The number of users on Alibaba’s e-commerce marketplace Taobao who have linked their accounts with those of their relatives spiked in December, the company said, as Spring Festival becomes an increasingly important event for Chinese consumption.

Why it matters: The surges presents an array of opportunities, allowing the company to expand penetration among older user segments to tap into China’s “silver economy” and gain insights from household spending data.

  • The account bonding is usually initiated by adult children to help less tech-savvy parents or grandparents with account set-up and mobile payment.

Details: The number of Taobao users who bind their accounts to those of their relatives surged 42% year on year beginning late December, according to the company.

  • Along with account linkage, the company said conversations through in-app family chat windows became very active as well.
  • Spring Festival couplet banners, traditional Tang-era costumes, and robotic vacuum cleaners are replacing snacks and nuts, healthcare products, and down jackets as the most popular products on the shopping platform.
  • The report also included payment statistics about the app’s “pay-for-me” feature: 48% of the feature’s users pay for goods selected by their wives’ parents compared with 33% of the feature’s users who pay for goods for their husband’s parents. A total of 65% of the feature’s users pay for goods selected through their wives’ accounts, while 31% pay for products selected by their parents.

Context: Taobao launched the “Family Accounts” feature in in February 2018, allowing users to bind their accounts to those of their relatives.

  • Once accounts are linked, family members can help with account set-up, pay for each others’ items, and send product links to one another through the chat feature.
  • Taobao reported that a total of 12 million users had bound their spouse’s account to their own as of Valentines Day 2019. Around half of couples were born post-1990.
  • Consumption during the week-long holiday is expected to reach RMB 1.10 trillion in 2020, making Spring Festival China’s largest consumption event, according to Iimedia Research.
  • The number of individuals over 60 years old is expected to exceed 255 million by 2020 in China—up from 230 million in 2016, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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