Panasonic launches elderly housing business in China

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A model room for a senior citizen’s home unveiled by Panasonic. An air-conditioning monitor shows PM2.5 levels, on Monday in China’s Jiangsu Province.

YIXING, China — Panasonic Corp. on Monday unveiled to the press a house tailored for elderly buyers that is under construction in China’s Jiangsu Province.

This is the first phase of the company’s Smart Town business, which aims to sell a package of Japanese health-related home appliances and housing equipment. Panasonic aims to tap into China’s huge elderly market of nearly 300 million people.

The 1,170 housing units for sale were developed in cooperation with Chinese company Yada International Holdings Ltd., which is engaged in the health business. The units are equipped with next-generation toilets that use sensors to check health conditions, along with automatic air conditioning that maintain humidity at 40% to 60%.

These are all-Panasonic houses, so to speak, each with more than 60 of Panasonic’s latest home appliances and housing equipment items.

At a press conference on Monday, Tetsuro Homma, Panasonic executive vice president and CEO of China & Northeast Asia Company, said the company would like to target 10,000 households a year for its future housing business for the elderly. In the future, the company is also considering developing its senior housing business in Japan.

China is an important market for Panasonic. The size of its business in China and Northeast Asia, including exports outside the region, was ¥1.8 trillion in fiscal 2020, accounting for 27% of its total sales.

Panasonic established China & Northeast Asia Company as an internal unit in 2019 to strengthen its business development in China by increasing local authority.

President Yuki Kusumi said: “In China, smart home appliances are far more advanced and the manufacturing industry is highly competitive. We have a lot to learn from them.” He will continue to focus on business in China.

China’s population over the age of 60 exceeded 260 million in 2020, and is expected to reach 300 million by 2025 and close to 500 million by 2050, as the population ages rapidly.

A professor at the School of Management at Zhejiang University said: “The problem that China faces is that its people are aging before they become rich. The government cannot bear the entire burden of the aging problem, and society as a whole will be required to deal with it.”