With the number of "Golden Agers" expected to increase dramatically in the years to come, A Elizabeth Sloan, PhD, explores ways to focus on this ever-growing group.
Golden Agers represent a goldmine of opportunities for the dietary supplement and functional food industries. In 2008, over one-third of the U.S. population, or 98 million adults, will be age 50 or older; 107 million by 2015.1? With those aged 55-64 projected to grow another 35 per cent by 2015 and seniors 65+ 26 per cent, the time to focus on older consumers is now (Figure 1).
They Mean Business
Seniors aged 65-74 — followed by those 75+ and older Boomers 55-64 — are the most likely to use dietary supplements, condition-specific and multi-formula products, and to take supplements more than once a day, according to ?Simmons Market Research Bureau (SMRB).2
Despite increasing health issues, older adults remain nearly three times more focused on prevention than treatment, reports GfK Roper3 (correct as is with small and mixed cases). Three-quarters of Boomers (75 per cent) and 71 per cent of those 60+ say prevention is a regular part of their lifestyle; 22 per cent and 24 per cent respectively include treatment. SMRB2 reports 40 per cent of those 55+ frequently take preventive medicines and think supplements should be taken for their long-term benefits. ?
Seniors 65-74, followed by those 45-54, are the most likely to prefer natural remedies to standard medical practices per SMRB.2 And, while those 55+ always look for the most advanced medications available, they're the least likely to think that over-the-counter (OTC) medications are safer than prescription (Rx) drugs. Seniors 75+, followed by those 65-74, are the most likely to say they'll pay anything when it concerns their health. ?
With those over age 60 taking three times more medications on average than younger adults4 — 84 per cent 65+ take at least one Rx drug; 62 per cent of those 45-645?— concern for drug/supplement interactions will reach an all-time high. And, as older adults look for supplements that complement their medications, physician and pharmacist recommendations will come back into vogue.
Older adults will also be looking for supplements to alleviate drug side effects such as leg cramps and/or liver protective products. Information Resources Inc.'s (IRI) IRI RxPulse™ projects that heart medications will continue to dominate Rx drug transactions for those 65+, followed by water retention, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thyroid disease and arthritis.6
As 31 million Americans turn 65 over the next 10 years, the demand for condition-specific products will explode. IRI's MedProfiler 6 reports that six in 10 aged 65+ suffer from arthritis, half from high cholesterol, one-third from osteoporosis and one in five from diabetes (Figure 2). ?Eye and gastrointestinal (GI) problems posted the largest gains over the past two years among self-reported conditions afflicting those 50+; heart disease and cancer top the list of conditions about which they're very/extremely concerned according to HealthFocus7 (Figure 3).
With 55 per cent of those 50+, or 44 million people, already suffering from low bone mass and 52 million by 2010 — and the market shifting toward post-menopausal women who are at greater risk of fractures — products that strengthen bones and prevent full-scale osteoporosis will be in high demand.9 In 2005, 46 million women were post-menopausal; 11 million menopausal.10 A male bone health market is also fast approaching: 12 million men have low bone mass.
With half of seniors and 43 per cent of older Boomers having high cholesterol — and half of Boomers, two-thirds of women and 75 per cent of men 65-74 having high blood pressure — multiple heart risk reduction products will be a must.11?
Likewise, ingredients that help prevent "sudden death," such as omega-3s; ?address the increased coronary risks faced by post-menopausal women; reduce LDLs in older women who are less likely to have them under control than men; ?and help meet AHA's challenge to reduce stroke/heart attacks in African Americans and other ethnic groups, will be in high demand.
Moreover, as Boomers age 45+ confront a greater risk of heart attack and stroke, ingredients that increase circulation and prevent dangerous clots, such as cocoa flavanols, which also increase blood flow to the brain, will find a welcome market. Sloan Trends12TrendSense™ model reports that flavanols, stroke, heart /inflammation and C-reactive protein have all reached mass market status. PL Thomas &; Co.'s MenaQ7, with natural vitamin K, significantly inhibits accumulation of calcium in the arteries.? Loma Linda University research indicates that those who eat almonds 5 times a week cut their heart attack risk by 50 per cent.
Digestive problems including heart burn increase with age. About one-quarter of those 50+ self report GI problems, up 8 per cent in the last two years among older Boomers; 5 per cent for seniors 65+, reports HealthFocus.8 IRI6 projects that GI liquids/tablets including laxatives and heart burn remedies will enjoy increased sales as Boomers age (Figure 4). ?Sloan Trends TrendSense™ model reports that the timing is perfect for launching prebiotic products into the natural/health food channels and for very health conscious shoppers; timing to the mass market is still about 1 to 1 1/2 years away12 (Figure 5).
