Bottled water the beverage of choice for Seniors

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 19th May 2009

The ever lucrative seniors market is growing, presenting food and beverage marketers with a major opportunity.

Access to significant liquid capital ensures seniors are likely to ‘upgrade’ and choose premium products, according to research group Datamonitor, particularly amongst ’empty nesters’ who have no dependent children to support. And, in the non-alcoholic drinks sector, this means opportunities for bottled water, functional products and fruit juice.

Consumers over the age of 50 have years of experience of consumption, enabling them to spot better quality products more easily. The recent ‘less is more’ philosophy might also reinforce the pursuit of high quality products, Matthew Adams – Consumer Analyst at Datamonitor- contends.

As baby boomers head toward retirement the seniors market is going to expand very quickly, with growth from 1.6% to 33.6% by 2012. And that is off a high base, with almost a third of Australians over the age of 50, making the region one of the more mature in the world.

“This should make the Senior consumer particularly worth targeting in terms of potential market size alone,” Mr Adams advised. “The aging of the Baby Boomers is a factor in turning toward a less materialistic approach to the luxury lifestyle.”

“With increased consumer awareness of ‘sustainability’, many products made with natural ingredients cultivated organically, or sourced from specific origins, are becoming popular among these sophisticated consumers. The appeal is not just related to the high quality image of such products, they also carry the signal that they are ‘danger-free’ and benefit from the natural substances they contain.”

Mr Adams noted that the importance of remaining hydrated has been widely covered in the general media in recent years, with the body’s need for water to ensure optimum performance from muscles and the brain a key focal point. This may be one of the key factors in influencing the rising sales of bottled water in many national markets, as consumers seek to gain the numerous benefits of staying hydrated.

“Datamonitor’s 2008 consumer survey found that hydration is one of the most consistently heeded dietary concerns of all consumers with an average of 53.3% of all consumers stating they pay either a high or very high level of attention to the practice,” Mr Adams said. “This level of attention paid to remaining hydrated is highest among Seniors and rises with age to a peak of 57% of respondents aged 65 and above responding positively when surveyed by Datamonitor.”

“In Australia, the relative consumption of bottled water by Seniors, compared to population numbers, is highest among the mixed Senior and Pre-Senior age group of consumers aged 45-54,” he added. “Seniors tend to reduce the amount of water they consume and for those who have retired they may lead lifestyles which allow them to plan ahead better and do not need to rely on buying water in convenience retail channels. This could be either due to taking water with them when out of home or by having more time to stop for refreshments than is true of still economically active adult consumers.”

Fruit juice is also one of the primary beverage types associated with hydration and consumption among Seniors has typically been high. In New Zealand, Seniors ‘over consume’, but Australian fruit juice marketers appear to have a great opportunity as Seniors remain likely to ‘under consume’ in the fruit juice category, Mr Adams advised.