I saw a really fun video today that made me think for the first time that living in a retirement community (or "active adult" community, as they're more frequently called), might not be so bad after all. The video showed residents of Monarch Landing, an Erickson community outside Chicago. They were having the time of their lives competing in bowling tournaments. The kicker was not one ever picked up a ball.
That's right - these residents were doing virtual bowling using the Wii, a video game system made by Nintendo. In case you haven't seen it, Wii is similar to a TV remote control that you hold in your hand. The console is connected to your TV and you can select any number of sports, from bowling to tennis to golf, you name it. You play the game virtually by swinging the Wii control as you watch the sport on TV... and the bigger the screen the better.
Anyway, these folks were really getting into this game! What a great way to use a product that was built for and marketed to teenagers. What's more, it's another way for folks to bond with younger generations, especially grandchildren. That's the kind of cool grandmother I want to be. (So, Katy and Sydney - pay attention here - you're always wondering what to buy me for Christmas!)
Things like Wii tournaments are a great example of how Boomers will retire differently from their parents. First of all, most of us expect to work a lot longer, thinking 62 is as good an age to start a career as stop one. That's why a lot of Boomers say they still want to have an office in their home, so it's easier to transition back and forth between leisure, volunteerism and working part-time.
What's more, Boomers expect their future communities to offer many of the same amenities younger people want: hiking trails, gyms, pools, concierge services, pet-friendly policies and locations convenient to shopping and medical services. Several studies show that the younger the Boomer, the more likely s/he is to want an entirely new home in retirement. Many Boomers intend to upgrade their existing home or at least stick close to where they live now.
Although I don't remember now where I read it, I saw a piece recently about how Boomers even eschew the typical "Grandma and Grandpa" nicknames. Many want to be called by their first names and one nickname rising in popularity for men is Grand-dude.
Since the average age of a first-time grandparent is now 48, it would behoove marketers to pay close attention to the messages they send regarding retired Boomers and especially Boomer grandparents. For instance, if you want us to buy pain reliever, show us bringing on the pain through vigorous sporting activities, not arthritis.
And while you're at it, consider sponsoring a Wii tournament or something similar, rather than a bridge or bingo tournament!