Taking Care of the Over 60s

tanasakSometimes in the rush to exploit the growing youth market, companies can forget its more mature citizens. However, SCG shows that age is no barrier to commercial success.

Economic development and an ageing population are natural bedfellows. This applies as much to Thailand as to other countries around the world. The Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University has estimated that by 2015 approximately 20% of Thais will be over 60. This represents a potential mass market with very specific requirements.

One company that is keen to capitalise on this emerging opportunity is Siam Sanitary Ware Co. Ltd., which retails COTTO products and is part of SCG Thailand. The firm is currently number one in Thailand and third in ASEAN for bathroom fittings, with a projected turnover of 6 billion baht (US$183 million) for sanitary ware and fittings in 2014, up from 5.2 billion baht (US$158 million) last year. Around 30% is exported, mainly to other ASEAN countries.

At Architecture 14 Expo held late April in Bangkok, the company unveiled its new SCG Eldercare Solution range.

“Right now it [over 60s] is not a big market, but we think in the future it will be, the same as in Japan and Europe,” says Tanasak Sakariganon, managing director of Siam Sanitary Ware. “The people in ASEAN are living longer than before.”

Siam Sanitary Ware has been working with Mahidol University to develop its SCG Eldercare Solution range. While Siam Sanitary Ware provides the engineering know-how, the university provides an essential link to medical data.

“To make this [SCG Eldercare Solution range] successful we needed new knowledge,” says Tanasak. “We needed medical knowledge about the physiology and anatomy of the elderly, and their biological and social changes.” This is why the company selected to partner with Mahidol University, which has two hospitals, a medical school and a medical engineering school.

One important area is the bathroom, where 25% of falls by the elderly within the house occur. In SCG’s showroom bathroom at Architecture 14, hand rails are placed about the sink, toilet and shower unit, but instead of being made out of chrome they are wooden. For Tanasak, it is important that customers feel that they are still living in their home and not a care home.

“It is convenient for older people to stay in their old house,” he says. “We have redesigned our products to be more friendly to use and not to look like a hospital. Wood is one of the materials that gives you a homely touch.”

The overall package starts with a visit to the property by trained staff to assess particular needs, and includes a health check, after which a solution is proposed that is tailored to the individual’s requirements.

SCG Eldercare Solution was part of the Universal Design concept that SCG showcased at the Fair, which included its vision for the future sustainable home – The NEST. This is in line with its plan to become the sustainable business leader in ASEAN.

“We do believe that … we will continue to delivery quality of products and services that best serve every needs of customers in ASEAN,” Anuvat Chalermchai, brand director of SCG Cement-Building Materials said at Architecture 2014.

Words by Mark Bibby Jackson

Published in Horizon Thailand