How Taobao Targets China's “Silver Economy”

Mandarin character for family.

Mandarin character for family.

China’s 60+ generation is over two-thirds the size of the United States and growing fast. 55+ said to account for 18% of total online travel market.

Alibaba Group’s c2c ecommerce brand Taobao recently launched a new channel targeting China’s growing senior population. The strategic move makes sense, given China’s quickly aging demographic. Those age 60 and above will surpass 255 million by 2020. 

Taobao for “elders” will streamline the user experience with less overwhelming and targeted content for senior shoppers. China’s aged now depend heavily on the ecommerce site to deliver life’s essentials including groceries.

Indirectly reaching younger generations supporting their parents financially is also part of it. The new channel will have a peer-to-peer chat feature that connects the generational divide. Part of it includes a “pay-for-me” option where well-to-do offspring can turn around and pay up, once shopping cart reaches capacity.

The brand’s strategy aligns well with a market that has undergone rapid upward mobility and urbanization. 

Some things to keep in mind: China’s population remains 43% rural compared to 18% in the U.S. Income levels are also significantly higher for those living in cities. Purchasing power is another important metric, since the vast majority of Chinese still cannot afford to travel.

The middle class continues to ballon, however. Demographers expect it to expand from 430 million today to 780 million in the mid-2020s

Travel brands targeting China’s outbound traveler should take note and consider these familial dynamics. Recent data from Tuniu estimates those 55 and older account for 18% of the total China online travel market.

Here’s additional background on Chinese family life from the Global Policy Institute.

“While it is no longer the norm for extended families to live together, family members still retain strong ties, and often depend on each other for financial and interpersonal support. Parents encourage and help their adult children by providing financial assistance and childcare, and children care for their elderly parents by providing emotional support, financial subsidies, and physical help.”

Find more insight about the campign on Alibaba’s official news channel.

Here's an explainer video about how Taobao works:

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