Why We Partnered

Why We Partnered with Aire: Championing the Silver Economy in Southeast Asia

May 15, 2024
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Why We Partnered

Why We Partnered with Aire: Championing the Silver Economy in Southeast Asia

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Why We Partnered with Aire: Championing the Silver Economy in Southeast Asia
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We are excited to announce our investment in Aire, a senior focused consumer brand, on a mission to redefine perceptions of ageing and incontinence founded by CPG veteran Nivedita Venkateish.

While Southeast Asia is often celebrated for its youthful dynamism, a silent tide is rising — a growing aging population that will redefine the future of consumer spending in the region. According to WHO, the population in Southeast Asia Region is ageing more rapidly than expected. While the proportion of people aged 60 or above was 9.8% in 2017, it will increase to 13.7% and 20.3% by 2030 and 2050, respectively.

Having recognized the quiet yet pressing challenges associated with ageing, DSG Consumer Partners has identified an early adopter in the Silver Economy Space in Southeast Asia -- Aire (https://shop-aire.com/). We are thrilled to announce our seed investment in this forward-thinking brand, which aims to transform how society approaches ageing. Founded by Nivedita Venkateish, a CPG and marketing veteran, Aire launched its debut product line of Adult Pull-Up Pants in Singapore in mid 2023 with adult pull up pants which are softer, more absorbent and more effective than traditional players.

We believe that Aire transcends being a mere product or a brand; it's a desire to transform the ageing experience, redefine what it means to be a consumer brand focused on older adults and ultimately-to offer comfort, security, and a chance for millions of older adults in South East Asia to fully enjoy their lives.

Seizing the Silver Economy: The Unseen Potential in Southeast Asia's Aging Demographic

For early-stage investors in Southeast Asia, the spotlight often shines brightest on younger demographics, particularly Gen Z and Gen Alpha, and centers on spending preferences catering to the youth, which span from hip eateries, innovative beauty products to toys for their fur friends. Yet, as we shift our gaze to the ageing population, we find a narrative less told and a market less tapped despite the Asia Pacific silver economy forecasted to reach $4.6T by 2025 catering to 600 million seniors in the region.

Firstly, there's a stark contrast in perceptions around consumption patterns: the youth are seen as impulsive and lavish spenders, whereas the elderly are seen as frugal and judicious, their wallets seemingly tighter - hence there's a notion that the money of the elderly is the hardest to earn despite the segment forecasted to account for more than 50% of all consumer expenditure by 2030! Contrary to popular belief, we believe that the potential within the silver economy is also vast and specifically in building brands which reach older adults where they are. Studies show, an overwhelming majority of older adults don’t believe brands speak for them and worse misrepresent them and their needs - with a perception that brands and advertisers are not interested in them or only serve to stereotype them. 

DSG Consumer Partners, as a consumer focused investor recognizes the multifaceted needs of the silver generation, especially amidst the ongoing demographic transformation in Southeast Asia.

Over the past three decades, the phenomenon of an ageing population has extended beyond Japan to other countries in Asia. Even in Southeast Asia the tide is turning. The demographic aged 60 and above is expected to skyrocket, doubling from 85.7M in 2023 to 173.3 million by 2050. Within South East Asia, Singapore and Thailand are considered aged societies and are soon to be super-aged societies with more than 20% of the population over 65. This shift is not merely a trend; it's a sea change, and will result in a burgeoning demand for products and services tailored to the elderly—needs that are urgent, and yet, largely unaddressed.

The digital landscape is shifting too. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online shopping among the elderly. Older Singaporeans, for instance, have shown an increased acceptance of e-commerce and digital entertainment. Shopee's surveys illustrate that 70% of the silver generation, those aged 55 and above, have incorporated e-commerce into their daily routines. This group is also expanding their online purchases beyond what is typical for Gen Z and Gen X, with 84% of seniors exploring a wider variety of items. Additionally, half of the senior respondents indicated that apps and games on e-commerce platforms have become a staple of their leisure time.

Empathetic Innovation in Adult Incontinence

Through our deep dive into the silver economy and the need-stage of their lives, adult diapers represent the first foray into the ageing economy — a product of necessity and frequent use.

