May 23, 2010

MALAYSIA: Fabulously 50ish, free to splurge on fun?

PENANG, Malaysia / The Star / Business News / Comment / May 23, 2010

By Carol Yip

OLD is the new young. Middle and old age are traditionally seen as times of conformity, responsibility, risk aversion and settling down.

Yet instead of retiring with slippers to listen to the classics, many of the “new old” are still pursuing the rock 'n' roll lifestyle of their youth.

“New old” consumers

A quarter of Americans over 50 play video games - up almost threefold since 1999 - and the average “frequent game purchaser” is 39 years old, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

Recording Industry Association of America data shows that the over 40s are the only age group whose music purchasing has risen in the last decade.

The average motorcyclist is 47 years old, according to J.D. Power and Associates, and other Pew Research Center data shows that three-quarters of baby boomers own mobile phones and nearly a third have created a social networking profile.

The National Council on Aging claims singles aged 55 and older are the fastest growing group of online daters.

Something very different is occurring. At the other end of the age divide, it seems to be cool to be aged and gets even better when one has money to enjoy it.

Recently, Procter & Gamble, the US consumer goods giant, extended its partnership with NBC Digital Networks, the online publisher, to create a range of websites tailored specifically for “boomers”.

“Knowing that more than a third of all Internet users are adults between 45 and 64 years old, we saw an opportunity to work with Procter & Gamble to create a site network that can actively fuel this age group,” Devin Johnson, VP, NBC Digital Networks, said.

Mintel research studies show that around 10% of female boomers currently buy cosmetics and beauty goods online.

Members of this group spend around 13 hours a week surfing the Internet at present and typically favour the e-commerce services of major retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, CBS and Walgreens.

“Female baby boomers are one of the largest beauty care segments, known for their spending power, proactive health habits and dedication to product research,” said Kat Fay, a senior analyst at Mintel.

“Innovations like virtual makeovers, new product Tweets and online-only sweepstakes draw in consumers and provide them with benefits and discounts they can't find in an actual brick-and-mortar store.”

Overall, Mintel predicted that the number of female boomers purchasing skincare brands such as Procter & Gamble's Olay and Unilever's Dove via the web will rise by 30.9% from 2005 to 2015.

Ageless consumerism

According to a recent Synovate PAX study that covers the top 30% most affluent and influential consumers across 10 markets of Asia Pacific, the 50+ group have a higher likelihood than younger (25~49) consumers of owning financial and investment products, offshore investments and real estate, but there's more - even in home entertainment, they show their spending power.

The Asia-Pacific consumer market is transforming. There seems to be an ageless consumerism where the “new old” is indulging in consumer products and services that are meant for younger generations.

With such attitudinal and behavioural shifts, it's time to reassess your retirement planning.

Obviously not every boomer conforms to these new typologies. But statistics suggest more and more do. It's time to start thinking about your future spending.

If you think you are a “new old” consumer, you need to grow your money if you want to enjoy the fun and benefits of these “age-less” products and services. I'm already talking to my clients about it!

Carol Yip is a personal financial coach and also founder and
CEO of Abacus for Money. [rc]

Copyright © 1995-2010 Star Publications (M) Bhd