Tencent’s social science research affiliate Society & Technology (S-Tech), together with a research team at Shenzhen University, has unveiled its latest study on WeChat’s senior users whose ages are over 55. The study looked into 3,051 senior samples collected from 956 families in 58 cities in China, showing the ageing population’s market potential and technology’s role in happiness building.

Samples from emerging cities and the study of potential

Among the 3,051 samples collected, only 9.72% were from first-tier cities.

The study says that 80% of those sampled between the ages of 55-59 use the app. The figure drops to 51.3% among the 60-69 age range. Higher willingness, higher education level, and younger age, all demonstrate a positive correlation with the use of WeChat.

Tencent’s study on (from top to bottom) age, monthly income (unit: RMB), and education level’s impact on the percentage of population in an age range to use WeChat. Image Credit: Tencent S-Tech 

The results also show that the major needs are still social communication. The average user had 104.28 WeChat friends and among them 23.1% family members. 95.8% of those know how to use voice call well.

Additionally, the group’s active use of subscription accounts and payment solutions may provide new opportunities. 74.5 % read subscription articles and 62.4% share them. Over 50% samples use WeChat payment functions including transfer. Inviting friends to exercise together via WeChat is another trend the study finds popular.

A comparative study on the percentage of users in an age group that use a specific WeChat function. Image Credit: Tencent S-Tech

WeChat and happiness

According to the study, WeChat has become an element that influences a senior’s sense of happiness.

The report suggests that users connected on WeChat and those with more WeChat friends tend to show a higher sense of happiness.

“Technology should be more inclusive,” Professor Zhou Yuqiong from Shenzhen University commented in the report. She added, “The population’s ageing trend is influencing the trend of technology. The senior’s needs deserve close attention before the design of a product.”

By October 2017, China has 241 million citizens older than 60, making up 17.3% of the country’s whole population. By September in the same year, active WeChat users older than 55 hit 50 million.

Business owners are aware of the potential shift the aging trend will bring and have started acting. In February 2018, Alibaba announced they would hire senior users over 60 to test user experience. The retail giant promised to offer an annual income of RMB 400,000 to qualified candidates, ambitiously eyeing senior’s retail and service markets. Tencent, this time, is leveraging its research power to prepare an inclusive ecosystem that integrates increasing senior’s both commercial potentials and social impacts.

Runhua Zhao is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Connect with her via email: runhuazhao@technode.com

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