Matthew Crabbe
Matthew is Mintel's Regional Trends Director for Asia Pacific. He provides insights and analysis on the latest market developments and consumer trends across the region.

Asian economies and cultures are rapidly changing, as are its consumers. Last week, at Mintel’s first ever Big Conversation Tokyo (27 September 2018), we discussed how brands and companies across Asia are catering to different generations, from teens to seniors.

Here, the Mintel Trends analyst team shines a spotlight on brands and companies already targeting the elderly and discusses the way forward for this key demographic.

A ‘silver’ workforce, Japan

According to data released this year by the Japanese government’s Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, over a fifth of Japan’s population is now 70 years old and above—this is the first time this demographic has crossed the 20 percent mark. Interestingly, a report by Japan’s Cabinet Office in 2017 revealed that almost three-quarters of seniors in Japan say they would like to continue working past retirement age.

Sugi Pharmacy in Aichi Prefecture last year announced that it was offering elderly workers more flexible working conditions as part of a pilot in Nishio and Hekinan, allowing them to set their own schedules. With this in place, elderly workers are able to choose to work whenever they want and also leave if they feel tired.

The Japan Times reported that the salary of these employees is determined by the amount of work completed, rather than the specific hours worked. This initiative was launched with the aim in helping the elderly expand their social circles and inspire a new sense of purpose.

Senior influencers, China

Earlier this year, Taobao (under Alibaba) in China posted a job vacancy online to recruit over-60s influencers, responsible for assessing new products aimed at middle-aged and senior consumers.

The pay packages offered to these senior staff members are said to be higher than the average income in Beijing, which is part of the reason why the company received 1,000 applications in the 24 hours of posting the vacancy.

To be eligible for the role, applicants were expected to have a harmonious relationship with their children, play an influential role in society, and have at least one year of online shopping experience. According to Alibaba, its two new hires will be working on a new version of Taobao, adapting the app to suit the older demographic.

Digitally ready, Singapore

Singapore’s National Library Board announced its plan to launch a suite of digital readiness services targeted at adults and seniors.

The Ministry of Communications and Information will be launching a range of new initiatives that aim to benefit the public, in particular seniors, by teaching them how to interact with digital technology. Such initiatives include experiential learning journeys, which will demonstrate to seniors the ease and comfort of making transactions via mobile phones. Participants will also learn from a basic digital skills curriculum, which offers information on cybersecurity and other online transactions.

According to a report by Channel NewsAsia, despite an increase in internet usage by seniors aged 50 and above between 2012 to 2016, around 60% of Singaporeans aged 60 and above are not yet familiar with the internet. As such, this initiative was launched as part of a wider scheme to address this.

What we think

It is time for brands and companies to stop ignoring the older generation, especially in Asia where this group is continuing to grow. There exists an opportunity to provide more products and services suited to the older consumer, be it through home delivery and online retail, social media and communication, diet and nutrition and even jobs, even if only part-time. What remains important is that brands and companies be sensitive to the needs of Asia’s silver generation.