Marketing & Sales

With Pandemic-Etched Clarity, 55-Plus Americans Crave Purpose

A more sharply-defined priority around purpose now goes along with health, family, and finance as a must for well-being. And that post-pandemic definition makes a difference to builders.

John McManus June 15th, 2021

Scared, chastened, resolved, and introspective during the siege of COVID-19, 55-plus Americans are emerging with a sense of having zeroed in on what matters most to them, and gotten rid of the rest.

What changed?

Importantly, what would residential developers, builders, investors, and their partners need to know about that change, and why it matters in the making and marketing of new homes and communities?

Analysis of new tracking study data, fielded this past Spring among a respondent pool of more than 2,000 adults, almost half of whom are in or nearing retirement, may contain a thread of something worth more of a look.

The study, “The Four Pillars of the New Retirement: What a Difference a Year Makes” conducted by Edward Jones, the large investment and financial services advisory firm, in partnership with Age Wave, a think tank and consulting firm, and The Harris Poll, winds up with three parts common sense and one part "aha!" light-bulb moment.

Health, finance, and family, of course, make sense as three of the four pillars 55-plus-aged folks prioritize above all other desires and preferences. The fourth – purpose, and how they define that – is where the discovery lies, and where builders and developers have the most to learn and avail of.

Chart source: Edward Jones, Age Wave, Harris Poll

Marketwatch correspondent Kerry Hannon spotlights key take-aways of the research here:

Most retirees say that all four pillars—health, family, purpose, and finances—are crucial to optimal well-being in retirement, which makes sense to me. And retirees, when compared with younger Americans, are far more likely to say that “having a sense of purpose” in life is essential to achieve peak well-being (69% vs. 55%).
But surprisingly, at least to me, purpose is sliced and diced in a range of definitions. The one that I think of is not what topped the list. The lion’s share of retirees, 67%, said spending time with loved ones gave them the greatest sense of purpose. Only 40% defined purpose as I do–giving back to others and being generous.
There was no discrepancy when it comes to feeling useful 93% of retirees are all in on this and 87% say being useful helps them to feel youthful. I like that concept.

Purpose, in a historical and typical sense, may once have aligned with goals older Americans have to create a sense of legacy, reputational admiration, a sense of giving back and accomplishment.

But as Marketwatch's Hannon notes, 67% of the study's respondents define purpose quite a bit differently, and this is where 55-plus community builders can derive value:

The lion’s share of retirees, 67%, said spending time with loved ones gave them the greatest sense of purpose. Only 40% defined purpose as I do–giving back to others and being generous.
There was no discrepancy when it comes to feeling useful 93% of retirees are all in on this and 87% say being useful helps them to feel youthful. I like that concept.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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