A new target market for Chinese short-video platforms: the “Silver generation”

The “Silver generation” in China

Today’s generation of Chinese consumers who are 60 years and older are more comfortable with modern technology and open to embracing new experiences, products and luxury goods.

Trends also indicate that this demographic is experiencing a growth in purchasing power, while enjoying more free time. Today’s most frequent users of China’s popular social media app WeChat is also dominated by this age group, who use 80 percent of their cell phone data on the app, compared to just 6.8 percent by millennials.

China’s senior-related industries are worth almost $450 billion and is expected to double by 2021.

Despite this burgeoning consumer segment, only 8 percent of China’s silver generation feel relevantly targeted by marketing and advertising campaigns.

There’s a huge opportunity for brands and industries like travel and insurance, simply due to the sheer volume of potential customers.

Silver generation and short-video platforms

A large number of middle-aged and senior Influencers with the label of “fashion and talent” are occupying short video platforms by creating a huge contrast with age.

In fact, meanwhile on the one hand there are the Millennials and Generation Z who adore these short video platforms and use them to dance, jump, lip-sync, and even produce comedy skits. On the other hand there is the “Silver Generation” that is emerging and dominating these platforms.

These apps were mostly playgrounds for people born in the 1990s and later. However, the situation is changing and brands should adapt their marketing strategies to this new trend to reach these consumers.

There is no age for short videos or being a Kols

“Silver generation” influencers are constantly emerging, and a group of middle-aged and senior influencers with tens of millions of fans have grown up in Douyin.

A large number of active middle-aged and senior accounts were registered in the second half of 2019. In a short period of half a year, a group of short videos with middle-aged and senior people as the main body of creation became a trend and competed with young people for short video bonuses.

MCN (Multi Channel Network) have already perceived this huge and potential economic and started to hatch middle-aged and senior Influencers.

When Li Jiaqi and Viya rely on live-streaming to become top influencers, live-streaming is also a new game being tried by middle-aged and senior users. Finding another “Li Jiaqi” among middle-aged and seniors is an important mission for MCN’s.

Douyin “Silver generation” KOLs

Douyin 抖 音, the Chinese counterpart of Tik Tok, is a short video app that has made a lot of talk in China. It is used by users to scroll through fun mini-videos. Its linear and direct communication, in fact, captures users and holds them in front of the screen longer than other platforms.

It has often proved to be a strategic ally for international brands present in China because thanks to its original content it contributes to increasing brand awareness of brands and gaining consumer confidence.

Most companies have focused, in their marketing strategy for Douyin, for a group of specific consumers, the Millennials. However, now that the silver generation is becoming a potential and fruitful consumer, how to create a specific marketing strategy for this group?

Before answering this question, let’s see together some examples of silver generation KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) on Douyin.

KOLs have the ability to “influence” the masses in their decisions, thus being able to lead to the purchase of a particular product in place of another. They are figures that have become fundamental for the various companies for the launch of products, brands, or services offered.

Their use is particularly important as influencer marketing in China, where this sort of enormous trust placed in individuals is most present, therefore able to suddenly increase the sales of certain goods (even luxury) in a very short time.

Douyin: extra generational?

Regarding the “Silver Generation” KOLs below you will find two examples of influencers on Douyin.

  • “Grandma Wang, who only wears high-heeled shoes” (只穿高跟鞋的汪奶奶) has gained more than 14 million followers on Douyin after 6 months from its first short video of dress-up released on November 2019. Filming of the funny daily video “I’m Grandma Tian” (我 是 田 姥姥) reached 16.08 million. On the first day of becoming a sales influencer, “Grandma Wang who only wore high heels” sold 4.7 million in sales. After three live-streaming sessions, the sales exceeded 10 million.
  • In 2018, fashion grandfather “Uncle Mona” (末那 大叔) started using Douyin and has already become an influencer with millions of fans.

How to market your brand for this group of consumers?

The “Silver generation is a new opportunity for brands

The purchasing power of Chinese seniors remains largely under-exploited by companies.

Wang Jiyong, vice-chairman of the Chinese Senior Industry Association (CSIA) said that “the senior market is worth more than 170 billion renminbi (around 28 billion dollars in 2015), but the products that are addressing this market today are only worth 120 billion”, which represented, in 2015, an untapped opportunity of around 8 billion dollars.

Therefore this market could be a huge opportunity for brands due to the few presences of market competitors.

Volkswagen is one of the few Western brands that were able to efficiently target seniors with a commercial for its Beetle, showing elderlies imitating teenagers.

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.

Marketers should not hesitate to use the Internet and social networks to engage with the older generations, since these days, they are more and more connected.

Chinese “Silver generation” consumers behavior

Chinese senior citizen’s consumption is distinctly different from the consumption of the younger generation. Most of the senior population in China hold the traditional opinion that it is important not to spend frivolously. They are more careful about their purchase decision. Thus, marketing to the seniors in China is different from marketing to the younger generation.

These 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.

With a rising disposable income and improved economy, the spending pattern of the elderly generation changed from traditional frugality to enjoyment. China’s senior population are more likely to spend money on these four areas:

  1. Leisure and exercise
  2. Fashion and beauty
  3. Healthcare products
  4. Care services/goods

Increase brand awareness on social media platforms


Due to the fact that, China’s elderly population is now the most frequent users of the country’s top social media app WeChat. Increase your brand awareness and marketing on Wechat is a huge opportunity for your brand.

WeChat, in Chinese Weixin, is one of the big players in the ecosystem of Chinese social networks. This year, it was confirmed as the most used messaging app in China. This thanks to a number of daily users of 1.1 billion and the presence of 1.5 million brands.

Its users spend 30% of their time on the Internet, and it is not difficult to imagine why. Born as a simple App to chat with your acquaintances, it has long integrated typical functions of social networks and e-commerce.

Increase brand awareness on short-video platforms

As short-videos are becoming popular with the elderly, companies should focus their marketing strategies on these platforms. The best platforms for the “Silver generation” are Douyin and iQiyi. Since we’ve already talked about Douyin, let’s focus on iQiyi


The increasing engagement of Chinese elderly online, as well as their openness to using new media technology, arose the online video platform iQiyi’s interest to adequately target seniors consumers and capitalise on China’s short video boom through the launch of its short video app Jinshi (锦视).

Jinshi’s app focuses on topics of interests for the older generation such as politics, health, and the military. The main features of the app are similar to Douyin, users can like, share and comment on videos. Additionally to Douyin, Jinshi provides extra features such as easy swiping, cleaner user interface, the possibility to feature horizontal videos, and switch between video and audio streams, making the app more enjoyable to use for seniors.

Sell your products on Taobao

Taobao (淘宝网) is a Chinese online shopping website, headquartered in Hangzhou, and owned by Alibaba. It is the world’s biggest e-commerce website and the eighth most visited website.

It released its customised “Taobao for Elders” app to specifically target senior consumers. The app provides a simpler design with larger text display and a selection of products that cater to mature users, thus facilitating their online shopping experience.

The senior-friendly version of the popular e-commerce site aims to make it easier for over-60s to pay for products online, offering a peer-to-peer chat function and a “pay for me” link that customers can send to family and friends.

gma agency

Do you want to know more about How to market your brand for the “Silver generation” in China? Contact GMA a digital marketing agency, specialized in Chinese digital market.

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