Tapping the 50-plus market


By COMMENT
  • Business
  • Saturday, 28 Mar 2009

US$11.3 trillion potential wealth in age bracket across Asia Pacific.

AGING of the world’s population is a global demographic change that is occurring for two reasons – people are living longer and having fewer children.

In the coming 10 years, the population of 50+ will total almost 1 billion people across the Asian Pacific region. In other words, there is an explosion of ageing across Asia Pacific, as never before.

The more developed Asian countries will have more than 35% of their population over 50 years such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong. In Malaysia, by the year 2018, about 20% of our population will be over 50 years of age.

The mature consumers in most of the countries around Asia Pacific have more money, with an estimated wealth of US$11.3 trillion or 35% of total wealth across Asia Pacific. Simply put, the 50+ market provides massive and unique opportunities for new business growth and employment opportunities, both now and for the foreseeable future, not only for Malaysia but across our neighboring countries.

Retirement is supposed to be the best years of a retiree’s life. Retirees want to enjoy quality life. On the other hand, as they age, there is a need to take care of their mental health and physical body. Yet, they are careful with their spending to meet their needs and wants, to allow them to stretch their retirement money for the next 15 to 30 or more of their golden years.

This is because retirees may retire from work but not from life. As long as they are alive, they need to spend money. The fear is, they may out-live their financial reserves.

We need to be mindful that the different stages of the ageing process have different needs and wants and therefore, different types of products and services for the 50+ population.

For example, some are Internet-users, technology savvy and enjoy modern lifestyle. I termed them as “new-aged” retirees who love to pamper themselves with spa and beauty treatments, evening night out for good food and drinks, like to use latest technology gadgets like PDA phone, iPhone, Blackberry, PC and Apple notebook, chat online using Skye and MSN with people around the world, travel with friends for holidays using budget airlines. They know what they want and how to spend their money wisely.

There is another stage of ageing due to deterioration of mental and physical health. Healthcare products and services, retirement homes, assisted nursing and ageing care services are necessary.

Retirement homes are not old folks home but a vibrant retirement community living with residents of common interests who want to live independently from family. It is a lifestyle living of perfect balance between independence and security, company and privacy, relaxation and fun with assisted health and medical care and support system.

Such retirement homes can be attractive not only for the locals but also participants of the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme.

Another area is professional home-care nursing services with trained caregivers to take care of aged people who are bedridden like stroke, mental illness like dementia, Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, diabetic or simply need help because of ageing process (weakening of body, poor hearing, eye sight, memory). These trained caregivers will take care of their food and diet, mobility, exercise, medication, cleaning and bathing in the comfort of own home instead of hospital or old folks home.

These retirement businesses will be viable if we have government support like tax incentives, funding, subsidies, grant, infrastructure, appropriate policies and regulations for business community, non-government organisations and senior consumers to develop this retirement industry; provide financial subsidies and tax incentives to help the retirees and aged people to pay for products and services.

It would also be worthwhile to provide funding and tax incentives to encourage the private sector to carry out a market survey in Malaysia to better understand the full demographic and lifestyle profiling of retirees’ needs and wants like hobbies and interests, social life, sports and healthcare as well as to understand retirees’ social behaviour, attitudes and beliefs, habits and emotional needs.

Carol Yip is a personal financial coach who is founder and CEO of Abacus for Money

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