What Senior Housing Can Learn from Ford Motor Co.

2013 Ford Escape

Buying a car and buying a house might be two distinctly different purchases, but retirement giant Del-Webb and Ford Motor Company find they actually have quite a lot in common. 

Industry data compiled by Ford and Del-Webb, a developer of retirement communities, show a correlation among the consumer preferences of baby boomers in terms of what they’re looking for in a vehicle and a place to live.


Boomers, who have once embraced the affluent lifestyle of owning large homes and spacious vehicles, have now reached a turning point in their consumer preferences, according to Sheryl Connelly, global consumer trends and futurist for Ford.

“This generation is now trending toward a simpler way of living, one that doesn’t eliminate the lavish comforts they’ve come to enjoy,” Connelly said in a statement. “The boomer population has always set the trends and now they’ve set a course for a more streamlined life that doesn’t sacrifice style and comfort.”

While home sizes have historically been increasing since the 1960s, from an average of 860-square-feet to 2,505-square-feet in 2012, boomers have been starting to shy away from bigger homes into “cozier homes with top-of-the-line” amenities, according to Del Webb. 


The developer, that builds primarily active adult communities for the age 55 and older cohort, found that 28% of people between the ages 55-59 prefer to downsize with their next home purchase.

“Boomers may be downsizing, but they have worked for a long time, and they don’t want to compromise on high-end features,” said Steve Burch, vice president of strategic marketing for Del Webb, in a statement.

Data from Ford show that boomers are making similar decisions with regard to what type of vehicle they want to buy.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based car manufacturer finds that more boomers are moving away from the SUV and minivan segments they “dominated” during the 1980s and 1990s, nowadays moving into smaller, “car-based utility vehicles” that come with premium packages and styling. 

“Trendy baby boomers may want to downsize their homes and their vehicles, but they’re not willing to give up on premium content in either case,” said Amy Marentic, marketing manager for Ford Motor Group.

Of all the vehicles offered by Ford, the Ford Escape is outpacing the industry in key population segments, including every age demographic above 55 years old, the company stated in a release.

Year-over-year, the Escape is experiencing 24% retail growth, and is particularly reporting strong sales in four cities in particular, which may also appeal to baby boomers as potential retirement destinations: Miami (53%), Orlando (34%), Phoenix (27%) and Charlotte, North Carolina (26%), Ford reports. 

Written by Jason Oliva

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