Catering to seniors a good bet for business

Updated: 2014-05-02 11:03

By Zheng Jinran (China Daily)

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A survey conducted by the China Consumers' Association in October 2013 found that with economic growth, aging people, who tend to save more, have increasingly greater desire for various services - from necessities like medical services to touring, studying and other entertaining activities.

About 45 percent of the 1,928 respondents in the survey said they would like to travel around - more than in previous years. And about 14 percent of them travel frequently.

But it's not rare to hear of senior tourists complaining about things moving too fast when touring with younger people.

"The services provided based on the seniors' needs are insufficient," said Mou Lina, deputy secretary-general of the China Silver Industry Association, a national NGO in the aging industry.

"Many companies failed to realize the true requirements for products and services," she said, adding that she cannot find soft and comfortable clothes for her aging mother.

That's not just her complaint. A survey of elderly people by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information, showed that 57 percent of respondents in China thought they couldn't find the barrier-free facilities in restaurants that are crucial for seniors.

Almost half said they could not find foods in small packages, which are more preferred by seniors.

On the contrary, if companies seize the details for serving the elderly, they can get quick growth, just like Happy Maturity, Mou said.

She gave the example of the explosive development of Pinetree Senior Healthy Living, a company that provides professional healthcare for seniors at their homes.

"They managed to expand their customers from 10,000 to 150,000 in three years," she said. "The success should be attributed to the boom in the aging population."

As the major service that the senior residents need, healthcare services lag behind demand. In 2012, every 1,000 aging people have only 21.5 beds in social care institutions including the public pension houses, the committee said.

"Governments have to issue more policies to encourage more companies to take part in the healthcare industry and also temper the development of disorder," she said.

Du Peng, a professor at the Institute of Gerontology at Renmin University of China in Beijing, agreed, saying that many real estate projects that identified themselves as being for the elderly popped up, while few of them were actually equipped with sufficient facilities for seniors.

Moreover, he said, it's hard to get information about pension houses out to seniors and their families.

"Unified online platforms containing the information on facilities and more companies that can provide services are urgently needed," he said.

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