The real ‘new’ generation of India: It’s time for brands to turn attention to senior citizens

In the course of recent years, inclusion of technology in our lives has been remarkable and this has changed the manner in which we get things done.

Aparna Thakker, Founder and CEO, Empowerji

In the course of recent years, inclusion of technology in our lives has been remarkable and this has changed the manner in which we get things done. Today’s technological advancements offer irrefutable convenience and the sooner we acknowledge it, simpler our lives will get. Despite the fact that this change has been more welcomed by the younger generations or the early adopters, senior citizens are making efforts to get adjusted to these progressions and headways. With passing time, the senior populace is discovering new technology and its offering. The seniors are progressively mindful and aware as a customer and they have strong purchasing power which makes them an appealing group for brands and marketers.

Brands perceive younger generation as the major contributor towards the consumer market and to the economy in our country.  However, with the latest technological advancements and evolution of the digital era, the consumer market has changed quite a lot lately. The consumer groups are expanding and so are their needs to consume various products and services. Unlike in the past decades, seniors today are very well read and are aware of the consumer market around them. They understand their needs and are keen on addressing them.

This group is beginning to demand products and services that cater specifically to their needs. The combination of demand and disposable income makes them a potential customer target.
An estimated 150 million Indians are over the age of 60 years. This number is only set to grow and it is expected that by 2050, 20% of our population will be over 60.

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With life expectancy rising, today’s seniors are healthier and fitter than their parents and grandparents at the same age. They say 60 is the new 40! This new breed of silvers forms India’s first batch of independent seniors who want customized products, services and experiences. Most of the seniors who haven’t touched a computer for almost all of their working life, now are happily embracing the advancement and change. There are more than two million active senior citizens on facebook, as it helps reconnect old work/college friends and extended family.

This is not a passive audience, this is a market with their own voice, a large portion that demands its own attention. This ‘new’ generation wants to be heard just like others. They too have their own unique needs that requires tapping. This is a segment that takes time to decide and usually make value conscious decisions, thus increasing the chances of them returning to the brand with better quality of service/product.

The physically fit and mentally agile senior citizens are looking to continue to make contributions to society. Instead of staying homebound like previous generations, the new retirees are looking forward to their second innings. Re-entering the job market is not only to maintain financial independence but also because their wealth of work experience still has so much to offer. A national study by Agewell Foundation ‘Changing Patterns of Income & Expenditure of Older People in India: An Assessment’, found elderly people are quickly spending their savings in old age. One fifth of elderly population took up after retirement jobs, while 60.4% relied on pensions as their main source of income. According to the employment website Times Jobs, there is a sustained year-on-year incremental growth in the number of retirees grabbing a portion of the employment pie. What was 1% in 2016 has increased to 3% in 2018.

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This is making the senior community attractive to employers who prefer them as they do not demand big packages and do not need to be trained from scratch as lower learning curves are always good for business. Technology is often the biggest challenge they face getting back to the workforce. But with the right training, this challenge can be easily overcome.

Currently, the brands involved in offering products and services dedicated to senior citizens in India are at a very nascent stage. However, we can see brands moving towards the seniors as their potential customers, as this segment is only expected to grow in the future, there is an opportunity for businesses to capitalize on it. The brands have realized that need for products, services and experiences to be customized for this growing elderly population.

India is still at the threshold of having its first breed of independent senior citizens who will want to consume such customised services. This new mindset requires the market to offer products and services targeting the elderly. Marching towards a progressive tomorrow, the boom of new age start-ups is giving these elders the attention they need. A set of Indian entrepreneurs are beginning to target this fast-growing market. Their business ideas step from personal experiences as they try to make life better for Seniors. Marketers will need to re-calibrate their processes to reach this target audience using a combination of online and offline methods. This growing target audience has the spending power and is high on the stickiness factor, making it a very attractive target population to focus on.

The author is Founder and CEO, Empowerji. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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First published on: 12-06-2019 at 15:22 IST