Just who are the 50+ Population in the US and what are their unmet needs? - Silver Moonshots
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Just who are the 50+ Population in the US and what are their unmet needs?

Just who are the 50+ Population in the US and what are their unmet needs?

The US census will update this for us late next year, but we know that around 115 million Americans (out of 325 million) are 50 years of age or greater. In fact we know quite a lot about this population, a few facts about which are below:

  1. This population includes 77 million boomers (born 1946-64), compared with 49 million Gen Xers and 82 million millennials.
  2. People 50-plus will continue to grow over the next decade to the tune of 20 million, vs. a growth of only 7 million for the 18-49 population.
  3. 55% of Americans age 50-plus are women.
  4. 75% of this population white/non-Hispanic, 11 percent are African American and 12 percent are Hispanic.
  5. The average number of persons in a 50-plus household is 2.3 (the kids have left, at least for now) but this includes around 25 million who live alone.
  6. The 50+ population has almost $3 trillion in annual income, which accounts for 48% of all after-tax income in the U.S.
  7. 36% of this population have dogs, 24% have cats and 7% own other pets.
  8. 90% of Americans age 50-plus still watch TV weekly.
  9. This 50+ population spendsalmost $250 billion on trips every year.
  10. This population eats out a lot: both sit-down restaurants (80% in the past 30 days) and fast food (85%).
  11. Americans 50-plus enjoy going to professional sports events (30% in the past 12 months), and 20% have attended a live theater event.
  12. Almost 90% of online boomers and seniors use the Internet to research health and wellness information.
  13. 3 out of 4 adults age 50 and older want to stay in their homes and communities as they age.
  14. 95% of Americans age 50 (and older) have heard of ride-share options, but just 30% have ever used it.
  15. 85% of adults 50+ own a mobile phone – About 40% are smartphones and email is the #1 activity.


This list could be much longer but it nicely illustrates two things:

  1. There is massive diversity (demographically and psychographically) in this very large population.
  2. Treating it as one monolithic whole makes no sense for anyone wanting to better understand this population’s unmet or underserved needs and expectations (their tastes and preferences are not only likely to be quite different but in many cases deeply nuanced).

What this all boils down to is that we have to recognize that 115 million people is a giant group of people who will dwell, eat, drink, shop, consume services, play, entertain themselves, communicate, join clubs, own pets, work, volunteer, travel, worship, exercise, invest, read, browse, search and socialize in a huge variety of different ways. Their unmet needs will therefore come down to much smaller ‘tribes’ of people who may have common interests or preferences that might be a narrow enough target to satisfy with a product or service that meets their needs.

And how do we discover these tribes and their ‘pains’ and possible ‘gains’? Quite simply, we talk with them directly and we listen carefully. The more we do this well the better, and the more likely it is that we will find what may be a relatively large community that wants what we have to offer.

Footnote: All of the above data is drawn from US Census data, Pew research reports, AARP data and Immersion active.


Jon Warner is CEO of Silver Moonshots-www.SilverMoonshots.org, a research and mentoring organization for enterprises interested in the 50+ older adult markets. He is also Chapter Ambassador for Aging 2.0 in Los Angeles and Co-chair of the SBSS “Aging in the Future” conference, in Los Angeles.