Jewelry for the YOLD Market
The numbers of senior citizens are rapidly increasing around the world, especially in developed countries. Japan has the highest share of the elderly at 28.7%, followed by Italy at 23.3%, Portugal at 22.8% and Finland at 22.6%. The World Health Organization (WHO) expects that the population aged 60 years and older will increase by at least 3% per year. In 2020, there were approximately 963 million aged people around the world, accounting for 13% of the world’s population. The number is expected to increase to 1.4 billion in 2030 and 2 billion in 2050.
The rise of senior population brought about the new economic system called “Silver Economy,” which is related to activities that cater to the elderly’s needs and demands. As one of the world’s highest purchasing-power consumers, the elderly is an emerging market which will contribute greatly to the global economy in the coming years, with their spending oriented towards vacation, beauty care, healthcare and other premium products and services, including gems and jewelry. According to a study by Nielsen, the population at the age of 55 years and over, or “Silver Age”, accounts for around 18% of the world’s population. With a steady increase of silver age population as shown below, a promising opportunity arises from this consumer group’s spending.
“The YOLD are the baby boomers, who were born just after the end YOLD was born after World War II and have now reached the age of retirement. However, they refused to stop working since they are still healthy. Today, they have become an important marketing target due to their high purchasing power, sophisticated tastes and lack of financial burdens”
Understanding the YOLD
According to an article by John Parker in The Economist, the year 2020 is the beginning of the YOLD decade. The term “YOLD” derives from “Young Old,” which is defined by the Japanese as older people who are still active and healthy just like the young. In Japan, this group is in the age between 65 and 75 while in many other countries this term is used for those aged over 60. The YOLD are those in the baby boomer generation. They were born during the economic recovery after the end of World War II, when the birth rate was high due to the need of labor for economic restoration. With sheer perseverance, strong commitment and broad experience, the baby boomers have become a major driving force for society in the greater way.
In developed countries, the YOLD often refers to retiree who are wealthy, always active, sociable, and interested in shopping, services and finance. The YOLD have proved that the longer years they work, the more productive they become. Their strength might not lie in hours of strenuous labor, but in wisdom achieved through the integration of knowledge and skills from the preceding years of their lives.
According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), the developed countries now have 134 million senior citizens, or 11% of the total population, up from 99 million (around 8% share) in 2000, which is the highest change rate among all age demographics. Meanwhile, according to a study by Pew Research Center, the population aged over 60 years or the YOLD around the world accounts for 13% of the world’s population. They constitute as high as 26% of people in Europe, mainly living in Italy and Germany; followed by Northern America, where this age group accounts for 23%, living in Canada and the United States. The percentage is 13% in Asia, with Japan having the highest share at 34%, which is also the world’s highest as shown below.
Source: Pew Research Center
Japan is the country with the world’s highest percentage of the elderly and can be considered as one of the first countries which entered the super-aged society. Its 65-plus population is as high as 36.17 million or 28.7% of the country’s population. As for Thailand, Nielsen found that its aged population is over 13 million people or over 20% of the total population. It is entering the complete-aged society* in 2021 and super-aged society+ by the year 2035.
The YOLD’s Consumption Behaviors
Apart from strong health, the YOLD also maintain enough wealth to ensure financial security in their old age, leading to their high purchasing power. Additionally, more than a fifth of people aged 65 to 69 in developed countries are still working. With these factors, the YOLD are ready to spend their money and have become a marketing target for almost all categories of products and services, including travelling, healthcare, luxury and lifestyle. As for digital technology, the YOLD use smartphones or tablets to access various social media platforms, with a rising trend in finding information and ordering products online.
Regarding the YOLD’s online behaviors, it is found that around 70% of people aged 50 to 65 and 38% of people aged over 65 in the United States use the internet in their daily lives. Among these online users, 94% use it for sending and receiving emails, 77% for online shopping, 71% for health information browsing and 70% for news reading. Their online shopping and health information browsing reflect the marketing opportunity and the purchasing power of this age group. A similar trend can be found in Thailand. Results from their wealth, hobbies and lifestyle which indicate their high spending power, the YOLD have become the real major target for marketing today.
