Consumer Pulse
- A new social
structure in
the making in
Sri Lanka
Roshani Fernando

When the structure of the socio, demographic, cultural, political and economic fabric is in motion, one can anticipate significant change. Are we, as business leaders, sensing the winds of change? What does it hold for us?

Significant would be the challenges, and in them, lie the opportunities as well. Do we have the right lens for a fresh perspective of the future?
With every generation, don’t we realise how much life has changed? Isn’t it more prudent to anticipate what might be than realise it in hindsight?
Here are some macro indicators that are unfolding before us;
• Urbanisation is an early warning of shifting lifestyles. Sri Lanka is top of the table, clocking a 9.5% rate of urbanisation, followed by China that is urbanising at 7.4% (source: UN-Habitat State Of Sri Lankan Cities report 2014). This means we already have an urban population of 45% to 50%, as per estimations according to the Agglomeration Index, which uses multiple alternate indicators such as population density, night-time lights, etc.
• This is not only due to organic growth, but due to significant internal pull migration from rural into urban seeking education and jobs.
• The Megapolis master plan, when implemented, will enhance city infrastructure and efficiency. There would be no unauthorised dwellings; shantytowns will disappear. Over 20,000 Vertical Housing units are being constructed for lower-income families.
• By 2030 one in every five will be 60+ years old.
• Sri Lanka has been declared a middle-income country by the World Bank.
• Rapidly growing Agri-economy alongside a growing industrial and service economy.

Many are the urban challenges; all of us will have to get ready to resolve through our products and services if we are to become meaningful in the life of the emerging urbanite. Their challenges and needs will be at a whole new level than what we have witnessed.

• There is an emerging crisis of space that one needs to cope with, as housing gets smaller and becomes vertical. Ways of eating, cooking, doing household chores, recreation and privacy, for example, will change.
• A new form of poverty will raise its head - a time-poor generation will arise. This will impact relationships, age of marriage and childbearing. It will impact priorities in life.
• Emotional instability will be the new epidemic that will have to be dealt with. Are we ready for these new challenges?
• What about the silver crown community who will be fit, active and able? How are we meeting their needs?

All these are challenges of being able to target the right cohort and, moreover, being able to understand them and their life. Every business leader needs to be equipped with the right tools for accurate targeting.

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