Planning ahead for social disruptors

In addition to the proliferation of disruptive innovations, shifting social trends must be considered when planning a route-to-market strategy in Asia. 

Population change is of particular interest, because national populations are growing and declining at variable rates, which will alter the demand patterns in consumer, healthcare and business markets in future.

  • China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand have aging societies with significant implications for the labor force, social infrastructure and taxation revenues, the provision of healthcare and the funding of pensions 
  • In East Asia, the elderly population will grow by about 22 percent every five years between 2015 and 2034 according to The World Bank, By 2060, one in five of the world’s oldest countries will be in East Asia, compared with just one in 25 in 2010 
  • Complicating the aging scenario is that some nations, such as Thailand, are aging at a much lower income level, which emphasizes the importance of policy reforms in critical areas, such as pensions, healthcare and later-life care provision
  • Conversely, in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam, aging is less of an issue, and governments and businesses will need to focus on the provision of goods, public services and employment for younger demographics. By the year 2045, for example, the Philippine population is projected to increase to 142 million

Other social dynamics are also emerging. Improved access to Asian markets is increasing the level of cross-border investment, while vastly improved social mobility, and the opportunity to live, travel and work in neighboring countries will likely result in higher rates of intermarriage and children with dual-nationalities who will grow up bilingual or multilingual, travel frequently and purchase goods in both of their “native” countries.