Michael Clinton remembers college finals season like it was just a couple of years ago — because, for him, it was.

In 2021 the author, Roar Forward founder and former president and publishing director of Hearst Magazines, obtained a second master’s degree in nonprofit management and philanthropy from Columbia University. He was 68 years old.

“Remember that dream you used to have, where you didn’t go to class and it was finals time? I was having that dream on a regular basis,” joked Clinton at the Beauty CEO summit.

Clinton is among a growing population of 50-plus consumers who are committed to lifelong learning, experimenting, and, as Gen Z would say — living their best lives. Yet, despite this group’s increasing prevalence and spending power, industries across the board are failing to represent and cater to their lifestyles.

“Many of the people who are entering their 50s, 60s and 70s — they’re challenging everything they were told about the second half of life. They’re starting new careers, lifestyles, relationships — they are at the front lines fighting ageism in the workplace, in advertising, in entertainment and culture,” Clinton said.

In 2022, Clinton founded Roar Forward as a membership and content platform (named after his book, “Roar,”) for consumers ages 50 and up, or as he calls them, “Re-Imagineers.” He said that according to AARP, 35 percent of the U.S. population — roughly 117 million people — are over the age of 50, and that in 2030, the first Millennials will join this group.

“For the first time in history, the 50-plus consumer is going to be the dominant consumer in the major developed countries,” said Clinton, adding that consumers over the age of 55 hold 70 percent of the country’s wealth, or about $92 trillion.

“This market is becoming a new growth market; if marketers aren’t speaking to them in an authentic way that they can connect to, they’re going to miss this whole wave of consumers,” he said, noting that despite its recent strides in inclusivity, the beauty industry is still alienating Baby Boomer and Gen X consumers, among others.

“[The 50-plus consumer] is a huge cohort, but only 5 percent of advertising is targeted toward them,” said Clinton, adding that the rate drops even lower when considering aging consumers of color and other marginalized groups. “It’s about adding in contemporary images of people who are over 50.”

He went on to call the new longevity the “most significant social movement of our lives,” saying that a commitment from companies to understanding the nuances of the 50-plus consumer has the potential to reshape the way business is done, from marketing to retail and beyond.

“Aging is going to affect everyone; I think the stat is that if 25 percent of a group get behind the movement, it takes off,” said Clinton, who will mark his 70th birthday next month by running a marathon in the Himalayas. “Do it — at 50, at 60, at 70 — be that person.”

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