Updated: Apr 11
Welcome to “A Healthusiasm World”, a newsletter by Christophe Jauquet on making customers healthy & happy.
Discover how both healthcare and consumer companies are experience-driven health businesses now.
Learn what's next for customer experience, purpose-driven marketing, and digital health.
Be inspired to design the most engaging health experiences yourself.
As my business grows older, new opportunities become more mature. In the past years, I’ve learned that my keynotes shine a light on the underexposed sides of a business context. The research I conduct for clients brings inspiration and insights into the changing context they are operating in. Analysing the changing behaviours, trends and innovations help companies in making future-proof decisions. Because there isn’t always a ‘stage opportunity’ to bring those stories, I was often asked to do research and analysis in preparation for strategic meetings. And now, you can request this too.
So, thank you for allowing me to shamelessly share this here with you: Want to have your changing business context analysed? Ask me how now. Book a moment via the link below.
Life is what it is. We are born and reach the peak of our ability. After that, our performance declines as we get older. Humans are likely the only species aware of that fate. There are many signals. Grey hair, body composition and wrinkles are a testament to the changes. We observe these when looking at our (grand)parents and are confronted ourselves by young-making filters on social media. Often, much of the dislike of many.
I don’t want to look old.
In a time and age where we increasingly have an impact on our health, it remains hard to accept the process of ageing. At the very least, we don’t want to age like our (grand)parents. Today, you’ll see older people walking around in the same sneakers, going to the same restaurants, having the same smartphone, and engaging in similar leisure activities as the thirty-something. People did not want to look poor 150 years ago. Now people don’t want to look old. One of the motivations here is to fight the biases of ageing. Because yes, ageism is undeniably a problem in the world. In fact, half of the world’s population is ageist against older people, according to the World Health Organisation. It is no wonder it sparked a trend of Agelessness Ageing: “I will be old later”.
People spend billions of euros to look more youthful. The desire to look younger spurred a humongous anti-ageing industry. There are many books, supplements, videos, courses and Instagram accounts available that provide support in fighting the signs of age. Then there are the weight loss clinics, personal coaches, nutritional advisors, and other health gurus that guide their clients in preserving youth. Anti-ageing creams and make-up cover up some of the marks of time. It is even possible to shave a decade or two off the age we look with cosmetic treatment or surgery.
I don’t want to be old
We all want to 'get old', but do we really want to be old? We are like death for the loss of function, frailty, or deterioration of “what was”. It makes ageing an increasingly important focus within the medical and pharmaceutical industries. Clinical trials targeting ‘ageing’ doubled between 2012 and 2018. Companies like GSK, Novartis, Celgene and Abbvie have been invested in this domain for many years. But many young companies are targeting the market of longevity as well. In fact, the amount of investment in longevity start-ups grew 16-fold in that same period.
Meanwhile, different methods are being studied, from older pharmaceuticals like Metformin and Rapamycin (bragging note: I’ve worked on both products) to a newer class of medication called senolytics that have shown to prolong the lives of mice. Specific dietary supplements, targeted exercises, and measured methods for caloric restrictions have also become a focus in the longevity race. But more futuristic-sounding solutions are on the horizon as well. Think about receiving blood plasma from younger individuals, using printed organs or medicines generated from stem cells.
Longevity start-ups have increasingly been newsworthy recently. There is the story about BioSplice, which is already valued at a staggering 11,6 billion dollars today, making up more than 20% of the anti-ageing and longevity industry. There is a recent story about pharma company Abbvie investing yet another (!!) 1 Billion euro in Google’s Calico Life Science. There are the various stories about famous billionaire investors in longevity start-ups, like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Peter Thiel, Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Disney, and many more. And finally, there is the story about the C-suite of Altos Labs that assembles the very, very most prominent names in life sciences: from top pharmaceutical leaders (e.g. GSK & Genentech) and Nobel laureates, to genius CRISPR pioneers and renowned healthtech founders (e.g. GRAIL, Juno therapeutics). Longevity redefined “big” in the start-up world.
