A survey conducted by UK-based food and grocery think tank IGD shows an overwhelming majority of manufacturers and retailers already experiencing a rise in demand for high level new product development - a demand driven largely by people's desire to retain perpetual youthfulness.
This increasing demand for premium, added value goods is being seen as a boon for health and beauty product manufacturers, who had feared that the market might be over taken by low-margin economy products.
The marked rise in the demand of premium personal care products has already helped lift cosmetic sales in major markets like China, western Europe and the US, and the demand is set to rise further as large proportions of consumers enter the so-called 'third age'.
Demographic figures published by the US Department of Commerce show major rise in the number of people over the age of 55. In western Europe, for example, the over-55s are expected to grow from the current 28.6 per cent of the total population to 35.1 per cent by 2020, while the figure is expected to grow from 22.4 per cent to 29.3 per cent in North America and from 24 per cent to 31 per cent in eastern Europe.
The European trend is already clear, with recent data from the burgeoning Bulgarian cosmetics market showing that the 5 per cent growth in 2003 was led by a shift to high quality products. The trend is also visible in large European markets such as Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the UK, which command a combined cosmetic market of over €120 billion.
The increasing percentage of 'third-agers' is the perfect opportunity for manufacturers to drive growth through new product development, says the IGD.
"Both retailers and manufacturers must continually innovate in order to refresh and reinvigorate brands," said IGD's business manager David Gordon. Indeed, some shrewd operators are already aware of this trend and are mobilising resources to meet the demand for anti-ageing products.
About 90 per cent of the manufacturers and retailers questioned by the IDG said that the future lies in new product development, while some 83 per cent are confident that future consumers will be prepared to pay premium for value added products. About 52 per cent believe that lower pricing of economy products will not drive new product development out of the health and beauty market.
New product development is expected to be intense in the areas of nutritional supplements and premium skin care products. The market will grow as consumers continually seek products such as vitamin solutions and aids to help them stop smoking, said the IGD.
New products have already started to hit the shelves from companies such as US-based skin specialists NeoStrata, which recently launched a home-based skin care product designed to improve skin affected by ultraviolet exposure, fight wrinkles, refine pore size and intensify skin clarity.