China is made of many unique markets. Chinese consumers not only vary by geographical location but also by generation. The young in China receive a lot of airtime, and for good reasons; but there is a consumer group in China that many brands, products and services are missing.
In China, the older generation often gets overlooked when it comes to foreign products and services. There are over 200 million Chinese over the age of 60, making China’s elderly population the largest in the world. This number is expected to rise to 243 million by 2020 and 400 million by 2050 according to China’s National Committee on Aging, yet this huge and growing segment remains relatively untapped and often wrongly marketed to. Life expectancy in China has risen from 40 years old in 1950 to around 70 years old today; with indications the trend towards longer life will continue.
The spending power of Chinese over 60 is not something to overlook. In 2014 elderly spending accounted for USD $643 billion or 8% of China’s GDP. This is expected to reach USD $17 trillion by the end of 2050. Well-intended but ineffective marketing highlighting and reinforcing the debilitating effects of aging are not going to make this group want to buy a product or service.
Chinese above 60 want to live their lives fully, and opportunities exist for well-marketed brands that can speak to these unique consumers. Whether it be about health products, health care, travel, investments, FMCG or fresh food and beverage, reaching and communicating with this target market is quite different than addressing the young and affluent.
In research China Skinny completed for a dairy product targeting elderly, one recurring theme was how to best reach this age group. Not as active online as their younger counterparts, and often times less trusting, makes many traditional digital marketing tactics less effective. Getting smart about targeted online channels and influencers can be effective. With this group not as familiar with foreign brands, Chinese brands have a foot up as of now, but there are ample opportunities for foreign goods and services.
One positive caveat is that like younger Chinese, older Chinese are becoming more aware of, interested in, and proactive about their health and are choosing products for health reasons. Products meeting these needs are often imported as they are usually trusted to be safer. Emphasizing this point from the younger to older Chinese is pragmatic but these are two different demographics that vary not only by age, but also by geographical location and a number of other factors. For example, Mintel research found that 96% of Shanghainese 55 and older planned to eat more healthily compared to only 33% in Beijing. That’s a huge variance and doing due diligence to fully understand your target market by both age and location will go a long way. If China Skinny can assist in market research or marketing execution be in touch today.