Women are the lifestyle leaders inventing the future of retirement. For a variety of reasons, women are generally better at aging than men. They are more dynamic, take on more roles and duties, and are more clear-sighted in regard to the new frontier of longevity—and they also live longer. As I write in my new book, The Longevity Economy, when it comes to older age and innovation, the future is female.
At the same time, there are certain retirement challenges which women will have to contend with in an era of longevity that their counterparts may have the privilege of avoiding. As a mixed sort of celebration of International Women’s Day, here are three retirement realities for women (and for the companies that serve them):
Women Are The Chief Consumer Officers
Despite being more than half of the population, women are not always looked to by firms trying to understand market demands or how money will be spent in retirement. Women are the biggest players in the longevity economy, and their power as consumers remains largely overlooked. Their influence comes from the fact that they make choices not only for themselves, but often for a child, spouse or parent. They are most likely to be the chief consumer officer of the household. 80% of healthcare decisions are made by women; 54% of online purchases are made by women; in the technology sphere, women are still a few percentage points behind, at 46%, but are gaining ground fast.
When companies attempt to cater to females, they often wind up doing ridiculous things for which they have to apologize shortly afterward. Abysmal ideas like the “For Her” pen, the “Femme” tablet, and recent rumblings of a lady-friendly corn chip makes one wonder if companies think that women are a different (and seemingly helpless) species.
Even when they are not doing the buying themselves, women might be the most influential force behind a purchasing decisions. 54% of automobiles are bought by men; but 80% of automobile purchases are influenced by women. It is not only ethically imperative for businesses to take seriously the preferences and needs of women; it is also a smart business move. The role of chief consumer officer that women hold across the lifespan makes them particularly attuned to the everyday costs of living in retirement—small costs that can add up to a big financial load in the long-run.