Brands fail with older Chinese shoppers

4 February 2013

BEIJING: Brand owners are failing to tap the potentially valuable audience of older Chinese shoppers by not producing ads that connect with this demographic, a study has shown.

Mintel, the insights provider, polled 3,600 people aged 50 years old and above, and found that only 8% believed ads are currently "aimed at them".

"Evidently, efforts by Chinese retailers to capture this important market segment are insufficient," said Matthew Crabbe, Mintel's research director, Asia Pacific. "China's elderly, clearly a group with money in their pockets, do not feel like there are enough goods or services that are targeted at them."

In an indication of the promise held by this group, exactly 34% of this audience had "no worries" about their financial future and 4% boasted "more money" than was previously the case.

Some 16% of retired participants also shopped more than when they worked, while 20% travelled with higher regularity. Another 31% cooked more often and 57% devoted more time to exercise.

Equally, a 44% share of retired consumers now spent more on days out, standing at 35% for eating out and 20% for air travel.

A further 38% of this panel had raised their outlay on pharmaceuticals, with 16% saying the same for small electical appliances, as did 15% for household cleaning lines and 13% for consumer electronics.

Figures from the China National Committee on Aging suggest that over 200m people in the country will be aged 60 years old and above this, a total that is due to rise by 10m per year going forward.

"Companies may not realise how much power elders have in the family, but it shouldn't be overlooked," Kunal Sinha, chief knowledge officer at Ogilvy & Mather China, the ad agency, told the Wall Street Journal.

He reported that 55–65 year olds in urban areas generally allocated over 50% of their outlay to food and around 7% to apparel, totals hitting 38% and 13% respectively for 45–55 year olds.

Volkswagen Group Import China ran an ad for its Beetle vehicle last year showing older people taking part in activities like skateboarding and spraying graffiti on a wall.

Kimberly-Clark, the health and personal care group, also believes that China will play a key future role in fuelling demand for incontinence products like Poise and Depend.

Data sourced from Mintel; additional content by Warc staff