*I hope I grow old enough to see it unfolding, or do I?*
But you can sense it already, right? All of this comes with lots of controversies. We already inhabit an overpopulated world increasingly characterised by social inequalities and polarisation. Should we solve ageing instead of poverty, war, famine, or drug addiction? What about the increase in social inequalities between those who can or can’t afford to live longer? And won’t stances pro or anti-ageing widen societal polarisation even more? Not to mention the difficulties in funding the longer lives of already retired people. It feels morally dubious to invest in Agelessness Ageing, but it will happen. One can certainly expect it to fuel the debate on ethics versus capital. And it will touch your business sooner than later. Because yes, ageing touches every business: finance, real estate, consumer tech, food, beauty products, communities, clothing, cities,… Agelessness Ageing will come for you. So what will be your stake in it?
I don’t want to feel old
Although many scientists are fully convinced that ageing will be solved earlier than most diseases, regulatory bodies (like the Food and Drug Administration) don’t consider ageing a disease (yet). In other words, it is not yet possible to file a drug that targets ageing. Regardless, we are not yet close to being able to rejuvenate people. Understanding the processes of how we age on a physiological level is incredibly complex. But the good news here is that the progress made will help understand the biological consequences of ageing: age-related diseases.
Over half of seniors aged +65 live with two or more long-term health conditions, called multimorbidity. Although many diseases are typically “clustered” together, each disease is treated by separate specialists in a particular care pathway with disease-specific medication. Medical research, drug discovery, and healthcare systems were mainly oriented per disease. This made it hard to understand the correlations within those clustered diseases.
On the other hand, the longevity industry targets to understand the biological causes of ageing (to reverse it). In doing so, it is indeed starting to understand the underlying causes of these clusters of diseases, which, in turn, will make the prevention of these diseases feasible. Understanding how we age will make ageing healthier. In the short run, we can expect the Longevity industry to be adding healthspan, not life span. After all, there's no point in letting people live to be 140 when they feel like they're 140 years old.
People don’t mind being old as long as they don’t feel old. Therefore, the Agelessness Aging trend is not about anti-ageing (yet). Today, it’s about ageing well rather than living longer. It’s also about managing one’s age more holistically rather than masking it. The beauty industry was one of the first to embrace this trend. Many beauty products (e.g. Pause, Arbonne, Mylene) rebranded from anti-ageing to well-ageing. This may sound like a cheap marketing trick. But the underlying drivers are a healthy consciousness and a conscious Healthusiasm about growing older. And that is something every company should learn from.
The Healthusiasm Take
Life is what it is. Or is it anymore? The way people view ageing is changing as people are living longer and stronger. Yes, we grow older and greyer. Yes, some wrinkles characterise our faces. Yes, there might be some frailty or loss of function. But ageing is no longer just about masking it. Ageing is also no longer just a stepping stone towards death. We want to ‘get old’. But we don’t want to feel old. Ageing is about living well or ageing well in this case. And we are bound to see this Agelessness Aging trend flourish in the next couple of years. It will impact almost every industry. How will the travel industry change its offer? What will real estate provide to feed this trend? Can the car industry mean something here? And how will pharma communicate to this growing group? These are vital questions that might require answers relatively soon.
This Agelessness Aging trend also ties back to two other trends. First, there is the Dying Well trend that explains how people aspire to die well and mourn well. Then there is also the Aspiration Moderation trend which says that self-actualisation is not just about improvements but also about prevention, acceptance and enjoyment. Suppose we would apply this latter trend to Agelessness Aging. In that case, you can frame it as follows: People may still aspire to (1) prevent their health from becoming worse, but they also aspire to (2) accept, (3) enjoy and, where possible, (4) grow ‘their health’ while getting older. The beauty industry understood this very well and altered the entire anti-ageing strategy. The question is: how will you adapt your strategy and communication?
Wanna work on this together? Feel free to reach out.
Stay young people,
Keynote speaker on making customers healthy and happy