Unless one has been living as a hermit away from civilization, it is highly unlikely not to have come across celebrities, friends and virtual strangers posting wrinkly & grey-haired images of oneself with the hashtag #FaceApp. As the FaceApp rage hits social media, marketers too are waking up to the potential that elders as a consumer segment can offer, which has hitherto gone largely unnoticed. ‘Old is Gold’ has suddenly become the new fad! But in reality how do people really feel about getting old?
Ipsos conducted a new global study to understand the ‘Grey Power’, and how optimistic people are when it comes to their preparedness for ageing. The study revealed that 49% Malaysians are not optimistic about ageing and are not looking forward to old age. This is in huge contrast to some emerging markets (India 73% and Turkey 67%) where optimism about old age is very high. For Malaysians, this paints a worrisome picture of later life, which could translate into a potential opportunity for marketers.
Furthermore, Malaysia is ranked No.4 when it comes to its citizens worrying about getting old. A significantly higher percentage of Malaysians compared to the rest of the world opined that they worry about getting old. 62% Malaysians (compared to 52% globally) worry about getting old. In comparison citizens of India (45%), United States (48%) and United Kingdom (50%) worry less about getting old.
But what is heartening to note is that 76% Malaysians (compared to global average of 64%) feel that it is possible to prepare for old age. This confidence stems from the fact that a whopping 85% Malaysians (against global average of 57%) expect to be fit and healthy in old age. Globally, only 29% agree that old people have too much influence, politically. However, a significant 44% of Malaysians polled felt that the elderly have political clout.
The survey further revealed that whatever little optimism Malaysians have about ageing is underpinned by their faith in technology. 60% Malaysians believe that technological developments will help make their lives easier during their old age. On the contrary, only about fifty percent Europeans (44% in France & Belgium, 46% in Sweden, 48% in Hungary & Czech Republic and 51% in United Kingdom) believe that technology could improve their lives drastically in the old age.
The survey revealed another major concern. For Malaysians, a relatively young age of 56 is considered to be the onset of their ‘sunset years’. This is a good 10 years early than the global perception of the onset of old age. The survey revealed that people in most countries polled marked the arrival of old age in their late 60s or even early 70s in some instances. People in United Kingdom and United States consider 68 to be the onset of old age.
When asked that what the worst thing about getting old is; globally 30% of those polled responded that they personally worry about not having enough money to live on in the old age. Losing mobility (26%), losing memory (24%) and being unable to do things one once could (22%) are the other top concerns voiced by those polled. A predominant view that emerged globally was that it is the job of the young to care for the ageing relatives. Interestingly, while a majority 76% Malaysians endorsed this view, more than half of Malaysians (56%) polled also felt that there is a general lack of respect towards the elderly. But despite these roadblocks, most Malaysians are confident that they can cruise through their ‘twilight years’ with considerable ease.
Arun Menon, Managing Director of Ipsos in Malaysia:
“Decreasing fertility rates and increasing life expectancy is fast forwarding Malaysia to the status of an ageing society. Malaysians, considering 56 as an old age, are not optimistic about ageing. Where the marketers might look at this as an opportunity, there is an uphill task for the government and communities to be equipped to support an ageing society. However, the development in technology and preparedness might make life easier during old age.”