Back to the Future

Are you ready when lightning strikes?

image of time machineWhen Marty McFly hopped into the DeLorean and thrust himself 30 years into the past, it was a landmark moment. Stumbling wide-eyed around the idyllic small town of Hill Valley in 1955, he found himself in a different world, and at the pinnacle of the first wave of Baby Boomer nostalgia.

Times have changed. Now Marty McFly would be an intrepid Gen Zer going back in time to help out his Gen X dad at a Nirvana concert, lost without his iPhone.

What hasn’t changed is that Baby Boomers still dominate the market, and their ideal world is the world that senior housing and active adult developers are tasked with building.

Despite the upheavals of the past year, Boomers are among the least affected financially. Their market is strong. And, they’ve been at home re-evaluating what is important to them for over a year. Like Marty McFly returning to a different and rosier 1985 than the one he left, there is a different and rosier future they are seeing for themselves now.

And they will tell you all about it. All you have to do is ask.

Now is the time to reach out to your marketplace. More than ever, solid consumer research is absolutely essential.

Back to the Future

Remember how Marty McFly got back to his surprisingly rosy future from 1955? He had to power his time machine. And to do that, he had to be in exactly the right place when lightning struck.

Lightning struck in our industry. It struck in the form of a pandemic that turned everything upside down, but for the most part spared Baby Boomers financially.

Developers and operators who see the writing on the wall are making significant changes to their approaches. They’re moving away from rigid health care models and exploring creative options for wellness communities. The wellness and active adult communities of the future will look little like today’s CCRCs – physically, programmatically, and financially.

Just like that lightning strike stopped the clock in Hill Valley while hurtling Marty into the future, the lightning strike of the pandemic stopped the clock on a lot of projects in senior housing, while hurtling us from where we were a year ago toward a reimagined future.

Where is our time machine going? These are the trends.  

From Health Care to Health Freedom: For today’s retirees “health” doesn’t mean an ideal blood pressure score. According to a recent survey from Edward Jones, health means being able to do what they want to do.

Developers and operators are shifting the focus from health care models to comprehensive and sophisticated wellness models. More to the point, they’re downscaling skilled nursing and moving away from the rigid, packaged models of traditional CCRCs, which are based on the inevitability of skilled nursing care. They’re reimagining active adult as communities of wellness that invite different possibilities for the future: possibilities like home health supported by smart home technology, and partnerships with existing health care systems for co-located primary care and some more extensive services “just in case.”

From Buy-In Bound to Rental Freedom: Rental no longer carries the stigma it once did. In fact, for many Boomers rental housing is becoming the preferred model because of the freedom that it brings: freed up assets, freedom from ownership, and freedom from burdensome contracts.

From One-Source Sales to Marketing Freedom: Marketing is no longer confined to the call-talk-tour model. In the past year, it officially made the leap out of the campus and into the fabric of consumers’ lives through virtual selling, highly targeted content advertising, and social media. This creates tremendous freedom for marketing and sales teams to reach and be reached by their markets almost instantly through an ever-increasing number of sources. As we learned during the pandemic, you can reach people quickly and change messaging on a dime. It is freeing, but also complex and part of a bigger marketing picture. (Professional PR is still essential and print ads are more important that you might think.) Making the most of new-found marketing freedom takes knowing your market inside and out so that you can strike with the right message at the right time.

Markets have changed. Marketing has changed. New research is essential.

The trend is toward greater freedom and individual choice and flexibility. What that actually looks like will be different in each market and for each community. Every region – and every person – weathered the pandemic a little differently, with localized nuances in attitudes and preferences.

When the market changes, reliable research is key. Like Marty McFly discovered, the key to getting back to that rosy future isn’t just knowing when the lightening is going to strike. You have to know exactly where, and have the know-how and tools to harness it.

Ready to talk about your community’s future? Contact us here.