts have a clause that forbids clients from presenting any data NORC collects in a misleading manner.

“NORC is world renowned for its impartiality and rejection of the idea that surveys should be conducted in order to provide a biased or slanted point of view on anything,” Dennis said. “It’s in our DNA at NORC to have a mentality that we simply will not take on work that has a predetermined conclusion to it.”

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