DSG, a Thai manufacturer of diapers, says adult diaper sales have grown 30% this year, that they expect that the adult diaper market will be bigger than the baby diaper market within ten years.
According to the Thai government, Thais are living longer and they expect that 20% of the population will be over 60 by 2020. However, it is doubtful that this is the explanation. It can be noted that DSG advertising is aimed at Caucasians rather than Thais. Their adverts show old, white, people (who look like the editor of Private Tye), looking happy and satisfied. It might be supposed that this advertising is targeting the huge number of Europeans and North Americans who have retired to Thailand.
Does this mean that all Caucasians, that reach retirement age, are incontinent? On retirement Europeans used to be given a golden watch, now they get a packet of Pampers? Perhaps not.
Caucasians retired in Thailand love to get dressed up and go out to dinner. They like to frequent fashionable Thai restaurants to show off. However, most of them experience difficulty with the Thai food and can not made it to a restaurant washroom in time. Now, they can solve the problem. We can call them “the black tie and diaper set”.
But none of these explanations is correct; in fact, it has nothing to do with old people. Private Tye research has determined that most adult diapers are bought by Thais in their late twenties and thirties. These people have got into the habit of putting on an adult diaper before opening any letter from the bank. When they see how much they own on their credit card, mortgage, car and student loan, they inevitably have “an accident”.
The real story from Coconuts Bangkok:
Thailand's population increase in elderly residents comes at a time when living and education costs are rising along with economic development that has outpaced neighbors, according to World Bank.
The government estimates that households spend almost one third of their income on caring for elderly relatives, and KGI Securities estimates that healthcare spending will go as high as 7 percent of the gross domestic product by 2026, up from 4.5 percent in 2015.
In personal products, diaper maker DSG International Thailand PCL has seen adult diaper sales grow 30 percent this year, and expects double-digit growth over the next five years, said its chief operating officer.
"We see Thailand moving in the direction of Japan, where the adult diaper market will become larger than the baby diaper market, perhaps in 10 years' time," Justine Wang told Reuters.
Another company seeing opportunity in the demographic change is medical equipment supplier Samaphan Health which, with Taiwan's Apex Medical Corp, sells mattresses to prevent bed sores as well as respiratory products to aid sleep.
"Demand from wealthy clients is very strong," said Managing Director Chinnakarn Samalapa. Sales of its elderly care products have grown 10 percent annually since 2011 and will continue growing,” he said. "They don't mind spending to improve the quality of life for elderly relatives."
With so much money being spent on care, the government is considering allowing reverse mortgages which would allow elderly homeowners to convert some of their home value into cash — an initiative that would further boost the market for goods and services targeting the elderly, economists said.