Ageing populations in the developed economies of the Asia Pacific are presenting new opportunities for service-focused franchise businesses.
“All trends are just a manifestation of needs, and the needs of ageing societies are changing,” explains Singapore-based franchising expert Albert Kong.
Albert is the CEO of Asiawide Franchise Consultants and his regular travels place him at the forefront of the region’s latest franchising trends and innovations.
He nominates franchise services caring for the elderly in developed and ageing societies as one prominent emerging trend. Such services have done well in countries such as Singapore, Japan and Korea, and are also well suited to Australia’s changing demographics.
“Franchise employees in these businesses are usually not trained nurses. It is more of a companionship service where they check on elderly people in their homes to make sure they are OK and help with cooking, cleaning and any other services that may be required,” Albert says.
He warns though that aged care service franchises will not currently find a market in the fast-developing and much younger countries of South East Asia. Also, regardless of which countries they enter, it is important that such services are adapted to the local customs, habits and traditions of each country in order to avoid any cultural misunderstandings.
“Local adaptation is crucial so that there is a familiarity for the people requiring the service,” he says.
More money & less time = more demand for services
The growth potential that is being identified around the world in the provision of home services is highlighted by news from the US that Amazon.com Inc, which made it name in the selling of books and now many other consumer goods, is entering the home services marketplace.
Amazon Home Services will connect customers with over 700 on-demand services such as TV wall-mounting, garbage disposal and house cleaning. Amazon’s strategic expansion beyond consumer goods to professional services reflects its research that around 85 million of its customers buy products that require servicing or installation.
Albert says there is a very diverse range of new service-based business opportunities emerging in advanced economies such as the US, and also in Asia and Australia.
More singles, couples marrying later or not at all and not having kids is all contributing to smaller households, usually in apartments, with more disposable income but with busy working lives and less available time.
Home handymen, installation and repair services have strong franchise growth potential given the changing make-up of households in developed countries. But again, Albert warns that franchisors need to be aware of local cultural sensitivities in Asian countries that may have long-standing structures in the way such work is traditionally undertaken and provided.
One service that is growing strongly across the US, Asia and Australia is the care of pets.
“There are a lot of people now who are not married, don’t have kids, who live in an apartment, have busy jobs and have a pet but don’t have the time to look after it,” Albert says. “Therefore franchises for a whole range of pet care services, from grooming and walking to training, are growing.”
Other emerging franchising trends that Albert has identified in the developed economies of Asia, and which he believes will also be applicable to Australia in time, are specialist services combatting the problems caused by excessive pollution in major cities.
This includes fast-growing car cleaning franchises in China, where more people are buying cars and need to keep them clean from pollution. Water and air purification services are also in growing demand in the heavily polluted cities of China.
“Again, this all goes back to the demand for services that directly respond to the changing needs of societies,” Albert says.