Life at 60: marketers latch-on to generation M news
30 August 2008

Mumbai: Generation M, where 'M' is for Mature, comprises people who are above 60, and is an important segment which cannot be stereotyped.

According to an exploratory study by Jasravee Kaur, partner at Master Sun Consulting, the generation M has radically different needs and aspirations that need to be tapped by marketers, advertisers and businessmen.

The study estimates the segment to have around 73 million people, which will triple in 50 years. It says that though it is already a very significant niche, it will become increasingly important as India ages.

In the present day, the size of the generation is at around eight per cent of India's population, with 73 million above the age of 60.

In terms of numbers, that is more than the population of countries like France and Italy, with 55 lakh people in urban India above age 60, and of these around 50 per cent are economically independent says The Greying India. The segment is expected to triple in next 50 years, which makes it important to study and understand the emerging segment's needs.

A segment that cannot be stereotyped, generation M is not just a qualitatively different niche.

It is is spending well and not just on rubs / balms / anti-aging products.

Unlike stereotypes, a lot of the generation M is financially sound with limited or no liabilities (read high purchasing power). This is supported by a trend of more and more senior citizens getting registered in the employment exchange, as reported by a labour ministry report and survey by HSBC in October 2007.

Senior citizens today have higher savings and are becoming more open to investing in medium-risk instruments like mutual funds. The future of retirement survey on older people by HSBC dispels the myth of this segment being burden to society.
Interestingly, the contribution of older people to the income tax department is Rs8,500 crore, of which Rs1,600 crore is on voluntary work.

The labour ministry report and survey by HSBC was conducted on 1,013 people aged from 40-79 years, and found that Generation M, rather than being passive and withdrawn, is becoming increasingly media-savvy.

Consumption of television and press is high amongst seniors, and intensity of consumption of print higher than that of youth. Contrary to popular notion, seniors are more alert to the changes and stimuli of external world.

The study points out that the generation M is spending high, and not just on rubs / balms / anti-ageing products. Smart marketers like Himalaya Chyawanprash, Pfizer, and SBI are connecting with seniors by connecting to a more real persona (displaying their playful, mischievous, young-at-heart side).

Sunrise Sectors for Generation M
Some of the sectors that are emerging to be 'sunrise sectors' in context of the ageing population:

  • Products and services related to the accommodation and shelter. According to Sarvajeet Chandra of Master Sun Consulting, these could be emergency services, security systems, housing / real estate, second home, etc.
  • Consumer durables such as refrigerators, ovens, microwave ovens, geysers, washing machines, air conditioners, water purifiers etc. Jasravee Kaur of Master Sun Consulting feels that ''changing societal norms and resultant lifestyle needs are creating a segment of seniors who prefer their independence and choose to live separately from their offspring''.
  • Personal care-related products and services, general maintenance and care cosmetics, anti-aging cosmetics, colour cosmetics and other anti-aging products, beauty parlours, spas and saunas. Jasravee Kaur notes that ''With a second chance at life the elderly are treading the earth softly and with care. They are living for themselves and want to preserve their looks, and keep fit and healthy. Older couples want to feel good about themselves and celebrate their married years of togetherness''.
  • Wellness products such as fortified wheat, protein related intakes, nutrition enhancing supplements etc. Increased nutrition is a way of being proactively in-charge of their life and destiny.
  • Health-related products and services such as gyms and fitness centers, centers offering alternative therapies and treatments, nutritional supplements, immunity enhancing supplements and vitamin tablets, gadgets and equipments related to health monitoring etc. A demand for these products is driven by needs of taking holistic care of themselves and not to be dependent on anybody.

Besides Generation M wants to be mobile and active till the very end. According to Sarvajeet Chandra of Master Sun Consulting, this will trigger a proactive spending on positive (testing, monitoring) rather than curative (treatment, hospitalization) healthcare.

The financial sector will definitely see a plethora of product and services innovation and introduction of new and pertinent forms. This creates opportunities for wealth management and new innovative products like reverse mortgage.

A peek into Generation M Insights from Exploratory Research
A continuum of profiles ranging from a conventional, traditional and conservative personality to an open, easy-going, exploratory and modern-thinking personality.

Seeking religion as a gateway to peaceful thoughts and contemplation. Jasravee Kaur of Master Sun Consulting observes that ''religion is a coping mechanism for dealing with excess time at hand, and complex  / changing role and status in family.''

View youth with awe, some admiration, and envy.

Feel the need to earn respect from the younger generation.

Seek active participation and inclusion in all aspects of life. Not adopted a 'retired' mindset of disengagement.

Seek knowledge on technology and are keen to learn, but fear an inability to operate results in hesitation and distancing.

Enjoy travelling, TV viewing, family outings, and listening to music.

Friends are a key interest and influencer to a positive mind state. Jasravee adds ''friends provide an important sounding board to discuss new categories, brands and influence brand choice''.

Attitudes to technology
Information-seeking and exploration of technology, newer products, their utility and relevance, availability, and usage method.

Higher excitement towards wanting to own a mobile than a computer. Jasravee Kaur notes ''The mobile phone is used sub-optimally for voice and SMS, but value-added newer features are appealing with latest models with camera, download features''.

There is a desire and an aspiration for computer fluency and guided usage and accompanied instruction. Many have attended computer courses and have access to computers at home.

Critical Feelings / Emotions
Going out of the house is a big need as it gives the person a feeling of purposeful engagement and time utilisation.

There is a pride in spending time at work especially in one's own business.

Inclined towards social work or related activities. Jasravee observes that ''this provides fulfilment of the need for recognition and self assurance, social power, fear of getting obsolete, and a sense of 'giving back' as a social obligation''.

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Life at 60: marketers latch-on to generation M