Your next big thing: Growth market – The retirement-ready

Written by Eleanor Beaton

There’s gold in targeting people nearing their golden years. Statistics Canada forecasts the ranks of Canadians aged 55 to 64 will soar 18.8% from 2006 to 2011 — eight times as fast as the rest of the population. By then, their numbers will total 4.4 million. Already they’re loaded: families whose major income recipient was 55 to 64 had a median net worth of $346,000 in 2005, triple that of other adults.

Realtor research suggests this group will fuel housing demand. A Royal LePage survey shows, for example, that 32% of British Columbians 55 to 64 are planning to downsize or upsize. And even those who don’t move will be keen to renovate so they can keep their own homes as long as possible. “They want new products and services to enable them to live more comfortably at home,” says David Cravit, senior vice-president of marketing at The 50Plus Group, a media company for people 50 and up. A firm could do well by offering stylishly designed products such as specialty furniture with grab bars, cabinets with adjustable shelving so you don’t have to squat or stand on a chair to reach things, or chairs with higher seats that are easier to get up from.

The financial-services industry has targeted this age bracket for years. Even so, generational expert David Foot, author of Boom, Bust & Echo, says it’s still underserviced: “Most of the products and services being offered need to be broader to account for things like blended families, collectible automobiles and second homes.”

People 55 to 64, many with aging parents and kids who haven’t yet flown the coop, are looking for but not finding one-stop financial-services shops that can provide legal counsel, investment advice and tax-planning services for the entire family.

A related possibility: “caring for the caregiver” services. Statistics Canada estimates that more than two million Canadians, many of them 55 to 64, are caring for aging parents. Products and services designed to ease the caregiver burden — be they online information directories, housecleaning or sitting services tailored specifically for caregivers — could provide welcome relief.

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