Online shopping in China isn’t just for the young, according to a new survey. That could be good news for an already quickly growing e-commerce industry that largely caters to the young.
While the bulk of online shoppers are still in their 20s and 30s, a survey published Tuesday by data provider Nielsen said the number of online consumers aged 55 or older grew 72% between 2012 and 2013. It cited data from Taobao, one of China’s largest shopping websites, which is owned by Alibaba Group, though it didn’t release the underlying figures.
“China could become the world’s most aged society by 2030,” said Tao Libao, a Nielsen official with responsibility for e-commerce, in a prepared statement. “The elderly online consumers deserve more attention from both current online retailers and brick-and-mortar retailers who are going to venture online.” People aged over 60 could be 30% of China’s population by 2030, Mr. Tao said.
They survey said they tend to be more careful shoppers, attracted by easy price comparisons and special discounts given that they often have less income than younger people.
Online sales in China are jumped. They reached 1.85 trillion yuan ($297 billion) in 2013, up almost 30% from the previous year, Nielsen said, citing the China Internet Network Information Center, the country’s Internet administration agency. That would account for 7.9% of all retail sales in China last year.
Still, e-commerce companies are preparing for a time when growth slows by chasing new areas such as mobile phones and tablets. According to Nielsen’s data, desktop computers and laptops for still used by over 70% of people shopping online. In a filing with U.S. regulators on Monday ahead of what is expected to be a massive public offering, Alibaba cited spending to attract mobile users are one reason for a drop in operating margins during the quarter ended in March.
Consumers aged between 30 and 40 with a secure income are the biggest users of online shopping, Nielsen found. Some younger consumers are comfortable with the technology but constrained by income, while others are skeptical about the quality of goods bought online.
Read more at China Real Time.