Latin America is the world’s fastest-aging region. According to CEPAL, forty years from now, Latin Americans over 60 years old will triple in numbers to almost 200 million. To an even greater degree than baby boomers in the US, elderly Latin Americans will wield disproportionate economic and political influence. They will demand better healthcare, modern public transit, and safer streets. For consumer marketers targeting LatAm, children and teens will be a declining market while the elderly will be a booming one.
Most Latins today at 60 years of age still work and earn 50-100% more than workers in their 20s, according to the World Bank. They are the first generation to manage their savings through privately run national pension systems, some of which are the envy of the world. As a result, today’s older populace is the darling of the banking system. They hold high cash balances, invest conservatively, and support a rapidly expanding private banking industry. Analysts estimate that the elderly represent close to 10% of banking clients but control as much as 20% of customer bank assets.
While Latin America grows older, its family and social structure is also changing at a breathtaking pace. Latin America’s three social pillars: family, church and home are being replaced by a ME generation characterized by smaller (and often broken) families, individualism, technology adoption and materialism. The traditional social contract of housing and feeding one’s elderly parents in return for limitless babysitting and household support is weakening. Soaring real-estate costs and working mothers leaves little room or time to look after the abuelos. Financially independent retirees want to spread their wings and travel, enjoy hobbies and “find themselves” after a lifetime of hard work. Latin America’s first generation of empty nesters has arrived.
Sectors That Stand to Win with the Boom in Seniors
A handful of sectors will thrive in Latin America’s aging demographic reality.
HEALTHCARE: According to Global Health Intelligence, healthcare spending across LatAm will average 7+% annual growth over the next 25-40 years. Assisted living, nursing homes and medical treatment will all enjoy explosive growth. In tandem with service growth will be the rising demand for pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
BEAUTY: Latin American women are already the globe’s highest per income consumers of cosmetics and cosmetic surgery. But aging Latin Americans will seek more natural and lasting methods to reverse and slow the effects of aging including exercise, dieting, and spa treatments.
TRAVEL: A decade (2004-13) of strong currencies and rising incomes planted the travel bug in middle and upper class Latin Americans. Brazilians alone spent $25bn USD abroad in 2013. Most of them were aged 20-50. Once they retire, they are likely to keep travelling. America’s market intelligence predicts that outbound tourism spending by Latin Americans will exceed $70bn by 2020 and continue growing at 5+% per year thereafter.
FINANCIAL PLANNING: As Latin America has globalized and financial markets have liberalized, financial planning has become far more complex for the region’s affluent. In the past, wealthy Latins kept most of their savings in conservative dollarized assets. But the American financial crisis tore a large hole in that strategy. Today’s aging affluent in Latin America are themselves more sophisticated investors than their parents and demand greater visibility of the decision making and analysis behind their portfolios. The US and European private banking models may not satisfy Latin American savers, the majority of which are entrepreneurs and want the freedom and flexibility to jump in and out of Latin American investment assets as well as hedge their savings in dollars.
Most business opportunities in Latin America are fraught with volatility. Not this one. The growth of empty nesters will be steady and positive for at least another 40-60 years. The products and services that Latin America’s elderly will demand are similar to those already sold to aging societies in Europe, North America and East Asia. But how those products are marketed and serviced will require unique approaches when introduced in Latin America.
Unlike any elderly cohorts that came before them, the 2025-2055 Latin empty nesters will be financially independent, well-travelled, politically outspoken, technologically savvy and commercially demanding—in short, a force with which to be reckoned. Investors and policy makers will ignore empty nesters at their peril.
Contact Americas Market Intelligence to obtain strategic insights into the political, economic and cultural landscape in Latin America that will drive your business decisions successfully in areas such as healthcare, logistics, payment, consumer initiatives, natural resources, industrial, automotive and more.