World’s Older Population to Triple by 2050

World’s Older Population to Triple by 2050

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If it seems like your customer base is getting older, it is. The world’s 65-and-older population will triple by mid-century to 1 in 6 people, leaving the U.S. and other nations struggling to support the elderly, according to the AP.

The number of senior citizens has already jumped 23 percent since 2000 to 516 million, according to recently released U.S. census estimates. That is more than double the growth rate for the general population.

The world’s population has been graying for many years due to declining births and medical advances that have extended life spans. As the fastest-growing age group, seniors now comprise just under 8 percent of the world’s 6.8 billion people. But demographers warn the biggest shift is yet to come. They cite a coming wave of retirements from baby boomers and China’s Red Guard generation that will shrink pensions and add to rising health care costs.

In the U.S., residents who are 65 and older currently make up 13 percent of the population, but that will double to 88.5 million by mid-century. In two years, the oldest of the baby boomers will start turning 65. The baby boomer bulge will continue padding the senior population year after year, growing to 1 in 5 U.S. residents by 2030.

Spending Habits Forever Changed?
According to a recent study done by Interpublic Group’s Initiative, the current recession is having a far greater impact on consumer spending habits than previous downturns, and that some behavior patterns, as well as brand perceptions, will be permanently changed.

Although recessions usually create short-term changes in spending, the study claims that consumers this time around are less likely to return to their former shopping habits when good times come back. The study added that three-quarters of consumers have changed their spending habits during the past year, and brand loyalty has suffered, with more consumers researching coupons and promotions on the Internet.

Internet usage was up among respondents in every country surveyed, with the largest increase being for searches for coupons and offers, up 58 percent overall versus a year ago. Big usage gains were also recorded for online researching for general information (up 49 percent), reading consumer content online (up 48 percent) and buying products online (up 48 percent).

“This can actually be viewed as good news,” began New York-based retail analyst, Lauren Sosik. “Consumers are simply thinking and researching more before they buy – the days of the impulse shop are ending. What this does is it enables the retailer to step up and really develop better relationships with their customers. Things like making sure websites are up to speed and seeing to it the in-store experience is memorable have never been more important. This recession has really resulted in people now wanting to feel good about the purchases they make and smart retailers will se to it they do.”

The Initiative research also showed 43 percent of respondents now have far greater trust in online consumer content such as blogs, review sites and forums, while 48 percent said they trusted "expert opinion." Word of mouth among family and friends has always been high, and remains so, with 76 percent of respondents saying they trusted the opinions of those closest to them.

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