The “Graying” of America

August 10, 2020

CensusBureau US Pop Changes by Age Gender Aug2020While marketers seem to continue to focus their efforts on youth, broader population dynamics indicate that targeting products and services to older Americans would be a wise move for many businesses. We at MarketingCharts reviewed 10 years’ worth of Census Data population estimates to uncover the changes in the 2010s, with the analysis revealing what most already know: the growth is in the older age brackets.

Overall, the US population grew by 6.1% from 2010 through 2019, with the male population experiencing a slightly faster rate of growth than the female population (6.3% and 5.9%, respectively). However only one age group below the age of 55 experienced an above-average growth rate during that time period: the 25-34 bracket. Indeed, from 2010 through 2019, the number of individuals in the US ages 25-34 increased by 11.5%, with males of this age group again experiencing faster growth (12.8% vs. 10.2% for females).

Nonetheless, even the growth rate for the 25-34 population lagged that of older age groups. During the 2010s, the number of adults ages 55-64 increased by 15.4%, while the number of adults ages 65-74 shot up by a remarkable 44%. That was more than twice the growth rate of the 75+ population (21.2%), which nonetheless more than tripled the overall population’s rate.

By contrast, the 0-11, 12-17 and 18-24 age groups all experienced slight declines in their numbers, indicating that there will not be an explosion of new youth in the 12-34 brackets in the coming decade. Instead, expect to see a greater number of older adults, as those currently in the 55-64 bracket age into the 65-74 segment and those currently in that bracket transition to the 75+ cohort.

As covered in our recent look into age groups, approximately 1 in every 6 Americans is aged 65 or older (16.5% share), with their share of the population rising. This figure is equivalent to the 18-29-year-old population (16.4% share), though the younger population is declining in its share of the overall US population.

It’s also worth noting that while COVID-19 will surely impact the nation’s finances, prior to the pandemic it was older Americans possessing the lion’s share of the country’s wealth. According to a Packaged Facts report last year, Baby Boomers and Silents combined for three-quarters of US household wealth, with the Baby Boomer generation alone accounting for the majority (54%).

Moreover, data from Epsilon indicates that Baby Boomers are also the biggest spenders: a report released early last year indicated that Baby Boomers (ages 55-75 years old) spend a total of $548.1 billion annually, compared to the $322.5 billion spent by Millennials (25-35). And back in 2012, Nielsen predicted that within 5 years Baby Boomers would control 70% of disposable income.

Given their growing numbers and relative wealth, businesses would do well to adapt accordingly. That means that during the pandemic, for example, businesses should look to make their e-commerce offerings accessible to an audience that may not yet have used this form of buying (bearing in mind that more than one-quarter of US adults ages 65 and older didn’t access the internet as of last year). And companies should pay attention to where older consumers are spending: a new Euromonitor study [download page] indicates that adults ages 60 and older in the US will allocate 1 in every 3 dollars to health goods and medical services. Beyond this category, older adults are expected to increase their spending over time on housing (despite a decrease this year), leisure & recreation, and transport, among others.

Finally, the Euromonitor report also notes that total consumption this year by the 60+ bracket is expected to decrease by just 3% in real terms, a smaller drop than among younger households.

More details from the Euromonitor report are available for download here.


Explore More Articles.

Marketing Charts Logo

Stay on the cutting edge of marketing.

Sign up for our free newsletter.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This