Like many Chinese, Xu Chang browses e-commerce websites on his mobile phone every day, chats with friends on wechat, and uses goldmaps to navigate the roads of Beijing. When the cold snap hit, he stayed at home and ordered takeout through the delivery app.
But Xu Chang is not a millennial generation. He is an 80 year old retired man. Five years ago, after reading an article about Alibaba founder Ma Yun and his e-commerce Empire, Xu Chang couldnt help downloading Alibabas Taobao app. Im curious about whats in Taobao, Xu recalled. Since then, he has tried to use a variety of apps, and now there are 64 apps installed on his smartphone.
Mobile apps make my life easier, Xu said. I also learned a lot of new things, he said, referring to his discovery of various products on Taobao and his reading of various stories in the news aggregation application, where the speed of news release is far faster than that of TV in the past.
These apps not only make Xu Changs life more enjoyable, but also enable him to help others. Some of my friends are too old to go shopping, so I do online shopping for them and send the goods to their home, he said
Relevant statistics show that by 2018, Chinas population aged 65 and above has reached 166.6 million. The rapid digital transformation once worried that many elderly people might not be able to adapt to the new technology and may be behind the times. China currently has more than 4 million applications, but few of them are dedicated to the elderly.
However, there is evidence that the elderly in China are not alienated by digitalization. Instead, like Xu Chang, they are embracing new technologies.
Tang Yanhang, an empty nest old man living in Changchun, is a good example. Living far away from her daughter, Tang Yanhang used to need to go home alone with a heavy shopping bag. But after learning how to use the e-commerce app in 2017, the 64 year old is only shopping online, waiting for the courier to deliver the goods to him. Its really convenient, she said.
According to a report released by Tencent last January, about 63 million people aged 55 and over use wechat in China. Although the figure sounds impressive, less than 6% of wechat monthly active users are Chinese seniors. In another study, Tencent pointed out that about half of the 800 elderly Chinese surveyed in 2017 used wechat payment or other electronic wallets. The proportion of the elderly who have online shopping or online consultation experience is relatively low.
Some companies have realized the opportunity of white hair economy and designed and developed products for the elderly market. Alibaba recently began training its smart speakers to understand dialects, so that older people can use their home dialect to control appliances. How to do online shopping and other courses have also entered the curriculum of many universities for the elderly. In Ningbo, the local government announced last year that they will help at least 20000 elderly people learn to use smartphones by 2021.
Source: Wang Fengzhi, editor in charge of Netease Technology Report