As some of the global economy’s main drivers, the over-50s are an attractive target market — so much so, they're now grouped in a new market category.

According to the World Bank, average global life expectancy shot up from 65 in the early 1990s to 73 in 2020. The hike in longevity stems from better healthcare, working conditions and nourishment, as well as access to clean water.

The higher life expectancy, which is now 80 years in the EU, 77 in the US, and 76 in Latin America and the Caribbean, brings about several challenges and opportunities for economic development. The “silver economy” is the name given to markets that meet senior citizens’ needs.

Who makes up the silver economy?

“Silver economy” consumers (from "silver" hair) are over the age of 50. According to a European Commission report, if everybody over 50 in the EU were one country, it would be the third largest economy in the world. 

Why do the over-50s have “financial muscle”? Because they have shed economic burdens like raising children, are wiser at managing their financial health and amass savings during their career, they generally have greater purchasing power than young people.

And because they have more free time to enjoy their “second wind”, they are a potent economic driver, seeking tailor-made telecommunications, entertainment, nutrition, automotive, tourism, health and banking products and services.

Three pillars of the silver economy in the future

The same data that show people are living longer also indicate that the silver economy will only grow stronger. 40% of household spending in the EU came from over-50s in 2015, but it’s expected to be 44% by 2025. Three industries are expected to stand out:

  • Technology. Technological innovation, which has transformed society in recent decades, will boost senior citizens’ quality of life in the future due to things like telemedicine, the Internet of Things (IoT), Banking of Things (BoT), self-driving vehicles and smart cities with adapted infrastructure and services.

  • Entertainment. People over 50 tend to have more free time than before. Therefore, cultural activities, leisure facilities and tourist resorts will increasingly tailor to their interests.

  • Training and jobs. The silver economy isn’t only about selling products and services to the over-50s. It’s also about offering them alternative training and job opportunities so they can keep up in an increasingly digital environment. Internet courses, online banking and upskilling and reskilling are some ways to further engage the them.

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