China's silver surfers

Theresa Loo and Sirius Wang
Ogilvy & Mather China and Millward Brown China

The over-55 population in China is growing and they've got money to spend. But marketers must tread a fine line between recognising their specific needs, while avoiding patronising them with clichés of old people.

According to Millward Brown's forecast, by 2030, 36% of the Chinese population will be 55 years old and above. This consumer segment has more disposable income than most people perceived. They have monthly personal and household incomes at RMB3,000 and RMB6,000 respectively, which are only a RMB1,000+ shortfall from the earnings of the mainstream segments of the post-70s and 80s.

They probably do not have mortgages nor education fees to pay. If they have residential properties, they are likely to increase in value over time. Furthermore, Chinese children are bound by a strong sense of filial piety and are likely to supplement their parents financially or buy gifts for them. A study by Kantar Worldpanel showed that 24% of products consumed by older consumers were received as gifts from children and friends.