The brand opportunity among Chinese influencers over 50
In China, a local named Kangkang started posting short videos on the social accounts nicknamed “Kangkang and grandfather” at the end of 2019. Each one presents only the streetwear outfits of his 84-year-old grandfather. Grandfather Kang had previously retired from his university teaching career and found himself trying to occupy his time at his home in Wuhan. Today, they have around 3 million subscribers on social platforms in China and have worked with sports brands like Adidas, Lining and Anta. “I am an elderly person, but that does not mean that I am out of touch with society. I want to evolve over time, ”said Grandfather Kang, who chose not to disclose his real name.
In China, there have been a growing number of senior influencers on popular social platforms, including Douyin and Little Red Book. On the latter platform, a user of the “Miss Tracy” account often posts about her grandmother’s casual outfits, which resulted in them both being exploited by Kate Spade for an infomercial in the issue of April 2021 from Elle China. Little Red Book also sees shares of fashion posts from senior non-Chinese influencers such as Asami Naito and Lyn slater (also known as “Accidental icon“), who are both around 70 years old. However, promising, gray-haired influencers have been largely overlooked by fashion and beauty brands.
The increase in the number of senior social app users and influencers in China has a lot to do with the growing number of gray-haired citizens. In China, 264 million people – more than the population of Brazil – are 60 years or older. This age group has experienced the fastest growing in the country over the past decade, according to recent study Seventh national population census published in May. The large population and government political support is a great driving force for the senior Chinese economy, which is expected to reach 5.7 trillion yuan ($ 880 billion) in 2021 with a compound annual growth rate of 15.2%, according to Chinese market research firm LeadLeo.
Having noticed the rise of the senior community, Douyin, the local version of TikTok, in March launched an “old friend” initiative to improve the user experience for senior users. One of the main things involved was recruiting older reps to work with Douyin’s product team on the app user experience.
There’s a good reason Douyin wants to hear their thoughts. “Douyin users who are above [age] 60 have higher engagement stats than young people. They made more than 600 million videos and received 40 billion likes in April, ”said a spokesperson for Douyin. Since its launch in 2016, Douyin’s daily active users reached 600 million last August. Luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, Prada and Cartier have launched Douyin accounts, driven by its wide influence with young users.
Image of Kangkang and grandfather
For Millennials and Gen Z audiences, senior influencers can be a source of inspiration and help ease their anxiety about aging. “So stylish! You are my role model,” wrote one Little Red Book user in an article featuring Japanese Naito. “I wish I could age as gracefully as you do,” commented another.
Kangkang and Grandpa Kang said that 80% of their subscribers are under 25 and almost all of the rest are under 40. “Our fans love my grandfather’s positive attitude about life,” Kangkang said.
Grandpa Kang is optimistic about eventually having more people his age as followers and fans. “What I wear is generally for young people, which may be unacceptable to some of my peers; it takes time to convert them, ”he said.
Ye Chen, Research Analyst at a China-based Business Intelligence and Solutions Provider ChemLinked, said older people in top-tier cities tend to spend more and future spending by older people is likely to increase, especially in the beauty category. “As the current generation of middle-aged people age, they may be less thrifty and more willing to spend, compared to previous generations,” she said.
In China, where the conversation about diversity in fashion and beauty has just started, only a few brands are leading the trend. DTC lingerie brand new York, for his part, used senior models in his campaigns and enlisted 51-year-old actress and singer Faye wong as a global ambassador last year. Chen, who specializes in the beauty industry, said local beauty brands, including Proya and Péchoin were marketed directly to middle-aged and senior users.
“The elderly trust products recommended by friends and acquaintances, and they are very loyal to the products,” Chen said. “Brands can use these characteristics to attract this group of consumers in their marketing messages. ”