Retire has become ‘refire’ as many of today’s 60-somethings, the Boomers, create lively communities and are not only changing the rules of the game, but the game itself.
The retirement landscape is changing, and it has a great deal to do with a generation that shies away from the concept of ‘silver seniors’, ‘golden-years’ and anything that smacks of their parent’s attitudes and expectations. This Boomer generation, who are now in their 60s, are focused on being active, engaged, form part of a lively community and value having a ‘sense of purpose.’
Ken Dychtwald and Robert Morrison’s newly published book What Retirees Want paints a picture of a generation that has every intention of remaining physically and mentally active, may start a new business and that looks for adventure. The authors coin the phrase ‘time affluence’ but suggest that these retirees have no intention of wasting it for a moment. They’re looking for ‘peak experiences’ and ways to maintain their health and fitness. They place the family at the apex of life satisfaction and believe that a sense of purpose will contribute to their happiness. Giving back is big.
Ryk Neethling, marketing director and shareholder of Val de Vie Estate in the Paarl-Franschhoek valley, believes that the success of the Val de Vie Evergreen village, reflects this new trend. ‘We’ve just sold out the first 100 homes in phase one of The Village. But there has been a marked escalation of sales recently – 20 in the past few weeks alone – that indicate that an established micro-community, is a tremendous drawcard.’
While the rules to entry for buying a home here require residents to be an age-appropriate 60 plus, there’s another drawcard. They immediately become part of a greater family-orientated estate.
Elaine and Ray Cory say they were drawn initially to the village concept because of the country style living and the security. ‘But what we really loved was that young and old are integrated here.’ Val de Vie Evergreen is in the heart of the almost 1000-hectare estate, and it is not unusual for adult children and grandchildren to live within walking distance of retired parents. Or meet them at for an active outing. ‘We walk, cycle, swim, use the restaurants, deli, and the new plant nursery,’ says Elaine. ‘The winery is also a social hub.’
Rien and Irene Velvis who came to South Africa from Holland in 2011 and bought a house at the estate, simply changed neighbourhoods in 2017 to downscale to Val de Vie Evergreen and prepare for when they may need more support in the future. ‘We were in our Evergreen home for three days and had already met half the street. We got a bottle of welcome bubbly from one set of neighbours and a breakfast delivery from the other.’ And they are active. ‘We start every morning with a long walk,’ says Rien, ‘go to the gym twice a week, swim indoors in winter and use the Olympic-sized outdoor pool in summer. Being Dutch, we ride our bikes to the Deli or restaurants.’
The bottom line is that ageism is simply bad for business. Life expectancy rates have doubled since 1900 and still rising. Aiming your marketing in the youth sector, is frankly, short-sighted – and exclusionary. Val de Vie Estate resident Ray Mc Callum trains vigorously and for his 70th birthday, completed a double Robben Island crossing. ‘The estate’s sporting facilities – from 42 km of mountain biking tracks to a 50m outdoor pool – are aimed at anyone who’s fit and healthy,’ says Neethling.
One may need to choose one’s words carefully when marketing to the 60-somethings. What modern retirees want is fewer ‘senior’, ‘geriatric’ and ‘blue-rinse brigade’ labels and more ‘third-agers’. Be prepared to make space in the fast lane.
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