Hacking Longevity: Illuminating 5 Big Life Shifts

Life events often shape who we are, how we behave, and what we decide. This research will dive deep into the five of these profound life-changing events


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A 2018 collaborative project, “Hacking Longevity,” led by the AARP, provided the first three-generational perspective on the aging journey.
It identified discreet “Life Shifts” during which people face abrupt and profound life changes. This new study, recently released, takes a deep and strategic look at how organizations can better serve and connect with those in the midst of these five Life Shifts:

• Caregiving
• Aging Single
• Grandparenting
• Career Encoring
• Changing Living Situation


  • Paint rich portraits of people in the midst of one the five following Life Shifts: Caregiving, Aging Single, Grandparenting, Career Encoring, Changing Living Situation, based on the framework of health, wealth and self
  • Identify key generational differences in these Life Shifts among Xers, Boomers, and Silents
  • Provide a future-focused look on how these Life Shifts will meaningfully evolve


A 2018 collaborative project, “Hacking Longevity,” provided the first three-generational perspective on the aging journey. It answered key questions and raised new ones, while identifying discreet “Life Shifts” during which people face abrupt and profound life changes.

This new large-scale project, “Decoding Aging: 5 Key Life Shifts,” is designed to inspire ideas and guide decision making for organizations when it comes to:

• New product innovation

• Communicating with and serving consumers in the midst of each of these 5 key Life Shifts

• Assuring your brand’s relevance and affinity during these times of great life change

Methodology: Qualitative/Quantitative

Design Rationale:

To dig deeper into the quantitative findings and to paint a rich portrait, we will conduct a robust qualitative phase after a preliminary review of the quantitative data.

Xers, Boomer and Silent respondents will participate in a range of exercises and discussion on the Aha! Platform to uncover the varying emotions, as well as the rational decision-making, that accompanies each of these Life Shifts among all three of the generational cohorts.


Mix of direct questioning/discussion and projective exercises over a 5-day period, leveraging the Aha! qualitative platform

• Individual probing, including ability for clients to login and “tag” individual respondents
• Video diary output to be edited as part of the final deliverable

Qualitative Design

Qualitative Research Target

Gender: 50% Male, 50% Female

Ethnicity: Approximates national population distribution

Ages: 45 to 100

Additional Demographic Screening:

Respondents were screened to be currently experiencing or have recently experienced one of the five studied Life Shifts:

• 20 respondents among each of these Shifts: Living Single, Grandparenting, Career Encoring

• 30 respondents each for Caregiving and Changing in Living Situation (note: each of these two groups were bolstered by 10 Silents – specifically 10 primary caregivers to their spouse/partner and 10 residents of senior-living communities)

Geography: US Only; Approximates national population distribution

Quantitative Design

Number of Interviews: 3000

Interview Length: 30 minutes

Sample Source:

Dynata (formerly Research Now/SSI) has more than 11 million panelists in 40+ countries, is an industry-leading panel provider, and a trusted partner to RTi

Quantitative Research Target

Gender: 50% Male, 50% Female

Ethnicity: Approximates national population distribution

Ages: 45 to 100

Behavioral/Lifestyle Screening:

Additional profiling of the Life Shift groups provided by:

• Behavioral Tracking: Prior to the quantitative survey, a sub-sample of respondents (n-500) download an app that allowed their online behavior to be passively tracked for 30 days, providing data on the degree to which and where they search and learn about support services and products to help them as they navigate their Life Shift. Types of information that collected: websites and apps used/amount of time spent/time of day/device used.

• Behavioral Data Appends: Leveraged in order to provide a more detailed picture of those individuals who are in the midst of these Life Shifts. Appends included: Modeled credit score, voter history, self-reported ailments, and financial life-stage information.

• NOTE: The behavioral data have been analyzed and integrated with the survey data and qualitative learnings into the final report, enhancing the quantitative findings by more comprehensively profiling the five Life Shift groups (their needs and pain points, how best to communicate with them, where to reach them, etc.)

Additional Demographic Screening:

n=2,000; Spread across each generational cohort: Xers (ages 45-54), Boomers (ages 55-73), Silents (ages 74+)

2,000 respondents screened to assess membership in one or more of the 5 Life Shift groups, providing sizing for each of these groups within the general population. Those who qualify answer detailed questions regarding a single Life Shift. Minimum of 300 evaluations per Life Shift group.

Geography: US Only; Approximates national population distribution


Deliverable Overview:

• In-depth report, covering quantitative findings, behavioral profiling, and qualitative insights

• Strategic eBook, conveying key insights that stage for the full story of each of the five Life Shifts

• Art-directed by Pangborn Design

• Access to the “Hacking Life Shifts” portal on the KnowledgeHound data-visualization platform

• Five professionally edited videos (one for each of the Life Shift groups)

• Presentation: In-person or via video conference

• Activation session by Lori Bitter, president of the Business of Aging (optional)

Reporting: Formal Report; Topline Report

Additional Deliverables:

Integrating all phases of research through story-based deliverables, including professionally edited videos and a c-level readout of key findings via an eBook to foster broad acceptance and internalization of data, insights, and recommendations

Single combined in-depth report, covering quant, behavioral profiling, and qual:

• Strategic executive summary telling the story of each of the five Life Shifts
• Professionally art-directed detailed report

Five shareable professionally edited videos, one for each of the five Life Shift groups

Data file with quant findings

All data accessible on the visualization-platform, Knowledgehound; free training session is provided

Opportunity for immersion, activation, and thought-leadership events with additional investment. For more information, discuss with the Collaborata team.

Travel expenses not included; billed separately at cost

Timing: Available Immediately


Company: RTi and The Business of Aging

Previous Projects: 4


Supplier's Qualifications:

At RTi RESEARCH, we turn data into meaning, something that can be communicated simply and acted upon effectively. For nearly 40 years, we’ve been bringing the customer voice to the corporate decision-making process through our wide range of quantitative and qualitative marketing research services and methods. What’s different today are the technologies that allow us to gather and mine enormous amounts of data and the resulting struggle to figure out what it all means. Navigating this starts with understanding when to leverage new, innovative data collection and analytic technologies, techniques and methods, or when a traditional approach is best; and culminates in finding meaning in all that data and sharing it through innovative storytelling. Turning data into meaning is how we support our clients’ success.

THE BUSINESS OF AGING helps businesses and organizations advance their goals, while advocating for and serving the mature market. Lori Bitter, President, is a well-known, well-respected expert. She is the author of "The Grandparent Economy" and was recently named as one of “The Top 50 Influencers in Aging” by Next Avenue.

Supplier's Team:

Lori Bitter, The Business of Aging
Lisa Cooper, Senior Vice President, RTi
Howard Firestone, Vice President Marketing Sciences , RTi
David Intrator, Chief Meaning Officer, RTi


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