Healthy living and longevity are prized by consumers in Asia Pacific and the dietary products industry is poised for transformative growth, with a particular focus on the ageing population.
The population aged 45+ accounts for 33% of the total in Asia Pacific; this proportion is projected to exceed 41% in 2040
Source: Euromonitor International's Future Demographic Model 2023
The demand for nutritional solutions tailored to the unique needs of older adults has never been greater. This article examines five prospects within dietary products, each strategically aimed at addressing the health and wellness concerns of the maturing population across Asia Pacific.
Filial-duty gifting to increase in importance
The cultural norms of filial duty and gift-giving in Asian countries drive a separation between buyers and users. Major countries in the region are undergoing a demographic transformation due to declining birth rates and urbanisation, consequently reshaping filial consumption habits. An increasing number of adult children are remotely purchasing age-friendly dietary products for their parents and the frequency is also moving away from festivals to more regular, cyclical purchases.
This shift has propelled the popularity of e-commerce platforms that offer seamless ordering and delivery options. Younger consumers often show less price sensitivity when selecting gifts for their parents. Brands should seize the opportunity to capitalise on this consumer trend driven by cultural symbols.
Increasing social media usage to change purchase decisions
As older adults engage more actively on social media, how they are influenced and make purchasing decisions will change.
24% of consumers aged 50-59 in Asia Pacific are highly influenced by health treatment approaches endorsed by celebrities or social media influencers, up from 11% in 2019
Source: Euromonitor's Voice of the Consumer: Health and Nutrition Survey 2023
However, moving from consuming content to purchasing has been low due to complex online ordering and payment, which is often challenging for elderly consumers. E-commerce retailers must prioritise the development of ageing-friendly shopping experiences tailored to seniors. Among the various e-commerce models, live shopping is gaining prominence among elderly consumers, as it offers a personal touch and aligns with recommendations and insights from trusted live shopping hosts.
Targeting menopause symptoms holds potential
A more positive and open conversation about menopausal health is on the rise. Women in Asia Pacific are now adopting a wider range of approaches to manage their health concerns. Instead of relying on prescription medicine, more opt for a holistic approach involving nutritional supplements, over-the-counter medicines, exercise, and digital tools to effectively manage and alleviate symptoms.
Menopause stands at the crossroads of the healthy ageing economy and women's health technology, benefiting from a diverse and sizeable population with substantial purchasing power. Various products tailored to this demographic hold significant potential for further development.
Personalisation for enjoyment is a space to develop
Amongst consumers’ top food and beverage features, the “local” factor differentiates preferences between those aged 60+ and 45-59. This includes products sourced from/manufactured by and supporting local communities. Consequently, there is higher regard for a range of related product factors such as ingredient provenance, familiar or regional tastes and flavours, and traceability/supply chain.
In addition, whilst taste is important to all consumers, the loss of or changes to taste buds as part of a natural process of ageing must be considered. Special formulations that adapt to these changes could drive the importance of sensorial research and testing, in order to create products that seniors can enjoy.
Inclusivity beyond just health and nutrition
Foods that can provide a sense of comfort through familiar flavours and formats are a refreshing difference from more clinical supplements and foods that aim to improve health through functionality alone. In fact, older adults in Asia score highly relative to other regions when it comes to attitudes towards experiential products.
25% of Asian consumers aged 45+ seek curated experiences tailored to their taste, compared to 15% of the same demographic in North America
Source: Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyles Survey 2023
Packaging enhancements such as resealable, better grip design and material more resilient to breakage have yet to break into the market as well but have great potential.
How to grow with an ageing population
It is essential to understand not only the lifestyles of the elderly population but also the motivations and preferences of buyers (whether care providers or gift givers). This extends to their digital lifestyles, changing perceptions towards health, and evolving shopping patterns. Expanding the community and ecosystem of dietary products to support healthy ageing could have a long-term effect on older adults as they age and enter the senior life stage.
Designing personalised solutions should extend to both product features and services, with the aim to improve the enjoyment of life and ease ageing. Attitudes towards nutrition and ingredients are changing alongside the experience that older adults seek through the food and supplements they consume. Building a strong support system of peers (“granfluencers”), senior-friendly retail and e-commerce experiences, and convenient and inclusive packaging are all areas of potential for the future.