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Mintel Assesses Elderly Chinese Consumer Spending

January 30, 2013

Elderly Chinese consumers in China feel under-appreciated by retailers and marketers, according to new research from Mintel.

Elderly Chinese consumers (respondents aged 50 and up) in China feel under-appreciated by retailers and marketers, according to new research from Mintel. With Asian retailers in-particular expecting a bump in sales due to fast-approaching Chinese New Year, this key demographic’s potential remains latent, even as a fifth of elderly consumers claimed to specifically buy food and drink for special occasions, and half (49%) of elderly consumers claimed to be spending more time with family and friends - but it appeared that brands may not be taking this into account.
With life expectations reaching new highs in China, quality of life for the elderly is rising as well. Indeed, post retirement, a massive 57% of retired survey respondents said they exercised more, a third (31%) said that they cooked more, 20% went on holidays and traveled more and - importantly at Chinese New Year - 16% said that they went shopping more.
Still, just 8% of elderly Chinese consumers felt that advertising was aimed at them and the same number (8%) felt that shops and companies didn’t cater for retired people. Nearly half (46%) claimed 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 Matthew Crabbe, research director Asia Pacific at Mintel.
“With Chinese New Year around the corner, we are seeing a high proportion of elderly consumers buying food and drink for special occasions, showing that the social aspect of product buying is important to how elderly consumers spend their money. They want to share the good times with friends and family. The importance of family time, creating good memories and celebrating occasions is strong – highlighting the opportunity for brands around Chinese New Year.
“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,” he continued. “Entertainment, value-for-money and sensitivity to needs are therefore key ingredients of the future marketing of products and services to the elderly. 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.”
Highlighting the potential for this demographic to spend, over a third (34%) said that they had no worries about their financial future and 4% said that they actually had more money than they had previously.
After covering necessities such as bills and other necessities, retirees showed a strong propensity towards spending on experiences rather than on possessions. Days out top the list of things extra money is spent on - nearly half (44%) claimed to do this. Meanwhile 35% claimed to spend extra money on dining out and 20% 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%) will spend on personal care products) or their finances (nearly a quarter (24%) 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%) of elderly Chinese consumers claimed that their social life had improved since they retired, 27% welcomed the opportunity to try new things and just 9% claimed to find it hard to find things to do to fill their time.
When it came to which goods post-retirement consumers are purchasing, pharmaceuticals topped the list, with 38% claiming to have spent more on this sector and 49% about the same.