From a scale perspective it is high time that companies commit to this segment and invest heavily as most products specifically created for this segment are prohibitively expensive
New Delhi: With significant spending power and growing demand for variety of products/services, brands across categories are gradually focusing on the senior citizen consumer cohort. Often called boomers (above 60 years), this segment is largely ignored by marketers who obsess with millennials or GenZ.
Technology and services firms such as WhatsApp and PhonePe, and telecom firm Vodafone Idea (Vi) have started targeting senior citizens in their advertising campaigns where they are seen using chat app or video conferencing service.
"This was long overdue. The default target group for marketers has been between 18 and 45 years as it is a common assumption that young consumers drive consumption whereas evidence such as income show that it is the seniors that have the buying ability," said Santosh Desai, managing director and chief executive officer of Futurebrands Ltd, a brand consulting firm.
India’s ageing population, stood at 8.6% (104 million) of total population in 2011, according to an India Ageing Report 2017, by United Nations Population Fund. It is predicted to be around 12.5% by 2026 and could account for 20% (300 million) of the total population by 2050.
There has been a big attitude change in this segment as well with more senior citizens leading an active, healthy and productive life in their 60s. Marketers are gradually waking up to the fact that there has been a genuine shift in the consumption pattern of this category especially after pandemic has pushed the segment to adopt technology to navigate this time. In August, Flipkart owned digital payment platform PhonePe campaign featured a grandfather making the first online DTH recharge through the mobile wallet.
"We've witnessed everyone - from small villages to large metros, striving to keep moving forward in the 'new normal' with caution," said Richa Sharma, director - brand marketing, PhonePe.
WhatsApp's new campaign also shows an elderly woman staying connected with her nurse during lockdown through the app while in the Vi ad a nervous old professor is seen taking his first video class.
"While young consumers' tech usage has gone up, for older segment pandemic has opened up a whole new world of technology led services. It has become a great opportunity for tech marketers to tap into this segment," added Desai.
Meanwhile, brands such as Colgate India, which often resorts to functional ads, has been running a progressive campaign where a grandmother is seen sharing with her family her decision to remarry post lockdown.
"The old people portrayal in Vi and Colgate campaign makes for interesting storytelling. Senior citizen cohort is large like the millennial market as they have high spending power and will see a lot more action from brands," said Naresh Gupta, co-founder and chief strategy officer, Bang In The Middle.
From a scale perspective it is high time that companies commit to this segment and invest heavily as most products specifically created for this segment are prohibitively expensive, said Ankur Bisen, senior vice-president, retail and consumer, Technopak. "All the products that are easily available to us were niche 20 years back such as mineral water, sanitary napkin or contraceptives. This demand was created by the conscious efforts by brands. Similarly, commitment is needed from companies in the senior citizen category," he added.
Nobel Hygiene, homegrown manufacturer of adult diapers priced between ₹50 and ₹750, said with rising education and awareness, families and caregivers are understanding the importance of hygiene and dignity. The company is running a campaign to raise awareness and destigmatize the product.
"Having said so, adult diaper market penetration is still in the single digits. We have a long way to go," admitted Kartik Johari, vice–president, Nobel Hygiene.
Brands also need to go beyond the intuitive categories like healthcare and allied services as there is a demand for a variety of products but not many brands are addressing them, said Ashwini Sirsikar, country service line leader, Ipsos UU (Qualitative Research), Ipsos India. “Given the spending capacity of upper-class senior citizens there is an opportunity for brands in other categories to target this segment such as beauty and wellness, apparel etc." she added.