Hit markets for 2007? What active senior citizens, affluent young executives and the masses will buy this year?

Published in Philippine Daily Inquirer on January 26, 2007

WHILE CHINESE horoscope experts and mainstream soothsayers debate the outcome of the Year of the Boar, nothing beats a close study of Philippine macro-environment trends to predict which markets may grow, businesses likely to prosper, products that can possibly create demand and customer segments more responsive to product and services.

Here are ten sector trends certain to show stellar performance in 2007 and beyond.

Grey market

One, grey markets and age-defying products and services. A Global ACNielsen report released November 2006 revealed that today’s 60 years olds are perceived to be the new middle age. The finding resulted from a consumer survey conducted by the world’s leading market research company in 41country markets. This comes as no surprise as seniors today do not think about their age in general. Unless extremely tired or depressed, older people do not feel their age. This new behavior has resulted from a new lifestyle. With medical advancement, cosmetic surgeries, availability of health supplements, a new attitude toward a healthy lifestyle and wise use of their time; many silver citizens are able to keep a productive work and family life and as added bonus, this while not looking their age at 60 years old.

However, the biggest challenge for silvers is how to enhance their memory and reduce their incidences of senior moments to sustain their productive life. Thus, beyond silver fashion, cosmetic surgeries, body sculpting, eye laser surgeries; the market remains largely untapped for memory enhancement pills, memory games for seniors and brain calisthenics sessions in more accessible senior-frequented places.

On a lighter note, the seniors too, are strong markets for nostalgia brands, brands that remind them of their youth e.g. Volkswagen, durable Ace bags, choc-nut, etc. No wonder original retro models especially in designer brands are commanding higher prices.

Escapist products and services

Two, anxious and stressed netgens and escapist products and services. Examples are online gaming, gaming consoles, sci-fi and mythical entertainment and make-believe world wrestling entertainment matches.

Young people 25 and younger, born when the internet has become man’s greatest invention are today’s victims of a fast paced lifestyle, where everything that needs to be done and learned should have been done and learned yesterday, where boundaries have been eliminated and where talent is pitted not against one’s own race but this time against the global talent pool. Relief from daily stress has become fodder for escapist products like Nintendo’s wii gaming console, Sony PSP, WWE, etc.

Healthcare markets

Three, health and wellness advocates and healthcare markets. The increasing cost of healthcare has pushed Filipino consumers to take proactive care of their health. With more than 20% of the Philippine population at 20M now belonging to the 40 year old and above, there remains endless possibilities for new healthcare products and services including all types of nutraceuticals, even bracelets to sanitary wares that do daily body health checks, etc. along with the more popular soda substitutes, fitness regimens and diet trends.

Self-indulging products

Four, indulgent consumers and self-indulging products and services. While only 9% of the Philippine population may be able to sustain a truly comfortable life, nonetheless one’s economic status as evident among the midincome group is no barrier to indulging one’s self once in a while. There will always be a market for designer brands like Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, Prada, etc. even if it takes a bit more time to own one or it consumes nearly a quarter of one’s overseas take home pay . Not to mention occasionally patronizing Starbucks or UCC coffee; listening to rock band music Hale and Cueshe and simply bar hopping; or joining friends at Metrowalk, Greenbelt, The Fort, Embassy, etc. for Friday night fun.

Travel and tourism

Five, upwardly mobile young cosmopolitans and travel and tourism. Young and paid well, some nearly at the top of their career, these upwardly mobile young professionals are often single, footloose and loving every bit of their freedom. On top of their list is to see the world by themselves or with their peer group. A common sight lazing round the beach in Palawan or Boracay, traveling locally or overseas can become serious passion. With airfare rates friendlier these days, more exciting destinations available and the tourism infrastructure better organized in many countries, the travel market is open season to a strong, robust emergent market.

Branded products for males

Six, males and branded products. With the rising number of stay at home husbands and men taking over what was traditionally women’s ground like shopping, advertisers need to understand how men respond to brands. An ACNielsen male homemaker proprietary study revealed that men preferred brands that were more familiar; and valued word of mouth endorsements from family and friends. Men were less inclined to be impulse buyers and were not likely to spend a lot of time shopping. Because men are rational buyers they appreciate packaging labels that carry relevant information that would help them make a decision about the product or service.

Home Office

Seven, home office and pay for performance workers and home based industries and portable business equipments. Home and work-life balance drives the home-office business-office worker. With business equipments and facilities more portable and easy to own and install in homes ; and technology access ubiquitous; more and more highly skilled workers and talent are turning to halftime work, pay for performance contract assignments and/or multi-engagements while doing some, if not all of their work at home with spare time to attend to family matters in between work.

Pink market

Eight. Pink market and the real estate, leisure travel and tourism, cosmetic and body sculpting surgeries. While aesthetic enhancements are worn like a badge by the pink market, this is not the only category that benefits from this group of hard-working, high net worth individuals. Self-indulgence and family relationships share equal billing in the prink market’s priorities. They have strong presence in the real estate, travel and tourism and cosmetic healthcare categories.

Eco-friendly products

Nine, Environmental advocates and eco-friendly products like bio-fuel and/or ethanol-based products, green electronics, organic pharmaceuticals and clothing. As world consciousness about the importance of preserving the natural environment and consequently issues about global warming, reducing toxic wastes, managing energy use, recycling products, etc rises, more and more products and services will be introduced and marketed precisely on this platform. Eco-friendly products and services are certain to thrive in the future as governments around the world are pressured to preserve their side of the environment in the interest of human survival.

Commodity items

Ten, commodity items and the predominantly masa market. In a nation where 90% of the market has a household income of roughly Php15,000 ($300) and below, there will always be a market for commodity products and services, largely price brands, even imitations. Because Filipinos have been raised in a consumerist society, likely appealing are cut-offs from the original branded items without the pricing level of the original ranging from food to apparel to electronics, etc. e.g. local luncheon meat in place of Spam, Louis Vuitton first or second grade imitations versus the original,etc. No wonder tiyangges are a haven for many.

Every New Year is a year of opportunity. As long as the market has been identified, profiled and its needs are served, each year will always be a good if not robust and truly blessed year.