MetLife Mature Market Institute work is done. It’s been a bad year for losing the stalwart icons of life and thought. Car Talk stopped producing new shows because Tom and Ray had had enough and that means that all those Saturday shows are repeats. Jean Stapleton (Edith Bunker) passed away. Then recently I received a note recently from Dr. John Migliaccio at the MetLife Mature Market Institute: “As of June 1st, 2013 the MetLife Mature Market Institute will cease to produce new research and materials, or have the MMI team available. MMI content will continue to be available for use on the MMI website for a period of time.” This is the MetLife that segmented the ridiculously broad boomer population into younger, middle and older boomers and produced that gut-wrenching report “Buddy Can you Spare a Job?” in 2009 about baby boomers looking for work. MMI sponsored Aging in Place 2.0 in 2010 that looked at the challenges to actually realizing the AARP responder vision of remaining in their home.
Does trend research about older adults matter to other large corporations? I certainly hope that MetLife continues to research internally – oddly they ceased offering Long-term care insurance in 2010 – people might have been living too long and then needing too much care. But just as the Car Talk programs live on (forever? Really, NPR?), but without new material, the core subjects that MetLife tackled and their great reports live on. How about moving them under the name of another with a vested interest in the research results? Perhaps another company will buy up the MetLife assets and start its own mature market research institute? Wouldn’t this be a great opportunity for United Healthcare or Humana – perhaps their Medicare Advantage businesses could include such an institute? Or how about Philips? They have declared that aging well is one of the $32 billion firm's signature vision and initiatives.
Who will fill MetLife’s research gap? It won’t be Pew – take a good look at their topic list and then the frequency of reports about seniors -- it is great material, but frequency is sporadic in the context of their extremely broad mission. It won't be AARP. They seem to be linking to the research of other organizations. Take a look at the 2012 public website page with its one AARP report and the links to MetLife and Miliken. And there is another aspect of that page that prompts questions: "What do boomers want? Find the latest research on the American 50+ population, which reveals important trends among boomers and other age segments." Other age segments? What does that mean? Rand Corporation publishes research – but let's just say that the topic list is, uh, different. And there are companies out there that conduct surveys of older adults for their corporate constituents, but you and I aren’t the customers and thus, sadly, we are not going to read them. The loss of the MetLife Mature Market Institute research is a very sad moment for those of us who build our ideas around consumer data. Let's hope that the baton is passed and caught.