Elderly population in India is turning into the new customer segment that is large and distinctive with significant purchasing power
Today there is an urgent need to address the wellness of present day Elders, officially designated Senior Citizens, that encompass their physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual needs by looking at them from an entirely new perspective because of their sheer increasing numbers in absolute terms in the demographic divide that now make them an extremely vital segment of the community that require to be reckoned with. One report puts it – “In India, the senior living sector with strength of over 100 million is poised for a significant growth in the years to come.”
Mr. Harish Bhat, MD&CEO of Tata Global Beverages and author of Tata Log: Eight Modern Stories from a Timeless Institutions writing in the Brand Line column of the Hindu Business Line calls upon the marketers to include the Elderly Population of India as the “new customer segment that is large and distinctive with significant purchasing power”. He writes their population increasing, they are also willing to spend reasonable amounts of money on their essential requirements, in many cases their children, who earn good money are also willing to contribute. They have a distinct set of needs – as they may suffer from weak eyesight or infirm hands that are unable to work with small buttons or phone or remote controls with small keys, slippery bar soaps, wrist watches. He suggests easy to use uncomplicated mobiles with large fonts. Also, banks and reality need to develop products to cater to this segment. Besides there is also a significant proportion of this segment who are naturally either obese and of large build or unusually tall or with large waists, wrists and feet who search for ‘jeans that can make them look slimmer’, bathroom slippers that they can easily slip their feet into, cars and airline seats that they can be comfortable in. They even have specific needs of foods and beverages at variance from others.
The FMCG sector too has now come to recognize the fact that the Elders too have truly arrived as a new class of discerning customers:
- • The elders are found to wield potential brand loyalty and buying power as they have a lot of time to study to decide and weigh the pros and cons of products on offer. Seniors are extremely choosy customers with extremely strong brand loyalties built over the years.
- • They are generous consumers who generally tend to continue to stick to their favourite time tested brands all along and are less likely to change brands irrespective of any tempting marketing offers.
- • They are certainly wiser and consequently more rational in making right choices. They are less likely to be influenced by misleading ads and trends.
A recent Research Survey of 1,900 elders from 12 cities in India reveals:
- Demographical estimates with the average life expectancy crossing 70, with more population living longer than ever before. Their numbers are expected touch 198m in 2030 from 118m by 2016 from 98m today where they constitute nearly 7.5% of India’s population and 12.4 % in 2016.
- According to the 2011 census 8.3% was 60+ up from 7.4% in 2011.
- 70% consider moving out of towns into homes of their own.
- 42% ranked security as the top concern.
- 80% seek to sustain their current lifestyle or even improve upon it since they do not contemplate full retirement per se.
- 75% want to continue to be active in community activities, to walk and exercise, socialise, club, party, yoga, sports, shop around, indulge in writing, skype, surfing internet to keep in touch with relations and friends from all over the world.
- 30% live alone without pre-deceased spouses; with off-springs staying outside even abroad and are in single independent houses cut off from immediate contact with the society outside.
- 80-90% prefers to continue to work gainfully or for a cause.
- Their pre-retirement earnings have grown more than 20% over the last two decades.
- With increasing income streams either from their own savings/ investments or remittances from children abroad they now seek a hassle-free secure retired life.
- 60% live in nuclear families according to a National Family Health Survey.
Many reality operators have now zeroed on the seniors to satisfy the growing demand for Senior Care Communities where the lifestyles, socio-economic and healthcare requirements are well taken care of. The developers have jumped into the bandwagon to take a piece of the burgeoning cake of the Assisted Living Community Projects.
- • Customised colonies for senior citizens provide options of living safely and in lifestyle-oriented homes catering to their special needs to live on their own terms with easy access to facilities and services essential for day-to-day living. They bring together like-minded people in the same age-group, essentially elders with similar interests and economic status. They address serious concerns in view of increased elder-targeted urban crimes, difficulties in getting good domestic help and unsafe commuting.
- • Proactive Elder Healthcare with well-being when beset with reducing vision, hearing loss, physical flexibility and muscle disabilities require productive living in the midst of holistic surroundings too has moved far away from the traditional conservative Old peoples’ home concept when they were left behind by their uncaring children to fend for themselves can now lead a post retirement life with dignity in the company of peers sans the stigma attached to old-age homes
- • The present lot of elders are certainly healthier as well as wealthier and many have $ rich off springs remitting funds home too.
- • The developers now go out of the way to address the concerns of security, management of the household by providing reliable services of domestic staff too.
- • After ascertaining the specific requirements of this age group that arise out of social isolation, loneliness and lack of activity or active engagement with the outside world absence of which leading to declining in mental health has lead developers like Paranjapes, Gagan Nulife, Tatas, Max India and others to launch specially Assisted Community Living Reality projects - seven in Bengaluru, three each in Chennai and Pune, two each in Kochi, Goa and Kolkatta and one each in Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bhopal, Jaipur, Delhi, Nagpur and Chandigarh tailored to make life easier for the resident elders by incorporating elder-centric facilities like :
• Step-free/ ramped access all throughout the community buildings - larger doorways, wider approaches, no-step entries, larger living areas facilitating free manoeuvrability for wheel chairs and walkers.
• 24-hour low glare lighting and/or standby gensets or 100% power back up.
• 24x7 Security, Emergency/panic alarm call buttons/cords.
• Anti-skid floors more particularly in wet areas.
• Grab-bars in bathrooms.
• Low height shelves and sliding doors and windows.
• Internet and wi-fi connectivity.
• Libraries, Reading Rooms, club houses with hobby facilities, bridge, rummy and chess, cafes, restaurants, spas, theatres, yoga and prayer halls, common green open spaces.
• Care takers'/servants' quarters.
• 24x7 in-house/ on-call medical and primary healthcare facilities, ambulance and door delivery of drugs. Speciality and nursing care, physio-therapy, primary health care and regular check ups. Tie-up with a nearest fully equipped multi-specialty hospital with ICU, trauma care and ambulance on call.
• Concierge, daily house keeping, laundry, round-the-clock food and dining, ATM services.
• Shuttle with driver to the nearest metro.
• Expense break up - 30% food, 25% healthcare, 20% housekeeping, 10% social life and 10% others
Elder-related activities also help create local labour-intensive gainful employment opportunities in housekeeping, administration, security, nursing and geriatric and health care for the men and women of all ages nearer their homes without their having to migrate to cities in search of jobs and stay in hovel and pavements.
FMCGs are now drawing up various options to target this so far long neglected target coming to hold that there is gold in the old!
(Inputs from the Hindu Business Line, India Today and Times of India.)
(Nagesh Kini is a Mumbai-based chartered accountant turned activist