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An 'aging population' defined

It’s 2011. World War II ended 65 years ago. The Baby Boom has marched into maturity. According to Nielsen, 10,000 people will turn 65 every day in the United States from now until 2030.
 We often speak of the worldwide “aging population.” The aging population will drive growth in natural healthcare. The aging population represents a substantial and underdeveloped consumer group. China’s “one child” policy has made it the most rapidly aging population in the world.
But what does this aging population really look like? How much are they spending? And what are they looking to buy?
 A new report from Nielsen helps flesh out answers to these questions, with implications for future growth not only in supplements, but other natural categories as well. The aging population phenomenon, it explains, is a consequence of a post-war spike in population growth followed by a steady decline in fertility. “The global fertility rate fell by nearly 48% from the early 1950s to now and is expected to drop by another 18% over the next four decades,” the report reads. “Simply put, modern life is not conducive to large families.”
 This leveling off of population growth, coupled with rising life expectancies, has contributed to an expanding elderly consumer group with expendable income and unique interests. Nielsen surveyed 26,000 consumers worldwide in September 2010 (and coincidentally, NBJ’s Consumer Research issue also came out in September), and asked, “What do you plan to do after retirement?” An overwhelming 62% of respondents across the globe cited travel among likely plans for the future. Another 34% of global respondents chose gardening as their favored leisure activity.
 Active seniors want to move, and this has clear implications for a variety of condition-specific supplement categories. Calcium and other minerals for bone health. Glucosamine/chondroitin for joint health. Fish oil, coQ10, probiotics and other ingredients catering to cardiovascular and general health. And a raft of new antioxidant products like resveratrol to address the anti-aging category.
 But the Nielsen report also suggests that seniors are developing a greater interest in categories where natural products have an established presence, like food & beverage and personal care. The survey cited Latin America as one world market where the aging population noted preference to beverages, sweeteners, pet food and hair dyes. It adds: “Other categories that could benefit—if manufacturers innovate and appeal specifically to this demographic—include a number of health & beauty segments such as shampoo, conditioners and deodorants.” The Latin American N&OPC market has grown by leaps and bounds recently, and, according to NBJ’s 2010 Global Report, grew 10% to $724 million in 2008.
 Whatever the market, whatever the category, the aging population needs to stay on your radar. As the Nielsen report says, “Population aging is not a short-term trend or even a medium-term one.”

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