GEN S: Changing consumption patterns
by – Tapan Mishra, Co-founder – Seniority Pvt. Ltd.
Ageing brings a number of challenges that usually include declining physical health, retirement and often the struggle for a proper social stature. Keeping in mind these challenges, the 60+ population requires a system that goes beyond health and safety concerns.
Around 11.5% of the world’s population is above the age of 60 years and this number continues to grow rapidly. As per a report by the United Nations, the number of older persons is expected to reach 2.1 billion by 2050, surpassing the ‘below 15’ population. For a developing economy such as India, the rapid growth of the senior population can be challenging as it corresponds to a significant need for senior-friendly products and resources to ensure their health and safety. Currently, the senior population in India is around 130 million, this number is expected to more than double and reach 300 million by the year 2050.
Dealing with the ageing society
An ageing society definitely means that the social structure of an economy needs to go above and beyond to maintain the safety and health of its senior citizens. A developing country faces enormous pressure on the socio-economic fronts such as healthcare infrastructure, pension outlays, banking and insurance, etc. Therefore, there is a need to plan a physically, socially, economically, and culturally safe environment for seniors.
Often, due to decreased mobility and reduced physical activities, seniors are confined to their homes without caregivers. Moreover, with children often moving out of their hometowns for academics and career, seniors experience the ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’. All these circumstances may cause loneliness, affect the mental health of seniors, and lead to chronic diseases like Dementia and Alzheimer’s. For addressing these issues, it is imperative for a society to have a well-developed support system for their medical needs, provide regular health check-ups, deliver the daily essentials, and provide financial aid or advice.
Seniors living independently
Gone are the days when retirement meant a prudent lifestyle and decreased income, the current Generation S, or Seenagers as we may call them, is far more aware and independent. They are well over 60 years of age, yet possess the characteristics of young teenagers who are excited to explore products and services available for them.
A UN study suggests that India has approximately 17.20% of the elderly population which is living independently. This means that seniors have become more economically independent and are willing to spend more for personal safety, health and leisure. Organizations across industries are setting up dedicated wings to cater to the needs of the elderly, as they realize the lucrative business opportunities that exist within this consumer group.
New opportunities for senior care market
With the change in the contemporary family structures and the ease of access to medical resources, seniors are living a healthier life as compared to the elderly population 10 years ago. This enables them to work for a longer span in their lives and be more open to earning opportunities even after their retirement, forming a large group that is economically independent.
A recent study by CII states that the potential market opportunity for the economically independent urban seniors stands at INR 43,000 crores. This means that the demand for both medical and lifestyle products is increasing rapidly today, though barely 10% of the total opportunity has been addressed so far.
The financially independent Gen S is keen on addressing the issues of ageing. There is increasing demand and scope for both clinical and non-clinical services. Clinical services include medical appointments, pharmacy delivery, lab and diagnostics, medical equipment delivery, mobility devices, medical supplies, etc. Non-clinical services include outsourcing routine household jobs such as housekeeping, home engineering, etc.
The inclination of spending more on lifestyle products has opened the doors for the senior consumer market. There are more senior care services that have come into the picture, such as, independent and assisted living, health and wellness, entertainment, technology, BFSI and other lifestyle services. With more seniors becoming tech-savvy and adopting technology in their everyday lives, it has been an added advantage for e-commerce companies catering to their needs too.
Growing demand for lifestyle goods
In the coming years, the Indian senior care industry is expected to grow rapidly at a rate of 20 per cent annually. Along with the shift in healthcare facilities, senior citizens are more inclined towards fulfilling their needs of a healthy lifestyle. They prefer spending more time watching movies, talking about fashion and investing in consumer goods, skincare products, and day to day nutritional needs. All these factors have enabled seniors to spend more on products that are specifically designed for them. Such needs can be easily fulfilled by senior care industries and e-commerce companies that offer a wide range of products specially crafted for the Gen S – which includes hobby products, safety appliances, bathroom safety, and daily wellness products.
Seniors prefer staying in the comfort of their homes with new innovations and technology. They prefer to keep all the necessary items for their comfort at their home. To ensure proper safety and comfort, it is essential to make the home senior-friendly. Whether seniors are living independently or with caregivers, certain comprehensive homecare solutions can make their lives much simpler. Assisted living facilities, where trained professionals take care of seniors 24×7 also require products and services from the senior care market in order to make their establishments senior-friendly.
Impact of technology on senior care market
The drastic changes in social structure have opened up new avenues for the Gen S using technology. Seniors living independently use WhatsApp video calls and other social media platforms to stay connected with their families. They can now book a cab service for travel and order essential supplies through a smartphone.
Digital technology has magnified social engagement amongst seniors while also enabling them to use promising health care services which are economically beneficial. AI, digital wearables, tracking devices, etc. have made it easier for seniors and their caregivers to manage health at home, without the need of paying massive hospital bills and preventing domestic mishaps as well as delivering necessary aids.
It has become necessary for developing economies to shift their focus towards the senior population and provide them with sufficient resources for leading a healthy life with dignity and inclusion. Senior care markets play a vital role in creating a robust institution to fulfil these growing needs.