For many, adult diapers might still be an unfamiliar concept, rarely used, purchased, or even heard of. Yet, in Western countries and Japan, the adoption of adult diapers is remarkably high, with penetration rates reaching 70-80%. Adult diapers address the needs of individuals with incontinence (urine leak) issues. Before their availability, people resorted to cloth diapers (similar to the era before baby diapers became popular) or relied on care from family members. Both approaches placed a significant burden on caregivers and hampered independence. Adult diapers, however, greatly simplify managing incontinence and give agency back to those in need.

The majority of us might be unfamiliar with adult incontinence products simply because there hasn't been a need for them in our families. However, for households with a need, once an individual starts using adult diapers, it's hard to go back. Our conversation with leading brands in this category reveals the repurchase rate of adult incontinence products can be as high as 60%, indicating that once seniors begin using them, they tend to continue. Like tissues and sanitary pads, adult diapers are lightweight, bulky, and have a relatively long shelf life, making them ideal for online purchases.

Zooming in the adult incontinence sector in our part of the world, which we believe is at a turning point with increasing awareness and the gradual decline of cultural stigmas. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of incontinence products, and rising GNI per capita across the region is indicative of a market on the cusp of significant growth.

Bridging the Gap with Purpose: Aire's Vision

At DSG Consumer Partners, we are passionate about identifying and investing in disruptive ideas with a purpose that holds the potential to transform lives. Aire's inception is rooted in the personal narrative of its founder, Nivedita Venkateish, who saw her grandmother contend with the challenges of incontinence. Witnessing her daily struggles, the lack of innovation and dignity in existing products, the outdated brands and messaging - she felt compelled to make a change.

Having built her career across CPG and Tech working at Diageo, Kraft Heinz, and Meta and armed with an MBA from Columbia Business School, she bootstrapped Aire for the first year eager to validate her strongly held belief : that the market for "senior" products exists and there is an ocean of opportunity when we change our outdated beliefs about this customer segment. From the 75 year old ballroom dancer who trains his peers twice a week, to the 70 thespian who teaches movement to fellow retirees and myriad other stories - Niv has been deeply inspired by the vibrancy, personality and desires of seniors.

She spoke to hundreds of customers, understood the challenges with incontinence and what building trust in a highly stigmatized category entails. Aire's first line of products were developed with seniors and for seniors - from the product and it's efficacy to the brand messaging, design and go-to market. 

Since its inception in June 2023, Aire has launched Adult Pull-Up Pants, a market now dominated by slow-moving traditional players yet a space hungry for thoughtful products. Through its first product line, Aire seeks to encourage individuals to freely enjoy their time with loved ones, actively engage in their local communities, and pursue their hobbies and interests, all while feeling confident and secure in managing their incontinence.

Within three months after its initial launch, Aire's direct-to-consumer approach was quickly broadened to a robust omnichannel strategy, engaging e-pharmacies, online platforms like Shopee and Lazada, and traditional retail players across Singapore. The brand's commitment to quality and affordability and a positive image have resonated with consumers. Since launch, Aire has shipped tens of thousands of pull-up pants across Singapore, garnered thousands of customer testimonials and reviews and made a significant difference in the lives of seniors.

Since its inception, the brand has focused on meaningful partnerships, such as those with local senior communities, active ageing centers and government agencies with a goal of spreading awareness around incontinence and managing the condition better through exercise and diet, working with physiotherapists to conduct workshops.

Looking forward, Aire will harness social media to better connect with its target audience, particularly as more elderly individuals access these social media platforms.

By addressing incontinence, a prevalent yet underdiscussed challenge, Aire has chosen an entry point that builds immediate relevance and trust with its audience. But the vision extends beyond. Incontinence care is just the beginning; it opens a dialogue about senior care needs and positions Aire as a trusted partner in the broader journey towards healthier, more autonomous senior living. As Aire grows, it has the potential to expand its product suite to address a spectrum of needs, forming a holistic assortment of smart healthcare solutions for the elderly.

Looking to the Future: DSGCP's Commitment to the Unseen Journey

As Aire embarks on its journey to reshape the adult incontinence market. We are excited to support Aire as it expands its reach and continues to break barriers, ensuring that age does not define one's ability to live life to the fullest. 

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