From the November 1998 issue of Entrepreneur

Boomers, shmoomers. So much attention is paid to the baby boom generation (yes, we plead guilty) that it's all too easy to overlook what is actually the fastest-growing population segment in the country: centenarians.

OK, so Americans 100 years old and older are still relatively few in number. Nonetheless, by 2005, it's projected that this unique population will venture past the 100,000 mark. Even more staggering, that number is projected to grow to 800,000-plus by 2050.

So who exactly are these most senior of citizens? "Centenarians are a diverse group of individuals," says Lynn Peters Adler, founder of the National Centenarian Awareness Project, a Phoenix-based nonprofit organization devoted to promoting centenarians. "They come from all walks of life."

In other words, says Adler, don't make the mistake of assuming all centenarians are one and the same. Just as significantly, don't automatically conclude that vitality is extinguished by age. "There's a growing body of active, interesting centenarians," Adler maintains. "It's a great harbinger for the future."

For the present, however, keep in mind that today's centenarians want respect--and inclusion. "People who are very, very old don't want to be relegated to the sidelines," says Adler, who is also author of Centenarians: The Bonus Years (Health Press). "They want to be involved in the activities of life." And yes, appropriately enough, the omnipresent boomers will only swell the ranks of centenarians in years to come.

Hold That Tigger

Bouncing into stores near you...

It's that time of year again--the time when trend watchers everywhere place their bets on the toy most likely to succeed Tickle Me Elmo as the first-place finisher in what's become an ultracompetitive holiday shopping derby. Our pick for 1998's leading contender? None other than a resident of the Hundred-Acre Wood--only maybe not the one you think.

No offense to Pooh, but the bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy Tigger looks to hop onto center stage in the form of Mattel's Bounce Around Tigger. Timed to coincide with the exuberant one's 70th birthday, Bounce Around Tigger lives up to his name by, well, bouncing on his own. Afterwards, he exclaims, "Bouncin's what Tiggers do best!"

Such a high-profile product promises to get consumers mulling anew over the wonderful thing about Tiggers, which is that Tiggers are wonderful things. With plenty of appeal for kids and adults alike, we look for Tigger's bounce in popularity to extend into next year. After that, who knows? Perhaps an Eeyore revival is in order.

Cherries Jubilee

Ripe for the picking.

Cherry is da bomb. That's what we gather from reports of the growing use of this fruit in everything from alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks to personal care products, salads and (ugh!) hamburgers.

The Cherry Marketing Institute places the average number of cherry items in supermarkets at 35 to 40. Even more intriguing, word is that a certain cherry/almond liqueur combination is the toast of trendy New York City nightclubs.

Want proof that cherries are ripe for the picking? Consider this: The number-one canned pie filling is--you guessed it--cherry.

Flash!

Bag It: John Lennon's artwork will appear on Carter's children's apparel and accessories as early as next summer. Drawn for his youngest son, Sean, the ex-Beatle's illustrations are being licensed through San Francisco-based Sony Signatures . . .

...Buy The Numbers? With so much confusion over area code changes in the country, surely there's a market for products geared toward disgruntled dialers. Say, for instance, this possible T-shirt: "E.T. would phone home... if he only knew the new area code."

Contact Source

National Centenarian Awareness Project, (800) 243-1889, http://www.adlercentenarians.com