With 16 million Americans over age 70 and 11 million age 80, other digestive conditions including diverticular disease, gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome and gallbladder issues will move into the spotlight.13 Sales of powdered digestive aids/enzymes increased 26.9 per cent in mass channels for the Y/E 12/30/06; up 17.1 per cent in natural venues.14?
Those 65+ account for 40 per cent of the diabetic population.15? Those 50+ who are very/extremely concerned about diabetes rose 9 per cent in the past two years8. Sloan Trends' TrendSense™ model reports that blood sugar and insulin resistance have become strong Level 1 mass markets.12 With 58 per cent of type 2 diabetics having at least one other serious health problem, 15 per cent 3+ and 13 per cent 4+, multi-functional products for diabetics will be right on target.16
IRI17 reports that diabetics also have an indulgent side, posting above average consumption of cookies and frozen novelties.
Over age 75 eye problems including macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma become more prominent. Dementia and significant memory problems including Alzheimer's also increase and muscle strength at age 85 is about half that at 25. Lung deficiency also decreases around age 65 and at age 70 are less effective at detoxifying. Calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B-12 deficiencies are of particular concern.18
Nearly nine in 10 (88 per cent) aged 55+ say they're active and on-the- go.19 ?ACNielsen20 found that 60 per cent of global consumers see 60s as the new "middle age." Only 17 per cent of older Boomers (55-64) and 22 per cent of those 65-74 are in fair/poor health or to have chronic conditions affecting their mobility reports HHS/CDC.8?
Those 50+ are the fastest growing exercise segment. HealthFocus7reports that they exercise at almost the same rate as those 18-24. They're also the most likely to make sure they exercise regularly.21 The National Sporting Goods Association22 reports that walking is their most popular sport; weightlifting the fastest growing.
While older adults index among the lowest21 for use of thirst quencher/activity drinks, liquid nutritional supplements, energy drinks and energy/diet/snack bars, they're as likely to select foods for energy as those 18-29 explains HealthFocus7. With 40 per cent of older Boomers and 34 per cent of those 65+ self reporting a lack of energy/tiredness, vitality beverages are a very big idea.
Boomers are nearly twice as likely as the rest of the population to be overweight and to be currently trying to lose weight according to Harris Interactive23(Figure 6). Nearly two-thirds of Boomers (65 per cent) vs. half (54 per cent) of non-boomers are trying to lose weight. The HHS/CDC reports that two in five adults 55-64 are obese; half are overweight.8?
Boomers are also more likely to restrict their diet to lose weight (59 per cent vs. 46 per cent non-Boomers), to eat less, to go on a low calorie diet or formal diet plan than the rest of the population according to Harris.23 As a result, portion control and high satiety products are potentially well suited for older audiences.
Health-driven dieting is another untapped segment. SMRB24 reports that of those watching their weight, 38 per cent are doing so for health reasons including hypertension, cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes. ?Age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia), which also causes a decline in metabolic rate and calorie-burning with age, is another fast emerging market. High protein beverages will be an important factor in stemming muscle loss.
Sleep problems also increase with age and with the degree of overweight. Nearly half (47 per cent) of Boomers and 56 per cent of those 60+ pay a lot of attention to getting enough sleep reports GfK Roper3 (Figure 7) . With growing concern over allergic reactions and even driving when using Rx sleep aids, the market is shifting to natural solutions. Two-thirds of overweight people have trouble sleeping, 54 per cent use sleep aids vs. 19 per cent of normal weight.25
Half of those 50-64 are very concerned about lack of mental sharpness, vs. 43 per cent of total population. Contrary to popular believe, concern about depression is highest among those 18-24 according to HealthFocus.7
The vision category is also thriving as older consumers undergo vision changes, turn to contact lenses, and cope with night vision issues and dry eyes. Dry mouth (xerostomia) and ear infections are other nuisances associated with aging that are getting more attention.?
Root cavities and periodontal disease, with strong ties to inadequate vitamin C and calcium — are other fast accelerating issues. Nearly one in five (19 per cent) — 23 per cent aged 65-74 — have at least one sight with 6 mm or greater gum detachment; about one-third 65+ have dentures.26
Lastly, contrary to popular belief, those 50+ are no more concerned about a weak or stressed immune system than other age group, frequent colds/flu, or allergies8. ?Packaged Facts27 reports that older women are also less concerned about wrinkles than those in their 30s and 40s.
Matures (60+) are the population group most likely to say they're diet is healthy enough, having already made dietary changes for health according to FMI.28 Those 40—58 were the least satisfied with their eating habits, weight, and health and are the most likely to be making healthy changes in their diets29 (Figure 8).
Older adults are the most likely to be on a special diet. IRI30 reports that of ?those 65+, 38 per cent were on a low fat diet in 2006, 34 per cent low-salt, 28 per cent low-sugar, and 26 per cent high-fiber; of those 55-64, the respective figures were 31 per cent, 24 per cent, 23 per cent, and 19 per cent (Figure 9).
