Image credit:
Jonathan Cooper/unsplash
Image credit:
Jonathan Cooper/unsplash
Find the Balance/06/23/2023

Between retirement home and TikTok fame: How "Granfluencers" are shaking up social media

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"Granfluencers" are gathering millions of followers on TikTok and Instagram. Their new trend sports are slow jogging or walking football. As part of the "Find the Balance" series, explains what this means for the sports industry.

Anyone over 20 should start thinking about influencer retirement at TikTok. If you're over 60, the most you can do is leisurely senior sports like Nordic walking. And anyone over 75 is almost certainly already dead, they just haven't noticed it yet. This is how the youth craze has worked for many years. But in a rapidly aging society, the self-confident "New Greys" can no longer be marginalized.

Glamma - the glamorous grandmas

"I'm so old - follow me before I die," 82-year-old recommends "Grandma Ann" to the TikTok community. The users, who could be her grandchildren or great-grandchildren, diligently click (before it is possibly too late). In the meantime, the US-American has collected two million followers and almost 64 million likes with her amusing clips about underwater Zumba or Air Jordan shoes. Ann is one of numerous "glammas" - a mix of "glamour" and "grandma" - who are currently conquering TikTok & Co.

TikTok against age-related stereotypes

"Granfluencer," as the four "Old Gays"who are followed by eleven million users on TikTok (including Rihanna), or like the 68-year-old fashion influencer Lyn Slater, still represent a minority on social media, despite the examples. But the minority is becoming more visible, more vocal, more self-aware. This success, says the journal The Gerontologist in a study, "is critical to challenging the ageist stereotypes that are prevalent among young people."

The US marketing strategist Rahel Marsie-Hazen brings companies together with granfluencers. Partners include the sportswear and nutritional supplement brand Women's Best and the stress-relief device Sensate. The collaborations benefit both the brands and the "silver influencers." Marsie-Hazen explains the growing market to Yahoo this way, "People of all ages crave authenticity, real people they can connect with online." And when they see grandparents living their lives, dating, traveling and dancing, Rahel Marsie-Hazen says, it's inspiring. "The time is simply ripe for seniors who have been largely overlooked."

Granfluencer pension is safe

Granfluencers, such as "up-and-coming senior" Lonni Pike, who is only 57 years old, as the "Gray Hair and Tattoos" showing off her cool tattoos on TikTok for a million followers, can earn tens of thousands of dollars from a single post. The business is running so successfully that "accidental icon" Lyn Slater regrets not retiring sooner: "Today, I make as much in eight hours in some cases as I used to make in an entire year as a teacher."

South Korea: Grey-Pop instead of K-Pop

In South Korea, the triumph of granfluencers is an even greater culture shock than in the West. This is because the country defines itself by its economic successes and by the labor force of its population. Those who retire often lose their social status and are considered worthless to society. Nearly half of pensioners live below the poverty line. The suicide rate among people over 66 is one of the highest in the world. But instead of K-pop, Grey-pop is suddenly booming.

"We are the BTS of 2050," joke the eight members of "Ahjussis," or "K-Uncles," who are Korea's most successful senior influencers with their fashion and sports videos on millions of clicks with their Instagram channel "The New Grey," among others. "The New Grey". When the top-styled retirees around 64-year-old Park Sung-man record their videos in Seoul, clusters of young fans form, filming and shrieking: "You guys are so cool. I saw you on YouTube and TikTok." Social media manager Kwon Jeong Hyun has cast the "Ahjussis," a Korean word for middle-aged men, and trained them like a boy band - only as a "golden boy band," so to speak. In the meantime, the "Ü70-BTS" have created their own elaborate online fashion store for the best business. Popular fashion designer Yong Bum Lee enthuses: "Sales of our brand have quadrupled thanks to the large senior market."

Well aged? The future belongs to senior sports

According to McKinsey, the number of people over 65 worldwide will double to 1.6 billion by 2050. That will then correspond to 16.5 percent of the world's population. And because most of them want to stay active and have a desire to exercise, the potential of sports for older people is also huge for brands and companies. Apple offers in its living room gym Fitness+ already offers special classes for older people. USA Today is testing fitness equipment for seniors - including an under-the-desk bicycle or "gliding discs" that help elders glide across their carpets while protecting their muscles and joints.

Walking Football instead of Nordic Walking

In addition to the classic senior sports such as Nordic walking, hiking, water gymnastics, swimming, dancing or cycling, more and more variety is now coming into play. The trend is toward activities such as

  • Slow Jogging: Leisurely running with small tripping steps is a trend from Japan that is easy on the joints and ensures a healthy running style. Injuries are much less likely to occur.
  • Aqua Zumba: Dance fitness strengthens the muscles through the resistance of the water.
  • Yoga: Yoga knows no age. Special, gentle and less strenuous types of yoga such as hatha yoga, Iyengar yoga or Kundalini yoga are particularly well suited for older people. And Yin Yoga focuses heavily on deeper layers of the body such as fascia, ligaments, tendons and joints.
  • Walking Football: If you still want to go to the soccer field, but don't feel fit enough for leg-high duels, you can try walking soccer. Walking soccer originated in England, does not involve running or physical contact, and is still supposed to be a lot of fun. Since running is prohibited in walking football, active players must demonstrate versatility. In addition, the coordination, which decreases with age, is promoted and even improved.

"Fitness in old age is becoming a massive trend. Today, 70 is the new 50," says Austrian expert and studio operator Gottfried Wurpes, who has already equipped numerous retirement homes with his equipment. He predicts: "I am sure that fitness will shift massively upwards in old age. Because no one wants to grow old sick. An acquaintance of mine is 67 and cycles uphill as if he were a moped. No one would look at his true age."

Marc Rohde is a coach and founder of the Hamburg-based fitness consultancy Elbsprint Urban Sports. He sees the best future prospects for the fitness clubs he works with in the Best Ager sector: "This group will continue to grow over the next 20 to 30 years and, with its financial possibilities, is a very interesting and lucrative target group. And this audience is quite prepared to pay a little more for an appropriate service at eye level."

Rohde summarizes the advantages of the growing 50+ target group as follows:

  • It leaves an above-average amount of money in the studio if the right offers are available for it.
  • It provides for a family atmosphere.
  • She takes responsibility.
  • She is a reliable contributor.
  • She acts as a "living advertising measure" and brings family members, friends and acquaintances.
  • She is the most loyal customerif she is properly cared for.

But in order to do golden business with Silver Agers, service providers and also brands still have a lot of work ahead of them, says expert Marc Rohde: "These customers are looking for qualified personnel who can respond adequately, who speak their language, and who respect and offer the manners of this generation."

Backlog of products

And there is also a lot of catching up to do in terms of products, see Apple Watch & Co. "Heart health is the focus from the age of 50," says Rohde, "so watches with heart rate measurement are actually the perfect product for older people. The only problem is that most of these watches have such small signs that older people have to put on glasses when exercising. There's still a lot of work to be done there."

But if the conditions are right, if the industry adapts to this promising target group, the "Silver Society" will soon be worth its weight in gold for the sports and fitness industry, and "spry instead of rusty" will become a megatrend.

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