Japan's Splurging Seniors: Enjoying the Fruits of "Saving Up for Old Age"

Now 10% of the population, Japan's "Swinging 70s Women" outspend not just men, but younger women on beauty, socializing, and clothes.

Over 14 million women, or more than 10% of the 127 million Japanese people are aged 70 or above. There are 1.4 times more women in that age group than men, and these women are outspending their younger counterparts in fashion apparel, social dining, and beauty services and products. 

  • Japanese women’s average lifespan announced in July 2015 is 86.61 years old, an increase of 0.21 years over the previous year. Blessed with good health and free of the financial burden of raising children and caring for their aged parents, these women outspend women in their 30s and 40s in fashion apparel, beauty services and cosmetics, and socializing. 

  • The governments’ household spending survey shows that for skirts, for example, women in their 20s spend 2,997 yen; women in their 30s spend 3,641 yen; and women in their 70 and above spend 6,749 yen. 

  • In the same token, women in their 20s spend 22,237 yen on beauty treatments (including hair cuts and styling); women in their 30s spend 34,301 yen; and the septuagenarians spend 39,299 yen. 

  • Mitsukoshi Department Store Nihonbashi Store (the group’s flagship store and known for its wealthy clientele including members of the Imperial family) opened a upmarket multi brand boutique named Re-Style Lady in September 2014, targeting women aged 64 through 74. To accommodate the older clientele, the store is fitted with twice as many fitting rooms as other boutiques within Mitsukoshi, and also includes a socializing corner. According to Mitsukoshi Sales Manager Takumi Odajima on the Nikkei Marketing Journal (12 July 2015 issue), the boutique has exceeded sales targets to date, and some months in double-digits.

  • Fast Nail, a nail salon chain with 31 salons, is seeing approximately 20 regular customers who are in their 70s at one of their flagship salons, Nails Unique Ultimate in Toshima-ku, Tokyo. According to Chihiro Yamawaki, Store Manager, in an interview with CarpeDiemJapan, “while the average customer in her 20s and 30s spend around 10,000 yen per visit, the older customers spend at least 12,000 yen because they have no restrictions for designs due to work. They are happy to have more decorative nails. They also come here for the socializing. Spending a couple of hours chatting to our manicurists is something they enjoy and look forward to. "

  • Yuko Yuko, a travel publication targeting seniors, is now delivered to 1.2 million households and 1.5 million subscribers. http://www.yukoyuko.co.jp/service/  The bimonthly publication not only offers information, but is full of vouchers that offer special packages at hotels and restaurants, as well as discounts. 33% of all voucher users are over the age of 70 and 70% of them are women. “The average price for a lunch is in the higher 2,000 yen range, but readers seem to choose their destinations not by price, but by atmosphere and quality of the food,” comments YukoYuko Senior Management Strategist, Hiroki Utsumi. (source: YukoYuko advertising brochure)

  • Iki Iki is a magazine for 50+ readers whose subscription base is 47% septuagenarians. Their e-commerce site: http://www.e-ikiiki.jp/ec/ proves that the older customer is just as responsive to trends as younger women. For example, oil supplements and oil drinks is a popular health trend among younger women. The same products are popular on Iki Iki as well. “Our readers are particularly responsive to trends in healthcare products,” says Junichi Tsuchiya, Executive Officer of Iki Iki. (source: CarpeDiemJapan interview)

  • Egao Shashinkan http://egao-shashinkan.jp/ is a photo studio for older people that opened in March 2014. They offer a make over and photo shoot package at 19,800 yen and 2 hours a session that is popular. According to Akiyoshi Ohta, Representative, approximately 75% of the clientele are over 70 and 90% are women. While many customers choose to have photos taken as funeral portraits, most come in groups with friends. The photo studio is run entirely by men and the female customers enjoy being pampered by them. The studio currently enjoys over 80 bookings a month since the beginning of this year. (source: the Nikkei Shimbun)

  • At El Viento Flamenco Studio in Nara, http://www.elviento-flamenco.com/index.html , there are classes for women aged 70 and above that is extremely popular. The school offers classes to students of all ages, but the two classes for these older women have the lowest turnover with approximately 20 students. The school hosts a major performance for all its students on a biannual basis, and the older students are the most lavish when it comes to costumes. Some will actually travel to Madrid, Spain to order one and the others don’t buy ready-to-wear, either. When the school hosts special lessons by inviting teachers from Spain, the senior women are usually the most committed to these extracurricular programs that run every day for a week or 10 days. “I love the dance, I love doing it with friends who share the same passion. Sometimes, I feel more comfortable being with them than being with my husband who has been working long hours for more than 40 years since we spent little time together - we were both busy. I was busy with the children and he was working,” says Emiko Wada, 75. (source: CarpeDiemJapan interview)

  • According to a survey by Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, Hakuhodo HABIT 2013, septuagenarians on average have 53,000 yen per month that they can spend freely vs. 35,100 yen for their working age counterparts. And while men tend to spend more time at home, women are more active. They grew up as the Japanese economy was picking itself up after World War II. They enjoyed themselves during the Bubble Economy, and they are keen to stay active and are not shy to spend. 

The Japanese senior consumer has long since parted with stereotypes about age and how senior citizens should dress, act, and spend. They spent the last 40 or so years “saving up for old age” and now they are cashing it in. Women aged 70 and above are now 10% of the population, but by 2050, they will be 18% - or, one out of every five Japanese person will be a woman aged 70 or higher. Is your brand/product really just for younger adults? Have you prematurely excluded seniors as a potential target without exploring the possibilities with this affluent consumer group?


Department store Matsuya has started offering higher quality premium products at a 10% discount on the 15th day of every even month - the day pensions are paid. As a result, they are seeing year on year growth of 10% or higher on those days. Other potential services septuagenarians appreciate in retail is the interaction with the sales staff. More staff and more rest areas (couches and benches) and creating a seniors friendly environment is a powerful differentiation factor.