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Online websites target growing aging population (2)

(China Daily)

09:17, December 18, 2012

Yu's new hobby forms part of the growing business of Chinese e-commerce sites that previously largely ignored the nation's aging population. A recent report released by showed that by October more than 1.75 million Chinese seniors (defined as aged above 50) have shopped using the website and 1.3 million successfully negotiated the entire payment process alone.

Female shoppers outnumber men. Seniors in Shanghai appear to be the most active in the nation, accounting for about 10 percent of the total population, with Beijing coming next. Apparel tops are the most popular item for senior online shoppers. Nearly 9 million items of clothing have been purchased on taobao in 2012.

"Clothes account for most of my spending online," said Yu, complaining that most malls and fashion outlets in the city are "built for her daughter's generation".

"The senior market is like an untapped goldmine," said Yao Jianfang, a researcher at the Hangzhou-based China E-commerce Research Center.

"Although the current (senior online shopping) population seems to be the tip of the iceberg compared with the total number of online users in China, who number 500 million, what cannot be neglected is that the whole iceberg is getting old and becoming potential customers of the market."

By the end of 2011, the number of people aged 60 and above was 190 million, accounting for 14 percent of the total population, according to the China National Committee on Aging. By 2013, the number is likely to exceed 200 million and, by 2050, it will account for one-third of the national population.

Zheng Jiaqing, the founder of, one of the earliest online shopping websites targeting the senior market in China, sees the market as a "dormant volcano that will erupt sooner or later".

"Since we built the website in 2009, both the transaction scale and the visitor numbers have grown very quickly. In addition, there are more and more seniors completing the whole shopping process by themselves," said Zheng, whose website cooperates with more than 1,500 suppliers.

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