Ogilvy Mather urges marketers not to ignore China's senior citizens

Mainland China’s 143 million senior citizens, a group larger than the entire population of Russia, have been largely left out of mainstream marketing and communications efforts, despite a combined annual income of between 300-400 billion renminbi. “Embracing Change, Realizing Dreams,” the latest study by Ogilvy & Mather Greater China’s consumer insight and trends unit Discovery, takes an empathetic view of their lives, their views about the changes in Chinese society over the last 20 years, how they have adapted to change and embraced modernity, and attempts to understand the relevance of various products and services to this demographic segment which is forecast to grow by 3% every year, doubling by 2025.

Combining ethnographic and quantitative methods, Ogilvy Discovery launched the study in March 2008 in the megalopolises of Beijing and Shanghai, the relatively big city of Chengdu and Foshan, a small town in Guangdong province. Responses were collected in equal proportions from 1,100 men and women between the ages of 60-75, and 12 seniors in Beijing, Chengdu and Foshan were filmed over two days each. The 52-minute documentary and photo CD that accompany this release are available upon request.

O&M says the findings have strategic business implications for brands in obvious sectors such as healthcare but also for travel and leisure, financial services, technology, food and beverage and retail brands.

“We invested in this research because we realize that the more we understand about Chinese consumers and the Chinese market as a whole, the more effective and culturally sensitive our campaigns will be,” said Shenan Chuang, CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Group China. “We wanted to take a forward-looking approach to this topic because we believe seniors are an often overlooked demographic that is vital to the future success of many of our clients’ businesses in China.”

“As the per capita spending power of senior citizens is expected to rise from US$1,620 in 2005 to US$4,112 in 2015, it is imperative that companies understand what drives their needs, aspirations, and ultimately purchase decisions,” said Chuang.

“Brands, corporations and government agencies can either choose to treat aging as a problem, or they can view the optimism and adaptation capacity of this generation as an opportunity,” added Sinha.

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