Whole grains top the list of healthy ingredients older consumers are trying to include in their diet followed by dietary fiber, protein, calcium and antioxidants, e.g. vitamin C and E. according to HealthFocus.7 Trans fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar and sodium are the most likely to be avoided. Of those age 65+, 46 per cent have decreased their use of sugar, 45 per cent salt, 39 per cent foods with additives, 39 per cent snacks and 36 per cent beverages with sugar; For those 55-64, the numbers are 50 per cent, 43 per cent, 43 per cent, 45 per cent and 42 per cent respectively. ?Six in 10 older adults are avoiding trans fats
Healthy convenience meals for one and two are another explosive market as Empty Nesters—married couples with no children at home — continue to gain share as the largest U.S. household unit, accounting for 32 per cent of all U. S. households by 2010, followed by those living alone (27 per cent).1 Raised on the "Basic 4" concept, not surprisingly, Balanced Nutrition is a very important dinner food selection factor for 60 per cent of those 65+ and 54 per cent of those 52-64; including a vegetable is essential for 60 per cent and 52 per cent, respectively.31
Those 55+ are the number one dessert eaters in the population creating an unprecedented market for healthy treats. They're the least likely to snack except on healthy items.? Fresh fruit, nuts, dried fruit, trail mix, raw veggies, crackers, popcorn, and cheese top their list of "healthy" snacks.32 However, they're the least likely to use nutrition bars, reports SMRB.21
In summary, ironically, use of functional foods/beverages declines with age, although when they use them, older consumers tend to use them more regularly. Mintel33 reports that 73 per cent of those 65+ did not purchase a functional food/beverage in the last 3 months (Nov. 2006) vs. 53 per cent of those 18-24. However, those 55+ drank more than 30 servings of functional beverages in the past month, twice the population average. Heart-healthy cereals and spreads are the most purchased functional categories by older adults.? Claims that they already have a healthy diet/lifestyle; took supplements or prescription medications instead; or got what the needed from conventional foods are the major barriers that functional food marketers will need to overcome to capture this lucrative market.
1. Census. 2005. Current Population Reports. U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, D.C. www.census.gov.
2. SMRB, 2006. Fall 2006 Experian Simmons National Consumer Studies. Simmons Market Research Bureau, New York. NY. www.smrb.com. Published in Packaged Facts' Nutritional Supplements in the U.S., Nov. 2006. Packaged Facts, NYC, NY. www.packagedfacts.com.
3. GfK Roper, 2007. Health &; Well-Being. GfK Roper Reports? Monthly Client Teleconference. Thursday, April 26, 2007. GfK Roper, New York, NY. www.gfkamerica.com.
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10. NAMS, 2007 North American Menopause Society, Mayfield Heights, Ohio.www.menopause.org.
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13. NIDDK, 2005. Digestive Disease Statistics. Nat'l Inst. Of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Bethesda, MD. www.niddk.nih.gov.
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15. ADA, 2007. American Diabetes Assn. Information for Health Professionals. www.diabetes.org.
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20. ACNielsen. 2007. Health, Beauty &; Personal Grooming. March. Schramburg, Il. www.ACNielsen.com.
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22. NSGA, 2007. National Sporting Goods Association. Statistics and Information. National Sporting Goods Assn. North Palm Beach Fl. www.nsga.org.
23. Harris Interactive, 2007. Healthy Living among Boomers. Harris Interactive. May 31, 2007 Webinar. www.harrisinteractive.com ?
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25. Anon., 2006. Sleep Aids Find a Ready Audience. Chain Drug Review 29(17:57, 61.
26. HHS, 2000. Oral Health in America: a Report of the Surgeon General. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, www.nidr.nih.gov/sgr/execsumm.htm
27. Packaged Facts, 2007. Cosmeceuticals in the U.S., April. Packaged Facts, New York, NY. www.packagedfacts.com.
28. FMI, 2006. Shopping for Health. Food Marketing Institute, Crystal City, VA. www.fmi.org.
29. Technomic. 2007d. Generational marketing: dancing to different tunes. Am. Express Market Brief, April, pp.3-5.?
30. IRI. 2006. 55+: The new "must win" market. Times &; Trends, June. Information Resources, Inc., Chicago. www.infores.com.
31. MSI. 2005. Gallup 2005 Study of Home Meal Replacement. Multi-Sponsor Surveys, Inc., Princeton, NJ. www.multisponsor.com.
32. Mintel. 2006b. Healthy snacks U.S. March. Mintel International. Chicago, Il. www.mintel.com.
33. Mintel, 2006. Functional Food and Beverages. Nov. 2006. Mintel International Chicago, IL. www.mintel.org.