Tapping the 50-plus market
By Carol Yip
Saturday March 28, 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 neighbouring
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
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
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
Carol Yip is a personal financial coach who is founder and CEO of Abacus for