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Retailers urged to target Chinese elders

Market research firm Mintel says elderly Chinese consumers don’t feel adequately targeted by local retailers and marketers.

Elderly Chinese consumers (respondents aged 50 and up) are feeling underappreciated by retailers and marketers. With Asian retailers in-particular expecting a bump in sales due to the fast-approaching Chinese New Year, this key demographic’s potential remains latent, even as a fifth of elderly consumers claim to specifically buy food and drink for special occasions, and half (49 per cent) of elderly consumers claim to be spending more time with family and friends. Brands, it seems, are not taking this into account.

With life expectations reaching new highs in China, quality of life for the elderly is rising as well. Post retirement, a massive 57 per cent of retired survey respondents say they exercise more, a third (31 per cent) say they cook more, 20 per cent go on holidays and travel more and – importantly at Chinese New Year – 16 per cent say they go shopping more.

Still, just eight per cent of elderly Chinese consumers feel that advertising is aimed at them and the same number feel that shops and companies don’t cater for retired people. With nearly half (46 per cent) claiming to be enjoying life more post retirement.

“Evidently, efforts by Chinese retailers to capture this important market segment are insufficient, as 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,” said research director for Asia Pacific Matthew Crabbe.

Crabbe said that with Chinese New Year around the corner, a high proportion of elderly consumers are expected to be buying food and drink for special occasions, showing that the social aspect of product buying is important to how elderly consumers spend their money.

“China’s elderly are trying, as much as they can, to enjoy their retirement and keep healthy, active and entertained, but products and services need to adapt to serve their needs, rather than miss out on the opportunities this growing consumer group represents,” said Crabbe.

Entertainment, value-for-money and sensitivity to needs are therefore key ingredients of the future marketing of products and services to the elderly, he adds.

“Elderly Chinese do not want to be regarded as “past their prime”. Marketers need to focus on positive messages in their advertising, promoting old age as a time to celebrate, rather than one of mere survival,” he said.

Highlighting the potential for this demographic to spend, over a third (34 per cent) say that they have no worries about their financial future and four per cent say that they actually have more money than they had previously.

After covering necessities such as bills, retirees show a strong propensity towards spending on experiences rather than on possessions. Days out top the list of things extra money is spent on – with nearly half (44 per cent) claiming to do this.

Meanwhile, 35 per cent claim to spend extra money on dining out and 20 per cent on air travel. But security also remains a big issue, and retired Chinese will continue to invest in taking care of themselves (almost one in five (19 per cent) will spend on personal care products) or their finances (nearly a quarter (24 per cent) will put cash aside into “rainy day” savings funds).

The importance of the leisure and entertainment sector to this age group cannot be underestimated, as over half (53 per cent) of elderly Chinese consumers claim that their social life has improved since they retired, 27 per cent welcome the opportunity to try new things and just nine per cent claim to find it hard to find things to do to fill their time.

When it comes to which goods post-retirement consumers are purchasing, pharmaceuticals top the list, with 38 per cent claiming to be spending more on this sector and 49 per cent about the same.

Small electrical appliances follow, with 16 per cent claiming to be spending more on these. Household cleaning goods (15 per cent spending more), consumer electronics (13 per cent) and toiletries 10 per cent) make up the remaining top five categories.

Meanwhile, nine per cent of this demographic claim to be spending more on large electrical appliances and five per cent on cosmetics.


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