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HOME NRI JOURNAL What is Needed to Expand Business in Japan’s Senior Market? Part 2: Creating Business Opportunities with Synergistic Approach


Innovation magazine that generates hints for the future


What is Needed to Expand Business in Japan’s Senior Market? Part 2: Creating Business Opportunities with Synergistic Approach

Marie Takahashi, Miki Shitamatsu, and Maiko Takiguchi, Global Manufacturing Industry Consulting Department
Satomi Tsunoo, DX Consulting Department

Apr. 27, 2020

As the senior market expands with the aging of society in Japan, business opportunities can be increased by making some changes to the perspective from which we imagine seniors. In this continuation of Part 1, we asked Marie Takahashi, Shitamatsu Miki, Maiko Takiguchi, and Satomi Tsunoo of NRI about each of their views on expanding business in the senior market.

What is Needed to Expand Business in the Senior Market? Part 1

Developing long-term strategies with an understanding of generational values and changes

Takahashi: Conventional senior strategies targeted people age 60 and up, or age 65 and up, but I recommend building a senior strategy from a long-term perspective including pre-seniors, people in their 50s, who are on the verge of becoming seniors. We can find hints for such strategies by using the results of the “NRI Questionnaire Survey of 10,000 Consumers” and performing chronological analysis. For example, in the most recent survey, it was revealed that people in their 50s have strong brand preference, and branding takes at least 10 years or so. It will be effective to revise conventional senior strategies with an eye towards ten years in the future.
Also, now, the degree of familiarity seniors have with ICT tools has changed. One food manufacturer, for example, has been able to more precisely ascertain how its products are being used and the effects they’re having by using a smartphone application, and I think they can reflect the same approach in their marketing activities towards seniors.
Going forward, I hope to continue making maximum use of our own survey and research results and other various data, pursuing research-based consulting, and providing solutions based on the actual conditions of our customers.

Taking an approach that combines physical, mental, and social aspects

Tsunoo: It’s said that what seniors are looking for in senior-oriented fitness clubs, more than exercise, is the opportunity to meet and talk with their friends at the gym.
In this manner, we’ll surely see an increase in business models that provide greater value to customers through a combination of physical, mental, and social health by integrating multiple methods and functions, rather than achieving just one value by providing a single method and function. I myself want to support the development of such new business models based on the novel concept of “wellness”. I wrote my essay on “wellness”, and I aim to continue developing and organizing my own understanding of a more advanced version of the concept and transmitting it to our customers by various methods using NRI’s powers of information transmission.

Partnering with companies in different industries rather than fixating on internal technology and in-house production

Takiguchi: There are many cases where companies in industries that haven’t previously been closely involved in the field of healthcare may come up with a proposal saying “Let’s think of services aimed at seniors”, but the plan ends up fizzling out and not going anywhere. One reason for that, in addition to the problem I mentioned earlier of not understanding the customer’s needs, is that the companies tend to fixate on in-house production, wanting to use technology that they themselves possess. In terms of breaking free from this insistence on in-house production, I recommend proactive conversation and partnership with other companies, such as venture companies, that have knowledge and data not available internally. Using data possessed by companies in different industries when discussing products and services that are popular with seniors can serve as an opportunity to understand just how minutely the senior class should be broken up and discover ideas for new services and companies to partner with. At NRI, we aim to use our insights on various industries and our networks to provide solutions matching our customers’ needs. For example, it’s our desire to realize the formation of project teams, or of external cooperation and partnership involving key people, that are capable of achieving and continuing new projects.

Public and private cooperation for a synergistic approach to broaden the range of activities and services

Shitamatsu: Thinking about partnerships, another problem is that in the field of nursing care, the players with the technology, the players that can provide space, and the players that have the mechanisms have been separate from each other. But we’re no longer living in an era where it’s possible to compete with only one of these things; companies are being challenged to take synergistic approach to provide necessary services right where seniors are. For example, if retailers can get shopping malls to provide space and set up an event where people accumulate points by walking around the mall, seniors will be able to add these points to their spending money and enjoy shopping while improving their health. This can be expected to benefit the malls as well by increasing the number of mall-goers. Further, if multiple players cooperate and partner with each other while collecting data that couldn’t be acquired previously, they will surely come closer to understanding the actual state of seniors.
In addition, in the field of nursing care, public-private cooperation is extremely important. If the various services and strengths possessed by private companies are merged with the nursing care prevention efforts being carried out by national and municipal governments, the range of attainable activities and services will broaden. I hope to serve as a bridge for such cooperation by leveraging the insights and networks unique to NRI as a result of our support of both the public and private sectors.

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