A marketing research by Nielsen noted that the top product which European elderlies show interest in/make online purchases of is clothing at 25%, followed by jewelry at 22%. People in this group also contribute to the highest ad click rate at 68%. Similarly, Thai elderlies tend to spend more time outside, improve their appearances, follow the latest fashion trends and have fun lifestyle, all of which result in more spending.
“The YOLD will revolutionize the market in several aspects, whether it is consumption, services or even the financial market.”
Moreover, people in this age group also focus on quality rather than price. If the product can satisfy their demands in terms of quality or prestigious brands, they will be willing to pay the premium prices. With their accumulated wealth, the YOLD are not price-conscious and not interested in price comparison. Although they are often loyal to their favorite brands, their brand loyalty is in decline compared to the level around ten years ago. This is an opportunity for new quality-oriented brands to penetrate the YOLD market, and a major challenge for old brands to maintain existing customers in this group.
Shopping Behaviors of Thai Elderlies by Age Groups
Source: Silver Consumer: Savvy and Sophisticated, Nielsen
The YOLD’s Popular Jewelry Products
In the near future, marketers around the world are likely to shift their attentions to older customers by offering products which combine innovation, technology and creativity to cater the demand of the YOLD as one of the highest potential consumer groups.
The YOLD do not like to be perceived as old people. Therefore, entering this market requires the utmost subtlety in satisfying their demand and showing that their style has not been ravaged by time. They are also familiar with technology. According to Nielsen’s research, people aged 55 to 64 years in the United States are the largest group of consumers in the e-commerce market. As a result, jewelry and technology are not beyond their reach anymore.
Products for daily wear including jewelry and watches now include digital functions in line with the trend of “wearable technology,” which is highly popular among the YOLD. This also leads to a rise of health gadgets, especially wearables with sensors, as well as jewelry with hi-tech features which is called ‘Smart Jewelry’ and ‘Beyond Jewelry’, for example jewelry with GPS tracking system; jewelry which tracks and records daily activities like exercises, sleeping patterns, heart rates or walking steps; and jewelry which receives notifications or messages from smartphones and display them with a change of colors, blinking light or vibration. There are also medical jewelry products which help in blood test, saliva test, breath test and heart rate measurement, of which the results will be sent via Bluetooth to medical experts for further analysis; as well as a small chip that can be embedded in jewelry like bangles or necklaces and sync with a mobile application. If the wearer needs help, he/she just presses on the jewelry, then a warning signal, including the wearer’s location, will be sent immediately to his/her family members.
Marketing Strategy for the YOLD
Jewelry industry should pay attention to the ‘YOLD’ or the wealthy senior consumers since they are those who have much free time for shopping and also have high purchasing power. These customers are willing to spend and aren't concerned about price comparisons. This is in contrast to the younger consumer sector, often known as the "Red Zone," where a huge number of competitors compete fiercely. At the same time, the YOLD are increasingly familiar with digital technology, such as internet, smartphones and social media. To penetrate this market, you need to offer products which cater the demand of YOLD in each country, who have different tastes and preferences, and also provide technology for daily use. This can be done in the form of Smart Jewelry, with healthcare functionalities and other helpful features for the elderly. It should be user friendly while still maintain elegant but simple appearance.
From the YOLD’s behaviors as mentioned above and the rise of e-commerce during the Covid-19 pandemic, the opportunity arises for jewelers who design unique and outstanding Smart Jewelry with features that keep up with the demand of this consumer group. Apart from traditional marketing and promotions, online platforms and online advertisements are also interesting options for entrepreneurs entering to this market, where the main keys are complete information, ease of readability and eye-catching images.