Birth of New Elderly Consumer Market

By Kim Yi-hwan
Executive Vice Chairman
Korea Advertisers Association

Japan began to show signs of a declining population with a drop in births and deaths in 2006. As Japanese men and women enjoy an average lifespan of 78 and 85, Japan is heading for an aging society in an unprecedented pace. Currently, Japanese senior citizens aged more than 50 account for 40 percent ¡ª the senior citizen consumer market.
If more than 7 percent of a population is aged more than 65, it is called an aging society. If the figure surpasses 14 percent, it is classified into an aged society. Japan had entered an aging society in 1990, and the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom followed suit around 2000. The United States and Australia will turn into an aged society with senior citizens aged more than 65 taking up a 20 percent share in 2050, and Japan, Italy and Spain will do with a 30 percent share.
How about Korea, then? A study by Prof. Park Yoo-sung, of Korea University, showed that the nation will enter an aged society with senior citizens aged more than 65 accounting for 20 percent in 2017 and will become a super aged society in 2024 with a more than 20 percent share. If the birth rate stands still as now, Korea will be a society in which an average 2.32 economically active people have to support one senior citizen ¡ª one of the nations which are turning into an aged and a super aged society.
The debate over the senior citizen market is related not just to an economic theme, but also finding how to lead a life. Senior citizens are both the underprivileged and a new consumer group. Even though relatively, the elderly have time and money to spare. They are more interested in removing misgivings and seeking health and pleasure. Such issues as health, later life, environmental problems, pensions, hospital and medical insurance emerge as the subjects of their concern, so such goods and services designed to protect senior citizens from uncertainties as insurances, financings, pharmaceuticals and workout equipment, domestic and overseas travel, easy-to-use handsets, automobiles for seniors, anti-aging cosmetics, others offering support to gardening and hobbies will likely make up the senior market.
An analysis of senior citizens shows the following characteristics. As senior citizens get older, they tend to feel more uneasy or unstable. First of all, they are getting physically fragile, while worrying about their family¡¯s possible burden for nursing. The elderly cannot be completely free from such economic issues as living costs and pensions.
Senior citizens tend to love hearing such words as looking younger for age, healthy, active, agile, rich with experiences and discerning as well as being called ¡°sir¡± instead of the likes of grandpas and the elderly at department stores and public places.
TV broadcasting needs to give more care for elderly viewers.
If these factors are capitalized in the marketing category, it would bring about effective outcomes. A few tips for establishing marketing strategies for senior people can be summed up. First, the elderly wants to get information on products and services in a select and brief format. It is good to expose simple, easy information massively. Second, they love a reliable brand. Third, they prefer newspapers to TV. Lastly, having an image of the elderly should be avoided. Senior people prefer sir to the elderly, so their integrity should not be damaged.
A look into the Korean senior citizens market indicates aggressive marketing through diverse advertisements. Adverts on silver insurances are an example. Hyundai Marine & Fire¡¯s ¡°Hi-Life¡± advertisement, starring actor Lee Sun-jae and actress Ju Hyun to portray a wonderful life after retirement, has resonated with the elderly. albeit not limited to the elderly, advertisements on pharmaceuticals may be seen.
The senior citizen market is likely to be further widening. It is smart to offer diverse products for senior citizens with an ample time and money to spare and prepare advertising strategies through diverse research.
Now comes an era in which many people survive at age of 80. They have to outlive 20 to 30 more years after retirement. Eighty years can be translated into approximately 30,000 days, which comprise the first stage of children/first half of adolescence for about 7,500 days, the second stage of the first half of adolescence and first half of elderly generation for some 15,000 days, and the third stage of mid- and later- generation for about 7,500 days. Humanities have a heartbeat with a daily frequency of 100,000 times. They lead a while life with a heartbeat of about 3 billion times.
Life may seem like a 30,000 day-long adventure. In this regard, senior citizens in later life cannot be seen as the one on the downside. ¡°Grandma Moses¡± embarked on paining at an advanced age of 70, but became a globally recognized painter. Middle-aged and senior people may lead an adventurous life, so chances are high that they will be a potential market. nw

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