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    The needs of a sizeable senior population can throw up plenty of opportunities for marketers: Euro RSCG study

    Synopsis

    Some interesting facts that the study throws up suggest that Indian sexagenarians and beyond are quite old-school compared to their global counterparts.

    The needs of a sizeable senior population can throw up plenty of opportunities for marketers: Euro RSCG study
    By 2013, India will have a population of 100 million 60-plus according to the union health ministry. In a country of 1.2 billion people where at least half of the population is under 25, you can’t blame marketers for obsessively crafting strategies to engage with the youth.

    But 100 million — which is roughly a third of the population of the US and almost 40 million more than that of the UK — is no figure to sneeze at, either.

    A recent study done by Euro RSCG, titled ‘Aging: Moving Beyond Youth Culture’ looks at the various aspects of growing old across the globe.

    Done through an online survey of 7,213 adults in 19 countries like Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, India, Ireland, South Africa, UK and US among others — it discovered that as the average life expectancy increases (it’s now 67 globally, with a high of nearly 83 in Japan), perceptions of aging and what it means to be old are changing. And so are the notions of how — and when — people want their lives to end.

    Whilst this study may be more relevant for countries with an ageing population — think Japan, Germany, Italy and Greece — the sheer size of that base back home makes it germane for social scientists and marketers back home, too.

    Some interesting facts that the study throws up suggest that Indian sexagenarians and beyond are quite old-school compared to their global counterparts who, for instance, don’t mind going under the knife to stay young or popping a pill to keep those wrinkles away.

    However, an interesting contradiction is when Indians say they will do anything and everything to stay youthful and younger (33%) as compared to just 23% foreigners who are as desperate to keep old age away.



    For marketers, the study throws up some fascinating food for thought. Are they doing enough to provide products and services intended to slow the aging process, minimize physical and cognitive declines, maximize self-sufficiency and mobility, and make the retirement years safer and more satisfying? In India, we still don’t know.

     

    Marten Pieters, MD & CEO, Vodafone India, reckons that technology can open a lot of doors for older people to be independent and connected. “Technology allows a service to be delivered to your door step as against having to go out and get it. Services like healthcare and cleaning are some areas where technology can make lives easier for older people,” says Pieters.

    Social scientist Shiv Visvanathan says when catering to this segment of the population, brand equity is less important than “brand justice.” “If you say there’s a market for old age it denigrates old age.

    Having said that, old age has particular health problems — problems of longevity, problems of psychological survival,” explains Visvanathan.

    Yamaha is one example of a company following a counter-intuitive strategy to target markets that appear largely ignored.

    Known more for its stylish and power-packed motorbikes, India Yamaha Motor is ramping up scooter production with an eye on two segments of the population that are relatively untargeted: women, and older people.

    Says Jun Nakata, director, sales & marketing, India Yamaha Motor: “Our immediate focus is on women and in the next couple of years we will have something for the older population.”



    The Euro RSCG study essentially tries to identify the points at which people exit the youth bracket with questions like at what age does middle age and old age begin. The answers differ from country to country, and will be different from person to person.

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