China’s Silver Generation is Marketing Gold

People over the age of 55 buy more than one third of all products in China.

They have more money and savings to spend than any other group.

They are brand loyal and are less distracted than younger consumers.

They are featured in some of the most popular and engaging digital content.

Why are brands spending so little time and money on this attractive “Silver Generation”?

Why are marketing managers afraid to target them or use them in campaigns?

The Silver target market is the most profitable and fastest growing segment in China and should be a core focus for many brands in China.

PBB helps its clients identify attractive target audiences and brand messages. We believe that the following information will inspire brands to more actively consider addressing this attentive, open-minded and affluent group.

55 + consumers are traditionally very loyal, and more likely to become active brand fans. They enjoy social media, reviewing products, writing comments and sharing product content with friends and family. “China’s elderly population are now the most frequent users of the country’s top social media app WeChat, with over-60s using 80 percent of their cell data on WeChat as opposed to just 6.8 percent by the 18 to 35-year-old generation”. In the US, over 60% of all Twitter users are over 35 years old and 28% are over 55. Additionally, over 55% of all Facebook users are over 35 and over 21% are over 55.

Many brands are caught in outdated brand value relationships connected to rigged youth and beauty standards that are no longer relevant for their target consumers. Especially when brands hope to attract above average income and education consumers in China’s tier 1 and tier 2 cities, they need to reflect fluid racial, sexual, and age diversity trends. The generic happy young couple or fashionable young insider is no longer effective for premium brand marketing campaigns. Presenting over 50-year-old models in a fashionable and fun creative direction can have a high level of engagement with both young and old consumers.

China's silver generation - ROLEX MAGAZINE, LOUIS VUITTON SPRING 2014, OLAY TOTAL EFFECT

SOURCES: ROLEX MAGAZINE, LOUIS VUITTON SPRING 2014, OLAY TOTAL EFFECT

Not all brands have missed the Silver Generation opportunity. L’Oreal, Covergirl, Olay and Dove have all benefited from marketing to and with the Silver Generation. In addition to beauty brands, there are many other consumer brands that have successfully addressed the Silver Generation. Many are using models and celebrities over the age of 55 for example AT&T with “Senior Plan”, Johnnie Walker with “The Gentleman’s Wager”, Dos Equis with “The Most Interesting Man Alive”, Catherine Deneuve for Louis Vuitton, Brad Pitt for Chanel, Johnny Depp for Dior, and Cameron Dell’orefice for Rolex.

L’Oréal research revealed that 70% of women aged over 55 said they felt invisible in society. 87% reported they were not represented in advertising and 81% also said they felt unacknowledged by major retailers (MarketLine, 2018). These women represent a missed opportunity for brands looking to increase both revenue and market shares.

SUCCESSFUL SILVER CASE STUDIES:

China's silver generation - ROLEX, MANDARIN ORIENTAL, LUQUAN ZHONGJIN JEWELRY

SOURCES: ROLEX, MANDARIN ORIENTAL, LUQUAN ZHONGJIN JEWELRY

ROLEX- CAMERON DELL’OREFICE

Cameron Dell’orefice remains the oldest working model in the world. She was 78 years old when she modeled for Rolex in 2009 with the caption “Class is Forever”. Critics considered it to be a both edgy and sophisticated campaign.

JIANYIREN- ANGIE CHIU

Angie Chiu, a 64-year-old actress, models for Jianyiren, a honey wine brand. She is referred to in advertisements as a “goddess”, even though she is 64. She is not old, she is gorgeous.

LILANZ- CHEN DAOMING

With the slogan, “Less is Fashion” Chen Daoming, a 64-year-old actor, models for the men’s fashion brand Lilanz. Their target audience is 32-45-year-old urban professional business men.

SAMSONITE- CHEN DAOMING

In 2013, Samsonite selected Chen Daoming to become the first Chinese endorser for their high-end leather luggage. Samsonite’s target audience is the 30 something worldly traveler, which happens to take up a large sum of Chen Daoming’s fan base.

MANDARIN ORIENTAL HOTEL GROUP

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group uses many celebrities in their “Our Celebrity Fans” campaign. This includes several 50 plus celebrities such as Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman, Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung, and Christoph Waltz.

China's silver generation - Wang Deshun - NEW YORK TIMES

SOURCE: NEW YORK TIMES

In 2015, Wang Deshun became a model at the age 82 and is now hailed as the hottest grandpa in China. He started out with a love performing arts and in the 1980s, he began teaching runway modeling. In 1993 Wang Deshun appeared on stage, mostly naked with metallic body art. Because of this, he was barred by the Chinese authorities and decided to perform privately. In 2018, during the Hu Sheguang’s Beijing fashion show, Wang Deshun appeared bare chested and fans nicknamed him “laoxianrou”, meaning “old fresh meat”. YouTube videos featuring Wang Deshun have had over 70,000 views and there are over 195,000 searches on google about Wang Deshun.

