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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Developing properties for different generations

The hype surrounding the huge “generation gap” among Malaysians seems to be among the many efforts marketeers are creating to widen the appeal of their products.

Differentiation is certainly a clever way to expand in an otherwise listless and static market. From new generation gadgets such as the iPod to branded fashionwear and credit cards, marketeers are quick to leverage on these differences to make us buy into their message that “we should never leave home without them.”

The country’s demographics is changing fast with more young Malaysians making up a bigger share of the population. The Gen-Yers (aged 15-30) are making a big impact in the market place. The Gen-Xers (born between 1965 and 1979) and Baby Boomers (1945-1964) are also important market segments as they wield the most purchasing power.

The different needs, habits and lifestyles of the various age groups creates huge opportunities for property developers to tap into.

So, planning and designing the right products to meet the requirements of the various age groups should be among the priorities of niche property players.

Instead of turning their projects into a one-size-fits-all, the better option is to identify special products and fit them with the right facilities for the different age groups. This will add higher value to the projects and make them more marketable.

In fact, greenfield projects offer the best opportunity for developers to draw up a good master plan where the needs of different buyers can be catered to.

Irrespective of age, developers should note that property buyers place high priority on security, good neighbourhood, quality workmanship and convenience. So, projects should always be planned with those needs in mind.

Although there are more niche developments, especially high-end gated and guarded enclaves, most property projects are conventional developments aimed at the mass middle-income market.

The projects are mostly apartments, terraced and detached houses with the usual basic necessities, either in guarded or non guarded enclaves.

I believe there aren’t any developers that have set out solely to cater to the needs of senior citizens. The reason may be because most senior Malaysians are cared for by their children and are living with them, while some may be in homes for the aged or infirmed.

But there is certainly a growing number of senior citizens that have the financial means to own homes in well planned, built and managed housing estates.

For many senior citizens, retirement will be the best time to pursue their “postponed gratifications.” Those with grown up children are likely to experience the “empty nest” syndrome and will look forward to live in homes that are easier to manage.

Many Baby Boomers (aged 45-64) will soon be joining the ranks of retirees and are likely to consider such facilities. If properly planned and managed, developments for our senior citizens could be the next trend for developers just like in Australia, Japan and South Korea.

Projects should preferably be low-density and low-rise with amenities for the aged such as lifts, ramps, medical facilities and attendants, health rejuvenation centres, laundrettes and convenience stores.

As most retirees will look forward to a more relaxed environment, developments should be in quiet suburbs, but close enough to the basic needs and conveniences.

Meanwhile, properties that cater to younger buyers such as Gen-Yers should have smaller built-up for easier maintenance.

Deputy news editor Angie Ng believes simplicity can enrich one’s life regardless of whether one is a Baby Boomer, Gen-Xer or Gen-Yer.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

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