“Silver-haired surfers” bring momentum to China’s biggest shopping tour


For Cao Li, starting the day shopping for vegetables online on her cell phone is part of everyday life, as some e-commerce platforms offer daily discounts.

The 65-year-old pensioner started her “Internet journey” more than 10 years ago under the guidance of her daughter.

“For example, radishes cost over 6 yuan (94 US cents) per kilo in supermarkets, while they cost 4 yuan per kilo when purchased online with delivery service,” said Cao.

Shortly before “Double 11”, China’s largest annual online shopping spree, which takes place on November 11th each year, Tang Caixia, 55, grabbed two vouchers online for a five-star hotel in the suburbs of Beijing. They do not expire before the end of the next year and can be refunded at any time.

Nowadays, more and more seniors in China have become “silver-haired surfers” who, like Cao and Tang, are enthusiastic about online shopping and are boosting the “silver hair economy”.

According to a report from JD.com, one of the leading e-commerce platforms in China, online shopping sales of older Internet users increased 4.8 times over the previous year in the first three quarters of 2021 hairs “an important one Growth driver for the country’s consumer market.

The report shows that more and more older people are consuming electronic products, everyday necessities, and travel and health services such as physical checks online.

With this in mind, Taobao, a huge online marketplace of the Alibaba Group, has launched an “older version” prior to “Double 11” with a simplified user interface and enlarged graphics and words.

In addition to being consumers, some seniors are also live streaming to sell goods.

An Internet user with the pseudonym “High Heels Grandma Wang” has more than 15 million followers on a short video platform and sells skin care products and disinfectants; Tante You Fan, with millions of followers, shares her dance and workout videos, and her powdered milk advertising site has attracted around 30,000 likes.

“There are large numbers of the elderly, and providing quality Internet services to the elderly can create tremendous social value. It is indeed a ‘sunrise industry’ for e-commerce businesses,” said Li Yongjian, a researcher at the National Academy of Economic Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The 48th “Statistical Report on China’s Internet Development Status” by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) shows that by June 2021, the number of Internet users in China had reached 1.011 billion, of whom 28 percent were aged 28 and over.

The Chinese government attaches great importance to the “virtual life” of older people. The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the “Special Action Plan for Adapting Internet Applications and Improving Accessibility” at the end of last year, which will start a one-year project to adapt Internet applications and improve accessibility for the elderly from January 2021.

“The Internet has made it easier for seniors to shop and engage them more in social development, which has helped increase their happiness,” said Li.


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