Even before the pandemic struck, China’s senior shoppers were gradually closing the digital gap on younger consumers, but last year they made up the fastest-growing demographic of online shoppers and many are sticking with online shopping post-pandemic.

The context

China’s over-65s are expected to number almost 247 million by 2030, and investment bank UBS has described greying China as a “goldmine”, one to which e-commerce platforms are adapting.

  • The proportion of internet users over 60 years old has soared in the past four years from 4% to more than 10%. And e-commerce giant JD.com found that, in 2020, online users aged 56 and above spent 2.3 times as much as an average online shopper in 2017.
  • Already worth 3.7 trillion yuan ($570 billion) in 2018, China’s “silver economy” is expected to reach 5.7 trillion yuan ($880 billion) by the end of 2021, according to iMedia Research group.
  • Alibaba has spotted the growing e-commerce opportunity and launched its ‘Taobao for Elders’, which features simplified functions; JD.com has launched a number of initiatives to encourage seniors’ online confidence, including app training for digital payments, booking appointments and medical consultations.

Top takeaway

As UBS notes, where China leads, others will follow, and brands that develop products and services catering to China’s massive elderly population will be able to use this experience to find growth elsewhere since ageing populations are a global phenomenon.

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Sourced from JD.com, Alizila; additional content by WARC staff