Senior citizens in China’s biggest cities are far more wired-up than previously thought, spending more on telecoms than they do on medical expenses, according to a new survey from Ogilvy.
Among the findings of the report, which looked into the habits of over-60s in Shanghai and Beijing, showed that telecommunications ranks fourth after food, daily needs and payment for utilities in terms of expenditure. What’s more, 85 per cent of respondents keep in touch with their friends through email.
China’s senior citizens number 143 million. The study from Ogilvy & Mather Greater China is designed to help brands understand the spending power of a demographic with a combined annual income of up to Rmb 400 billion (US$58 billion).
The elderly in Shanghai and Beijing, shop at supermarkets (84 per cent) and hypermarkets (96 per cent). Seniors also invest in taking care of their health and taking preventive measures. Seventy-six per cent do some form of regular exercise and 39 per cent take dietary supplements and/or vitamins.
The agency says the findings have strategic business implications for brands in obvious sectors such as healthcare, but also for travel and leisure, financial services, technology, food and beverage and retail brands. Per capita spending power of Chinese senior citizens is expected to rise from US$1,620 in 2005 to US$4,112 in 2015.
Kunal Sinha, executive director, discovery at Ogilvy & Mather Greater China, said: “We want to appeal to marketers who are obsessed with marketing to youth and haven’t woken up to senior citizens in the China market. Brand managers and marketing directors usually think there are no new opportunities with the ‘aging’ profile.”
He added: “The lesson for us is evident: old people in China have changed faster than our previous beliefs about them. Brands, corporations and government agencies can either choose to treat aging as a problem, or they can view the optimism and adaptation capacity of this generation as an opportunity.”
Combining ethnographic and quantitative methods, Ogilvy Discovery launched the study in March 2008 in Beijing and Shanghai, as well as Chengdu and Foshan, a small town in Guangdong province.
Responses were collected in equal proportions from 1,100 men and women between the ages of 60-75, and 12 seniors in Beijing, Chengdu and Foshan were filmed over two days each. The 55-minute TV documentary will be uploaded to YouTube.