Tailoring your services for the over 50s

With the over 50 demographic driving unprecedented growth in the wellness industry, Diane Trieste explains how to tailor your services to their needs.

Today, we’re on an upswing of some critical life-changing habits. Massages, facials, mani-cures, fitness classes, yoga and meditation are no longer luxury choices for the rich. Men and women are now actively pursuing these services for self-care as part of their daily life, and resorts, destination retreats and cruise ships can’t exist without these offerings. 

Everywhere we look we see motivations for self-care; it’s now an essential, not an indulgence. Yet, self-care marketers tend to focus on younger consumers, overlooking a lucrative and ready segment that could help them grow – the midlife woman. 

Women in this client group are more educated, active and affluent than ever before, and the segment is getter larger. The US Census Bureau predicted a 72% population increase in adults aged 50-plus between 2000 and 2020, and when it comes to consumer trends, this group’s per capita spending is 2.5 times the national average – higher than any other group per household. 

Plus, because women live longer, the population is set to skew to become increasingly female, so it’s time for spas, health clubs and travel providers to give midlife women the attention and support they deserve. Here’s what you need to know about attracting midlife women into your spa in comparison to the other big client group, millennials. 

The rise of the zoomers

We know that health and wellness are priceless for motivated millennials who are investing in expensive classes and services, which helps their overall mental state and wellbeing, but older women are ready to invest more vigorously too – if given the right motivation to attract their attention.

Some from the baby boomer generation (those born within the post-World War II years, 1946–1964) have now emerged into a new category, “zoomer”, and it’s an important development. Being a zoomer has less to do with the year you were born and everything to do with how you feel and approach life as you age. 

Zoomers understand the difference between ageing that occurs naturally due to genetic background and the unnecessary or early ageing that occurs because of an unhealthy lifestyle. 

Compared to baby boomers, they are proactive about their health and monitor it consistently for inherited problems such as cancer or heart disease, taking daily measures to remain strong through exercise, nutrition, diet and weight management.

The longevity economy is a factor that’s currently creating new health, wellness and sustainable living trends, and the growing over-50 group has already sparked a transformation in products and services. 

It’s not a passing phenomenon either – longer life spans will result in a consistently large over-50 population, even after the baby boomer and zoomer wave has crested. It’s a $7 trillion dollar-plus market, and within this, the global wellness tourism segment makes up more than $3.7tn dollars. The spa industry needs to continue to tap into this ever-expanding segment. 

Midlife women are travellers who want to be active and maintain their current lifestyle choices on holiday. They also want to learn and experience how to enhance their health and wellness while taking a well-deserved holiday, so that’s what you must provide. 

We all know that holidays are a necessity, but it used to be that clients needed another break after their vacation to get back on the “right” path – to re-establish fitness routines after lounging around and eating and drinking while on holiday. No more. Wellness is now a core part of travel, so make it a core part of your spa offering for guests. 

The millennial difference 

Experiences that enhance wellbeing are vital for women of all ages – so you need options for zoomers as well as for those at the other end of the spectrum, millennials. These experiences can be used for self-transformation as well as a change of attitude towards health and connection to the environment, both in the direct wellness or tourism setting, as well as in a wider context of living a healthy lifestyle. 

It’s no surprise millennials (born roughly between 1981 and 1995) are driving growth in health and wellness. They grew up in a time of rapid change and so their priorities and expectations are sharply different from those of previous generations. 

According to the Harris Group, 72% of millennials (also known as generation Y) would rather spend money on experiences than on material goods, and that preference is forcing retailers to adapt as more people from this group ascend into adulthood and increase their spending power. 

For example, a 2016 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report found that millennials prefer specialised classes like cross-training, pilates and yoga, as opposed to generation X (which followed baby boomers but precede millennials) who are perfectly fine on the elliptical. 

For millennials, wellness is a daily, active pursuit, and one they are willing to spend on. Many of them bring fitness into everyday life visibly by wearing athleisure apparel for all kinds of activities other than working out. 

They also enthusiastically track their fitness training and sleep data through apps, so see how you can tie this in with your offering. Research firm Forrester discovered that millennials and generation Z (the generation after millennials) combined now account for 69% of all wearable fitness device owners.

Attracting the midlife travellers 

It seems the convergence of beauty and well-ness has created a new aesthetic of beauty that has nothing to do with shape, size or age. It’s about looking, feeling and doing good, no matter the group you fall within. 

That’s one reason why Blue World Voyages, the new wellness cruise line I’m part of which is launching in May 2019 (pictured below), is developing an offer for conscious consumers who like to travel but want to stay active, relax, rejuvenate and eat wisely. 

Wellness travellers fall into two main categories, according to the 2013 Global Wellness Tourism Economy report: 

Primary wellness tourists: where wellness is the sole purpose or motivating factor for the trip or destination choice, accounting for 13% of wellness tourism trips and 16% of expenditures. 

Secondary wellness tourists: who seek to maintain their wellness or participate in wellness experiences while taking any kind of trip. They account for the significant majority of wellness tourism trips (87%) and expenditures (84%). 

We want our active lifestyle cruising to fill the needs of this midlife market, creating an intimate setting for only 350 passengers, allowing like-minded people to view the world, maintain their daily activity level, and learn more to support their health and wellness. 

We’ve partnered with some of the top wellness providers, including Gaiam and Yoga Journal for yoga and meditation programmes onboard ship and ashore. We’ve also introduced wellness practices, healing and recovery services, a variety of nutritional programmes and other experiences that are beneficial. 

In designing wellness programmes for midlife women, your philosophy should be to support them, helping these clients understand self-care, how to make the best choices to improve or maintain their muscle tone, skin health and endurance; and every aspect of looking and feeling ageless. 

The more we as professionals can inform, engage and enlighten, the better the results will be for everyone.

Diane Trieste

Diane Trieste is vice president of wellness for Blue World Voyages, which is launching wellness cruises in spring 2019. Trieste has worked in the wellness and hospitality industries for 25 years. Previous roles include director of spa and product development at Canyon Ranch Health Resorts and member of the executive team at Cortiva Education.