It’s not enough to show attractive older models looking great. Brands should reflect the fascinating lifestyles and amazing achievements of senior key opinion leaders. Is staying young the only experience that brands can offer the Silver Generation? At PBB, we like to look at the hopes and fears of target audiences to find insights that can help our clients differentiate their brands and address the specific needs of their target audience that are forgotten or neglected.

Through our research, loneliness and isolation came up as a growing fear for the Silver Generation as well as twenty somethings. Social media and smartphones have removed seniors from interactions with their families. This has driven both groups to use more gaming and dating apps. Big city lifestyle and working hours for both men and women are making it more difficult for young and old people to connect.

Han Zicheng - THE STRAITS TIMES

SOURCES: THE STRAITS TIMES, NEWS WEEK, THE INDEPENDENT, SEATTLE TIMES, DAILY MAIL

Mr. Han Zicheng is an 85-year-old grandfather who felt lonely because his wife had passed away, his children were out of reach, and his neighbors had their own families. He put up flyers asking to be adopted. The flyer read “Lonely old man in his 80s. Strong-bodied. Can shop, cook and take care of himself. No chronic illness. I retired from a scientific research institute in Tianjin, with a monthly pension of 6,000 yuan ($1,257) a month.” He said that his greatest fear is that he will die in bed and won’t be found until all that is left is his bones. This self-adoption became an internet sensation with posts on The Strait Times, News Week, The Independent, Seattle Times, Daily Mail, and Yahoo. There are over 290,000 search results on Google underlining the relevance of seniors to broad digital audiences.

Scams involving elderly women and fake lovers have received significant coverage and comments from news outlets in China, Europe, and the United States. Incidents in Hong Kong have been particularly popular with social media and international news outlets. The Silver Generation are a source of inspiration and sympathy and can be used as a source of engagement for brands.

How can brand assess this fear and help the Silver Generation get more attention and feel more needed? Our Answer: Listen to them.

Brands can find creative ways to listen to their consumers. Brands have created programs and campaigns before to have more interactions with their consumers and listen more to their needs and stories, and they have been very effective. We believe this approach can be even more successful with the Silver Generation.

AIRBNB

SOURCE: AIRBNB

AIRBNB

Seniors are “Airbnb’s fastest growing and most loved demographic”. Airbnb has successfully harnessed the art of storytelling, by intelligently using the stories of their customers. Airbnb has a page on their website called “Stories from the Airbnb Community”. Customers who want to go the extra mile on their reviews and tell their stories about their experiences can talk with an Airbnb representative and write an amazing story.

Tessa, a member of the Silver Generation, presented her story with only a single paragraph. Her story about why she hosts is emotional and compelling. Loyal Airbnb customers, Debbie and Michael Campbell call themselves “Senior Nomads”. They “have visited 70 countries and have spent more than 1,500 nights in 178 Airbnb homes” (Airbnb).

From Guest, to Host, to Experiencer, the Silver Generation has been a huge demographic focus for Airbnb. The Airbnb brand loves their Silver Community and embraces advertising with them. Using them to produce fresh content featuring family moments, joyful adventures, and fun.

China's silver generation - UBER CHANNEL YOUTUBE

SOURCE: UBER CHANNEL YOUTUBE

UBER

Uber is another example of a brand loving their elderly demographic. In an Uber created YouTube video starring June (86), Yolanda (69) and Elizabeth (77), experiences with Uber and how it is more convenient and reliable than driving themselves or asking their families for assistance are discussed. Uber is reliable and safe for the elderly community and through this video, they present this via active elderly women who enjoy going out. This video was one of the top viewed videos within the Uber YouTube channel.

Listening and being proactive is essential for brands who want to communicate with the Silver Generation. Connecting and sharing stories with senior customers is crucial to give them a good experience that they will share with their friends and family. The silver generation is the fastest growing demographic in the world and is willing to spend their money on premium brands and services. They are loyal and respected and deserve more attention from your brand. We hope you will start a discussion with PBB about this Silver Opportunity.

SOURCES:

SILVER GENERATION STATISTICS AND INFORMATION

https://www.eastwestbank.com/ReachFurther/en/News/Article/Chinas-Silver-Generation

Has-Money-and-Time-to-Spend

https://www.globalchinainsights.nl/articles/playing-the-silver-hair-card

https://jingdaily.com/china-silver-generation/

Market Line Theme Report: Reference code: ML00026-017

Debbie and Michael Campbell’s story

Senior Nomads Travel Down Under as Their Adventures Take Them to Australia and New Zealand

The link for the Uber video is here.

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