How Japanese firms are adapting to their ageing consumers

One in four Japanese are over 65 and as I’ve said before, the country is serving as the world’s laboratory for selling to older

According to BCG, elderly Japanese outspend younger ones.They now account for two-fifths of personal consumption.

In this article from The Economist, a number of old and new product innovations are cited as examples of how companies are reaching their ageing consumers:

  • Panasonic has rolled out a string of new products, including foot heaters and lightweight vacuum cleaners.
  • Aeon, a giant retailer and shopping-centre operator, has a “Grand Generation” strategy, which ranges from providing one-stop medical clinics on the premises to making in-store signs easier to read.
  • Fujitsu, has sold 20m of its “Raku Raku” mobile phones, with larger buttons and simplified functions, and is now introducing them into Europe.

Not only can the business world learn from the successes but also from their failures.

For example; Bridgestone, made the mistake of promoting a new line of golf clubs as being for senior citizens; a rival brand did better by avoiding any explicit mention of age, but stressing its clubs’ ability to make the ball travel far, tapping into older golfers’ anxieties about not being able to whack it like they used to.

As is the theme of our book; Marketing to the Ageing Consumer, instead of creating separate products just for the old, it is better to design ones that bridge the generations.