We take a look back at some of the trends in tech, digital and marketing in China from the start of the year.

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Seniors are the next market to look out for in China

Seniors – defined as those 60 years and older – are the fastest growing generational group in China. With over 170 million people and growing every day, this is a group that is comfortable with using technology and remain open to new experiences.

For marketers and retailers, these savvy seniors have a few key characteristics, as detailed by Jing Daily:

1. A second lease of life: With a hectic working life behind them, these seniors are now looking to balance maximizing enjoyment of their newfound leisure and providing support to their children (such as caring for grandchildren). Brands should consider providing relevant content and being a pillar of support.

2. Maintaining health: Seniors are pursuing a healthier lifestyle. The sheer amount of conflicting information on healthy living is reason enough for brands to offer authoritative advice.

3. Seeking meaningful socialization opportunities: Increased leisure time means seniors are now able to spend more time with friends and family. Brands could take a lead in creating opportunities for seniors to develop greater attachments to friends and family. Social shopping platform Pinduoduo may provide a way of combining social interaction with commerce.

4. Open to using technology: Brands should make it easy for seniors to utilize technology – one way is to get them involved. TikTok, a short-form video platform, saw a sharp increase of videos featuring youths asking seniors for red packets over the Chinese Lunar New Year.

More Chinese buying luxury products at home, but Millennials may cut back on spending

According to a report by Bain & Co, half of global luxury spending will be in China by 2025. Chinese consumers made up 33% of the global luxury market in 2018, with expectations that it would rise to 50% by 2025.

Millennials aged between 23 and 28 were the most willing to spend on luxury items to keep up with trends. Novelty was a more important factor than price, making cultivating brand loyalty a significant challenge, and 57% of respondents indicated that they could draw on funds from parents to keep up with the Joneses.

Digitalization is a large driver of luxury sales in China, with luxury brands allocating increasing budgets to digital marketing platforms and often marketplaces such as Alibaba or JD.com. These ecosystems are largely omnichannel, with digital campaigns aiming to drive consumers into physical stores.

WeChat falling back on a tried and tested gaming strategy

WeChat has opened its mini games platform to developers worldwide. In China, WeChat is an essential tool for… well, pretty much everything. But outside of China, WeChat has not been particularly successful. The international version did not include any of the features that made it a phenomenal success in China, including the ability to make payments or hail a ride.

To get users to download and use the app, WeChat is falling back on its parent company’s Tencent expertise in games. Right now, the available games are largely in Mandarin but only two developers outside of China have built games for the platform. Google’s Guess My Sketch is a game where players doodle everyday objects and Google’s AI will attempt to guess what it is. (More from The Verge)

Smartphone apps have notoriously high turnover rates, with 24% of users deleting apps after just one use. Even with the prospect of mini games, WeChat must move quickly to introduce features that would draw international users to it.

Read more about WeChat in Econsultancy’s Brand Strategy Report.

Queen’s Day continues

International Women’s Day – 8 March – has for the last couple of years been branded as “Queen’s Day” in China as an opportunity to indulge in shopping for oneself. In 2017, Tmall, one of China’s largest ecommerce portals, unveiled a tagline – “Live your beauty” – for its 5-day shopping extravaganza (More from Quartz).

Brands jumped on the bandwagon this year. Calvin Klein showcased a diverse group of Asian women challenging Asian gender norms: the campaign features transgender model Anjali Lama and Japanese filmmaker Shiori Ito, among others, who discuss their identities and how they face down obstacles and pressures as women.

Calvin Klein’s campaign comes on the back of notable Western brands whose campaigns have sparked controversy over propagating hackneyed stereotypes of Chinese culture and misrepresenting the festive tone of the Chinese Lunar New Year.

While Western brands clearly still have much to learn in terms of communicating to the Chinese, Calvin Klein is taking a brave but tentative first step in bringing the spirit of the #MeToo movement to China.