By Saabira Chaudhuri
Demographic changes and the pandemic are propelling
consumer-goods companies to take a fresh look at a group of
shoppers who are often ignored: the elderly.
As people live longer and have fewer babies, the number of
over-65s surpassed those under five globally for the first time in
2018, according to United Nations data, and the trend has
The pandemic has disproportionately harmed older people, which
executives say has highlighted the importance of staying healthy
later in life.
That shift is prompting companies like Nestle SA,
Colgate-Palmolive Co. and Danone SA to launch new products aimed at
consumers they say are increasingly interested in aging well.
"We clearly see healthy aging, even more now with the Covid
world, as a huge trend," Danone Chief Executive Emmanuel Faber
Danone in November said it was setting up a new healthy-aging
unit to accelerate research into how nutrition impacts cognition
and mobility. The Activia yogurt maker recently launched in Brazil
Fortifit Pro, a whey-protein product that claims to aid muscles,
joints and bones, and said it plans to develop more products
intended to help people age better.
The number of countries with over 20% of the population aged 65
or above is estimated to rise from 15 last year to 44 by 2030,
according to the U.N. That number is forecast to reach 61 by 2050,
when it will include the U.S., China and Brazil.
Researchers estimate economic uncertainty related to Covid-19
will also accelerate declining birthrates in the U.S. and
Nestle last month launched a powdered-milk drink in China under
its Yiyang brand, aimed at older adults, which it says enhances
mobility during aging.
In recent years the company's health-sciences unit has shifted
its focus from making food and drink to aid the recovery of people
in hospitals, to helping prevent people from being admitted in the
first place, said Greg Behar, who heads the unit.
"There are more and more people who want to proactively manage
their health in the aging process," Mr. Behar said. "What is most
impacting people is a drop in physical and cognitive functions and
then there's the beauty and skin element too."
About 20% of Nestle Health Science's research budget is now
dedicated to aging. The company uses tiny nematode worms known as
C. elegans, which age quickly with a lifespan of just two days, to
test its nutrition hypotheses.
Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC, which makes infant-formula brand
Enfamil, has also launched a milk drink aimed at older consumers in
China that it says contains ingredients to boost the immune
Overall, Reckitt says the market in China for milk with added
ingredients to provide specific benefits is worth 500 million
British pounds, equivalent to $686 million, and growing at 13% a
year. The company is developing several products to capitalize on
the self-care trend, and is expecting Covid-19 to accelerate
Other companies are tweaking products to serve older people who
they say will spend longer living at home, rather than in
IKEA has begun selling upright armchairs with higher seating to
make getting up easier, slanted footstools to promote blood
circulation and jar grippers to help unscrew lids, among its
products aimed at people with reduced mobility, including the
The range is part of an effort to imbue design catering to
people of different capabilities across IKEA's products, said Britt
Monti, a senior designer who worked on the collection. IKEA held
off on labeling the range as being specifically for the elderly,
"Especially later in life you don't want to be labeled as
older," said Ms. Monti. "We don't want to make a big thing out of
it, we just want it to be a natural part of the design
Procter & Gamble Co. last year began selling a razor
intended for caregivers in Canada, where the company said data show
one in four people provides help to someone with aging-related
needs, a disability or long-term health condition. The Gillette
Treo, which was already available in the U.S., has a safety comb
and a wider handle filled with shaving gel that is designed to give
caregivers better control while shaving their elderly charges.
In beauty and skin care, older consumers tend to spend more,
making them a key demographic for companies like L'Oréal SA. In
France, women over-65s spend 184 euros, equivalent to $223, on
beauty products each year, compared with EUR120 for
25-to-30-year-olds, said Delphine Viguier, global brand president
for L'Oréal Paris.
Last year the company said growth in the skin-care market had
accelerated, driven in part by an aging population. It expects the
trend to continue longer-term.
Others have found success targeting antiaging products at
When Colgate last year launched an upscale amino acid toothpaste
in China intended to reverse visible signs of gum aging, the
company focused its marketing on a young audience using celebrity
bloggers and social-media apps. Colgate took the approach after
Filorga, its antiaging facial-care brand, proved popular online
with women between 25 and 35. The company said 80% of shoppers
buying Colgate Miracle Repair were under the age of 30.
"In China aging is for the young consumer," Colgate CEO Noel
Wallace said last year. "They are taking antiaging products --
across whether its skin health or otherwise -- and very, very much
looking to provide benefits to themselves at an early age."
Write to Saabira Chaudhuri at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 30, 2021 05:45 ET (10:45 GMT)
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