Why Anti-Aging Products Are the New Startup Frontier

The anti-aging market is flourishing -- and boomers are both its potential investors and customers.

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By Kevin Xu

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The movement to look -- and feel -- younger continues to be big business, with an endless supply of customers. According to Transparency Market Research, the global anti-aging industry will be worth nearly $200 billion by 2019. The reasons for that growth are clear: All adults have insecurities surrounding aging and thus are potential customers.

Related: 5 Ways New Companies Are Capturing the Growing Senior Market

What truly makes the anti-aging segment exciting is how much room it holds for growth. The reason is that for anti-aging technologies, unlike other categories, the gap between research and application is wide. Anti-aging solutions remain the focus of intensive research, and those eventual findings will create new potential.

Meanwhile, because no universal standard currently exists for these solutions, even the idea of what an anti-aging product is, is up for grabs. But, essentially, what industry observers can agree on is that anti-aging offers savvy entrepreneurs major advantages in both the health and beauty markets.

However, there is a caveat: Entrepreneurs who jump blindly into the anti-aging industry will surely gain a few wrinkles along the way. As in any industry, success takes specialized knowledge, skill and hard work. Here are a few ways to start down the path to creating a successful anti-aging business:

1. Hit the books.

In any business, extra education is a competitive advantage. Special knowledge makes it harder for the competition to enter the market; and it helps entrepreneurs already there to stay on top, because knowing about the latest and best science is a vital part of success in the anti-aging market.

Another tip for success is knowing where the rewards are: I set up the Brighten Award for Entrepreneurial Gerontology at the University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. It honors business students creating products and services aimed at older audiences. Hopefully, this opportunity will spark continued education in the gerontology field by academics and entrepreneurs alike.

Entrepreneurs in this field should also look for lectures and conferences and chances to enhance their education in the anti-aging field. The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine offers a number of fellowships, certifications, symposiums and graduate programs for those wanting to expand their anti-aging knowledge base. Anti-aging technology changes so often that continuously furthering your education is a necessity.

Related: 3 Ways to Encourage Your Employees to Keep Learning

2. Focus your fund-raising efforts.

While members of the younger generations will have some interest in your anti-aging product, baby boomers are your best investment source. People over 50 control 70 percent of the disposable income in the United States and are estimated to spend $52 billion globally each year.

It's no wonder then that the marketing of anti-aging products is on the rise -- so much so that the European modeling agency MOT Models has created a new division called RETRO -- featuring mature models -- tto help more companies attract customers over age 50 and bring in new streams of revenue.

Entrepreneurs in the anti-aging field need to find a need that their product can address, then hit it hard. For instance, anti-aging skin care is a robust market expected to eclipse $11 billion by 2018 in the United States alone. So, narrow in on a specific industry to position your company to benefit financially and become a market trendsetter.

3. Learn the law.

Like anything that touches on medical needs, the anti-aging industry comes with a slew of regulations. Because many consumers are still skeptical about anti-aging products, it's in everyone's best interest that his market not be flooded with ineffective or unsafe products.

Each year, the Food and Drug Administration sends warning letters to companies marketing as cosmetics anti-aging products that are really drugs. The FDA defines a cosmetic as something designed for "cleansing, beautifying and promoting attractiveness or altering appearance," while a drug is something that will "affect the structure or any function of the body."

Understanding the distinction is key. That's why it's important to go through all the necessarary documentation and legislation at the state and federal levels to ensure compliance. This will prevent potential regulatory headaches and provide insight on where the anti-aging industry is headed. When new regulations pop up, opportunities for expansion may not be far behind.

Related: 5 Ways to Effectively Market to Baby Boomers

In sum, the anti-aging market is booming -- thanks to the boomers. For entrepreneurs looking for the next big thing, that next big thing may involve jolting the over-50 crowd with a shot of vitality. So, stay educated, focused and compliant, and your anti-aging product will enjoy a long and healthy shelf life.

Kevin Xu

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

CEO of MEBO International and Skingenix

Kevin Xu is the CEO of MEBO International, a California- and Beijing-based intellectual-property management company specializing in applied health systems. He also leads Skingenix, which specializes in skin organ regeneration and the research and development of botanical drug products.

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