Dynamic, influential, constantly evolving, and nuanced: all descriptors that can apply to a variety of demographics, but none more so than Americans 50 and older. This age group often finds themselves front and center as the target for many products, marketing campaigns, and policy initiatives, and for good reason.
Older American adults, inclusive of Gen X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation, represent a huge market sector currently wielding notable monetary influence. For example, a 2019 study found that their financial contributions to the U.S. economy equate to an amount equal to the world’s third largest economy. Many of these individuals serve as the heads of their households and account for more than 50% of all consumer expenditures. This spending includes over 70% of medical and pharmaceutical products and services, 61% of household goods, and 51% of food products, according to the U.S. Consumer Expenditures Survey.
This buying power is only set to rise. Over the next 10 years we’re projected to see them representing over half of U.S. GDP and making a financial impact of $28 trillion by 2050.
However, despite Americans 50 and older holding such significant buying power, they are often underrepresented or misrepresented when it comes to the decision-making process for the campaigns directed to them. Ensuring accurate representation of their thoughts and behaviors is more critical now than ever before, especially when considering recent large-scale events like the COVID-19 pandemic. In many nations, and particularly in the U.S., the population of older adults was significantly affected, and from numerous angles including labor, health, and general social interactions.
Knowing the importance of this group, how then can you adequately leverage the right insights for your project or initiative that will impact them? It comes down to the research.
When trying to target older adults in research, there are often barriers to reaching them, and it’s important to utilize different methodologies that can guarantee you’re receiving accurate data to inform your decisions. Until recently, there wasn’t a dependable solution to ensure this. Something had to be developed that provided high-quality data to everyone and that was customizable to specific needs. The answer came in the form of Foresight 50+.
Foresight 50+ by AARP and NORC is the largest high-quality panel offering deep insight into the views and behaviors of Americans 50 and older. By combining the consumer expertise of AARP with the scientific rigor of NORC, Foresight 50+ acts as an industry disrupter.
“Accuracy in the results is absolutely critical in order to make informed business, marketing, and policy decisions to inform C-suite strategies for this age demographic,” said J. Michael Dennis, NORC SVP and Executive Director of NORC’s AmeriSpeak Panel. “With Foresight 50+, companies and organizations can get accurate and relatively affordable and fast insights because the panel is scientifically sound and already established.”
Many existing research and sample sources for the 50+ population are often skewed in a way that doesn’t provide an authentic representation of how all adults 50 and older think, feel, and experience life. Foresight 50+ uses a high-quality probabilistic design to survey older adults across the U.S. to provide the accuracy and confidence needed for your studies, a feat that isn’t possible with opt-in, non-probability sample sources. These low-cost, convenient sample sources often have massive overrepresentation of certain subgroups of the 50+ population, as well as important gaps that exclude other subgroups within the 50+ population.
“It’s very difficult to discern when you are receiving a good solid number from opt-in non-probability panels vs when you aren’t. When there’s an expensive decision to be made, whether in terms of dollars, strategy, or legislation, companies need to know that they know,” said John Fries, Director of AARP Research Services.
Data discovered through the Foresight 50+ panel have already illuminated important trends among the 50+ community. The recent AARP Work & Jobs Data Series survey focused on the Great Resignation and found that about two in 5 adults 50+ who had retired, left a job, or considered leaving a job wouldn't have made the decision to do so had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic, with one in 5 retiring earlier than planned because of it. Another Foresight 50+ study on the effects of COVID-19 on mental health found that seven in 10 Americans aged 50 and over report an increase in sadness or depression because of the pandemic.
As you consider how to move the needle in a way that matters, and to make better policies, products, services, and information that truly serves the 50+ population, invest in research that allows you to hear the authentic voices of this powerful demographic.
For more information on how to use Foresight 50+ insights for your next project, visit Foresight50.norc.org.