Buyer-centric market
- "Smart seniors" armed with information will be increased

The age of "maturing economy " and " market transparency”

Now is the age of the Internet, which has become our social infrastructure. In the age of "maturing economy "and “market transparency”, the senior market will change to be a more "buyer-centric market". Fig. 4-1 shows the change in Internet usage by age. Most of the increase in utilization over the past decade is the age group over 60. Japan is now one of the cheapest broadband countries in the world. The cell phone penetration rate is over 90%, and more than 60% of the population in their 60s is already using cell phones.

Fig. 4-1 Change in Internet usage by age from 2001 to 2009

Source: Murata Associates from Usage Trend Survey in 2009, Ministry of Communications

Smart seniors will be increased

Buyers’ ability to gather information is dramatically increased by their working with information devices. And the greater the increase of their ability to gather information, the more choices about their products and services they will demand.

Fig. 4-2 Internet usage by age group (from 2001.12 to 2009.12) growth rate

Source: Murata Associates from Usage Trend Survey in 2009, Ministry of Communications

In the past, buyers were used to follow the voice of sellers.. However, buyers with access to extensive information tend to expect sellers to be more responsive to their preferences. In other words, a senior empowered with the ability to gather information becomes a “smarter senior consumer” with more bargaining power than ever.

Eleven years ago, I called those advanced seniors "smart seniors” who are acting aggressively to gather information through the Internet. I predicted that the number of those smart seniors would increase in the near future.

The increase of “smart seniors” will make the market more buyer-centric

In response to the increased number of “smart seniors”, product suppliers have changed their strategies; they have to provide lower price quickly if the quality of the product is the same as others or quickly provide higher quality products if the price is the same as others. This means that the traditional "supplier-centric market", where suppliers had price control power, has become more “buyer-centric market" where buyers have bargaining power to negotiate and push to price down.