Companies cash in on silver dollar

Nature Farm's revamped Parkway Parade store includes a sampling bar for customers to try selected supplements (left), and wider aisles and a seating area (above).
Nature Farm's revamped Parkway Parade store includes a sampling bar for customers to try selected supplements (left), and wider aisles and a seating area (above).ST PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Nature Farm's revamped Parkway Parade store includes a sampling bar for customers (above) to try selected supplements (left), and wider aisles and a seating area (above).
Nature Farm's revamped Parkway Parade store includes a sampling bar for customers(above) to try selected supplements (left), and wider aisles and a seating area.ST PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Madam Boey Meng Chee, 65, a lab manager and her general practitioner husband, Dr Phoon Chiong Fook, 66, on a cruise to Braubach, Germany, in December 2015. Madam Boey says she looks out for tours that are not so hectic, with breaks for rest, when she tr
Madam Boey Meng Chee, 65, a lab manager and her general practitioner husband, Dr Phoon Chiong Fook, 66, on a cruise to Braubach, Germany, in December 2015. Madam Boey says she looks out for tours that are not so hectic, with breaks for rest, when she travels. PHOTO: COURTESY OF BOEY MENG CHEE

With one in four aged at least 65 by 2030, more retailers are catering to their needs

From designer walking canes to slower-paced tour packages, businesses here are starting to come up with more products and services tailored for the growing silver generation - and their deep pockets.

The market is huge: In Singapore alone, one in four Singaporeans will be at least 65 years old by 2030, up from one in eight now.

And globally, the collective spending power of those aged 60 and above will hit US$15 trillion (S$21 trillion) by 2020, market research firm Euromonitor predicts.

But this group is underserved, said several retailers and travel agencies which are attempting to plug the gap.

Mrs Eugenia Yeo set up online retailer Haf Box in 2012 to sell what she felt was lacking in the market - practical and well-designed products for seniors.

Her online store has necklace pendants that also serve as magnifying glasses, and designer walking canes that can be folded to fit into handbags. She recently expanded the range to include non-slip shoes from Japan and a walking cane that can be folded into a seat.

CHANGING THE STIGMA

Ageing well and meaningfully is an option.

MRS EUGENIA YEO, 31, who set up online retailer Haf Box to sell practical and well-designed products for seniors.

Besides cashing in on the silver dollar, Mrs Yeo said she wanted to change the stigma associated with ageing, by providing products that are not just functional, but beautiful as well.

"I thought about the type of products I would like to see my parents and myself using when the time comes and, from there, decided to bring in products that serve the social purpose of changing the way we age," said the 31-year-old.

Retailers gear up for the silver tsunami

"Ageing well and meaningfully is an option," added Mrs Yeo.

In addition to special products, other retailers are making their stores more senior-friendly.

Health food chain Nature's Farm, for instance, recently revamped its flagship Parkway Parade store to include wider aisles that can fit wheelchairs, a seating area, and a sampling bar where customers can try selected supplements before buying them.

The bar may be useful for customers who want to taste the supplement first, or who may have difficulty swallowing large tablets, said a spokesman.


Among online retailer Haf Box's products are necklace pendants that serve as magnifying glasses, and walking canes that can fit into handbags. PHOTOS: HAF BOX

Singapore Polytechnic senior retail lecturer Sarah Lim said businesses are gradually noticing that baby boomers are not as old-fashioned as their parents.

"They are more educated, well-travelled and know how to look for information online," she said.

"They can buy what they like for themselves, unlike their parents who may rely on their children to buy things for them."

Travel agencies seem to be leading the charge in the silver leisure industry, and banking on seniors to boost sales, as older folk tend to have more time for leisure travel.

At premium tour operator Insight Vacations, the number of guests aged above 65 has doubled in the past two years, and now accounts for more than half of its customers.

Most of its packages are designed with the older traveller in mind, and many have "relaxed starts", where the tours begin no earlier than 9am, compared to the predawn set-off and hectic itineraries of many conventional packages.

Meanwhile, Chan Brothers Travel has come up with thematic tour programmes, such as celebrity, gourmet or floral tours, which are particularly popular with senior travellers, said a spokesman.

One such tour takes travellers to the Bama County in China, known for the longevity of its residents. There, travellers get to interact with local centenarians, attend health talks by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and practise taiji.

Compared to mass tour groups, senior travellers prefer slower-paced tours, with some focus on the history of the destination, a range of healthier food and a variety of cultural experiences, said the chair of Silver Horizon Travel Cooperative, Ms Helen Lim, 70. Her five-year-old social enterprise organises group vacations for people over the age of 40.

Madam Boey Meng Chee, 65, who is going on her fourth cruise holiday with boutique cruise line Uniworld next month, said she likes that the itinerary is "not so hectic" as there are breaks for her to rest on the ship, if she wants to.

"The cruise is also all-inclusive, and most land excursions, admission fees, food and tips are all paid for, so I don't have to take too much money with me," added the lab manager.


Correction note: A previous version of the story said that Madam Boey Meng Chee is a lab assistant in the caption. This is incorrect. She is a lab manager. We are sorry for the error. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2017, with the headline 'Companies cash in on silver dollar'. Print Edition | Subscribe