Active Retirement

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Just two decades ago, when work-weary sixtysomethings bid farewell to the corporate jungle, they took their pensions and headed off to retirement villas for the predictable rounds of golf. But a funny thing happened on the way to Shady Pines.

Retirees began to realize that there's more to their golden years than the 7 a.m. tee time or shuffleboard every Wednesday. Gradually, over the past decade, their focus began to shift, from passive to active retirement. These seniors began a collective march into classrooms, charitable organizations, and exotic tours that combined travel with learning. Some even headed back into business.

Retirees' idea of life after 65 has changed. But, even today, society's idea of retirement hasn't kept up, as Associate Editor John Fetto points out in our exclusive survey ("The Old and the Restless," p. 10). Americans' attitudes towards the elderly still fit the traditional stereotypes. Yet, as Associate Editor Rebecca Gardyn reports in this month's cover story ("Retirement Redefined," p. 51), today's seniors have the desire and ability to stay active, but are left on their own to find the structural support to do so. Organized programs and policies that invite older adults to participate in anything productive beyond a life of golf and sunshine are next to nil for the over 60 crowd, Gardyn writes.

Marketers who aren't hip to this new model retiree are in for a rude awakening. By 2030, 20 percent of the U.S. population, or 70 million people, will be over 65. And, as Associate Editor David J. Lipke writes, older consumers are no longer as brand-loyal as their predecessors ("Pledge of Allegiance," p. 40).

All this spells an incredible opportunity for marketers, as the nation's 78 million Baby Boomers begin their reluctant march into seniordom. As Contributing Editor Joan Raymond points out, Boomers have already transformed the elder-care market by seeking out new types of facilities for their parents. Now, they're about to go shopping for themselves. ("Beyond the Nursing Home," p. 58).

We've devoted a large chunk of this issue to aging and retirement. But we have no intention of growing old or stale ourselves. In our continuing quest to provide you, our readers, with insightful and in-depth information on the factors that drive consumer behavior, we've introduced three new sections beginning with this issue.

The first, called Pulse, replaces Voter 2000, which finished its election-year run this month. Pulse is an offspring of Voter 2000, and will continue to provide you with a peek into Americans' opinions on public policy. In the back-of-the-book, we introduce Futurespeak, a Q&A with futurists who can provide you with "big picture ideas" to consider as you develop your respective marketing plans. And, lastly, as a service to readers who write to us in search of specific statistics, we're introducing Reader Request. Every month, we'll pick one of the dozens of requests for statistics we get and hunt down the answers.

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