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A View From Inside (Part Two): The Booming Business Sector

Susan Donley July 23, 2018
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Stria readers see real opportunity in market-based solutions, but want to assure businesses work from an understanding of the realities of aging.

In June 2018, Stria News fielded our first formal reader survey to learn how professionals in the longevity market feel about our collective future. (For an overview of findings, see Part One of this series.) When it comes to the businesses sector, respondents seem to agree that the longevity market is beginning to take meaningful shape.

A Market on the Rise
Stria readers believe that the business of longevity is poised for growth and represents an opportunity for real profit.

“The space has finally arrived as a ‘market.’ It is being recognized as a segment by investors. It has an ecosystem of players and types of companies that make sense. Several very early players in the space have made successful exits.”

“The Longevity Economy has THE most robust money making possibilities since the dot com boom. I’ve always said if you want a BIG opportunity find a BIG problem, this is both. Further, the upside is we all can do good while we’re doing well like no other time in history.”

“Huge market + Underserved = Opportunity”

Further indication that longevity market professionals are bullish about market-based solutions was their view of the potential of technology in our field. Second only to optimism about partnerships, the ability to leverage technology garnered an overwhelmingly positive response: 56 percent were very or extremely optimistic.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
But as any superhero will tell you (or Voltaire, if you’re not a Spidey fan), an opportunity this big doesn’t come without obligations. Survey participants noted the need for businesses to assure the market responds to the complex realities of older people and their caregivers. We still have work to do in guiding the development of new products and services toward solutions that marry innovation, understanding and compassion.

“Figuring out how to align resources with values are probably the biggest hurdle. Also really understanding the aging population.”

“I hope it is handled intelligently because I do not want to see the effort devolve into anti-aging products and propaganda. It needs to be inclusive from the beginning– inclusive in the ways we usually think about inclusion (e.g., race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic position) and also inclusive in terms of people who have dementia and other chronic conditions.”

“Growth is guaranteed, but a professional approach to funding and nurturing innovation is lacking.”

“Demand will grow significantly, but customers’ ability to pay may not keep up with cost increases. Workforce challenges could be a huge drain.”

It’s little surprise that survey respondents offered a nuanced perspective on the market because Stria readers are among the most experienced thought leaders in aging. Over 40 percent of respondent have worked in the field for over a decade—with 23 percent bringing 20+ years of aging industry experience.

Innovation and Capitol Haven’t Peaked
The areas where longevity professionals are more ambivalent were around innovation and capital. Most respondents were only somewhat optimistic about the speed of innovation in our field (44 percent), and a full half said they were only somewhat optimistic about the availability of capital and funding.

Still, there was sense of inevitability from Stria readers: “Markets eventually evolve to the demands of consumers. While this evolution is still fragmented, the influence of longevity market consumer is seen in housing, tech, healthcare etc. Natural and smart selection will define those who profit from paying attention.”

 

This survey is the precursor to our first annual “State of the Longevity Market” survey coming later this year. The 80 participants primarily represented nonprofits, associations and community organizations (32%); consultants and agencies (28%), and businesses and start-ups (22%). The remaining respondents work in government, academia, media and foundations. Be sure to sign up for our free weekly email to participate future surveys and see all of Stria’s latest headlines.

MORE FROM ON THE FUTRE OF THE FIELD

We asked each of longevity business experts for their perspective on the future of the longevity market. Here’s what we learned from Mary Furlong and David Inns.

Susan Donley

Susan Donley is Publisher and CEO of Stria. She is dedicated to improving the lives of older people through powerful media and communications. Previously Susan served as Publisher and Managing Director of PBS's Next Avenue.

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