On the corner of innovation and aging
We like Walgreen’s tagline, “At the corner of happy and healthy.” It’s a great summary of Walgreen’s combination of pharmacy and consumer goods. Walgreen’s has a preference for prominent corner locations. These locations emphasize their design standard with a corner entry door. That’s great marketing!
A business advisor recently asked, “What intersection of interests best describes your business focus?” We thought about it and decided we’re on the corner of innovation and aging. We’re looking for the players that look at change as an opportunity.
When you’re looking for aging services or housing, you want providers that can successfully recognize and respond to oncoming change. You may live in retirement for one or two decades or more. A lot can happen in that time. Inability to change is a business risk. Better to tie your future to a rising star.
The baby boomers are expected to increase the share of the population over the age of 65 by 70% by 2025. While the working age population only increases by 4%. Think about that. Less than ten years away. More people needing services, fewer workers. Ripe for technological change. And Boomers’ attitude towards technology (and other things) is different than the silent generation. In marketing terms, it’s not just demographics (the numbers) that are different. It’s also the Boomers’ psychographics (the behaviors, tastes, and preferences) that are different.
We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.
Bill Gates, from The Road Ahead, © 2006.
The Future Comes Sooner Than You Think
For boomers that grew up on StarTrek, the speed of change is obvious. StarTrek communicators first materialized as Motorola Startac flip phones and morphed into today’s smartphones. Dick Tracy’s watch is realized in the Apple iWatch or Motorola 360. Self-driving vehicles and plain language conversations with Artificial Intelligence (AI) computers are tantalizingly close.
The nonprofit senior services and living industry has an association LeadingAge.org. This association hosts a major annual convention that attracts more than 8,000 attendees. We attend the Annual Meeting to see what the industry is talking about. And we look for best practices and innovators.
Over the last ten years, a lot of the industry’s innovation was behind the scenes. The changes were not always obvious to consumers or residents. Things like electronic health records and human resource management software simplified paperwork. These back office innovations are important to quality and consistency. They haven’t fundamentally changed the value proposition for, or brand promises to, consumers. If you look beyond the surface finishes, most new senior living communities look remarkably like those built twenty years ago. That’s about to change. Technology will change the consumer experience of aging and expand choices of where and how to age.
We just came back from LeadingAge 2016 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. Our overwhelming conclusion is the senior services industry feels unprepared for the rate of change coming at it. But we also found some nuggets of innovation and insight to share with you.
The Innovator’s Corner: On the Corner of Innovation and Aging
Today, we’re adding a new section we’re calling The Innovator’s Corner. On the corner of innovation and aging. We plan to cover the change leaders and help you select for innovators and avoid laggards. We hope you’re as excited about this new add as we are!
On The Innovator’s Corner, look for new design trends and innovative business models. Look for new products and service offerings. Look for harbingers of things to come! We’ll meet you there!