Minnie Wang
Apr 9, 2021

Brands see Chinese seniors becoming active digital users

Latest Wavemaker report on China's "silver economy" finds a rise in smart products and digital campaigns are connecting with older generations.

Brands see Chinese seniors becoming active digital users

Wavemaker, together with Nestlé Health Science, have released their fifth report on seniors in China, Embracing Spring of the Silver Economy.  In it, the latest finding predict that "2021 is destined to become a milestone and fresh new start for China's silver industry" because of three significant changes in policy trends, industrial structure, and driving force. More smart elderly companies and innovative products, as well as marketing and advertising campaigns, emerged and connected with silver consumers, defining them from "passive users" to "active consumers." 

From 2018 to 2020, the number of smart products and services for seniors has tripled. In 2020, 1,908 start-ups related to the silver industry (with registration capital over 10 million RMB) were set up. More investment and talents flooded into the burgeoning markets and the report predicts that the silver economy will become more diversified at a faster speed. 
According to Wavemaker, based on spending data and projected population from the research, the estimated annual spending of senior citizens from tier 1 to 3 cities in China is 6.64 trillion RMB. 
The silver economy in China

Wavemaker has been publishing this research on senior citizens' hidden values and power in China. Now there are 250 million silver consumers in China since 2019.  Underlying the reports is the knowledge that by 2025, there will be 300 million senior citizens in China.

Family planning policy (the one-child policy) adopted in the late 1970s will exacerbate the aging problems in the coming years, and at the same time, bring more business opportunities to the silver economy. 

Instead of learning from other countries, China is now exploring new models for its own silver economy, creating even more opportunities for new products, technologies, and services. 
Over the past two years, Wavemaker collected several rounds of data and found that the enthusiasm of the Chinese silver generation "is even higher after 2020" when the pandemic hit. The urban silver generation has become more confident and is investing more in personal appearances and skin management. Some senior consumers are more often following popular products from food and beverage to beauty and smart technology. 

Age anxiety has eased, as they are not worried about retirement and have more expectations for their life after retirement. With the emerging consumption and the new generation of senior citizens in China enjoying a more digitised and intelligent life, the report called it "silver generation 2.0".

But the market is still imbalanced with not enough supply. In terms of health, beauty and fashion, transportation and travel, finance service, markets still need exclusive products tailored for silver consumers. 

The report also pointed out that alongside an increasing penetration rate of emerging medical devices, water purifiers and smart health products, the penetration rate of FSMP (food for special medical purpose) among Chinese silver consumers is only 2%.

Wavemaker’s previous four chapters of silver economy reports analysed the trillion-dollar “growth opportunity for now” and “growth driver for future”, discovering that prejudice is the biggest barrier to engaging seniors.  

For more information, see Wavemaker's Crash Course on marketing to China's silver generation


Campaign China

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