Editor’s note: Maxwell Wang is founder of qualitative marketing research firm RESEARCHISM, China. 

While ample research has been conducted on young consumers, the same focus doesn’t seem to apply to discerning senior consumers. Indeed, it often seems we lack both patience and authentic curiosity when it comes to understanding this demographic segment. Rarely are senior individuals presented or discussed from a perspective of true empathy.

So, what’s the prevailing perception of seniors? Are they only seen as a dull demographic – despite their significant purchasing power? 

Our research centered around this group of senior consumers in China revealed some intriguing insights. In this article, I will explore their struggles and behaviors, and in doing so expose their often misunderstood mind-sets and uncharted business opportunities.

During our research, we observed that it’s a common belief that seniors prefer traditional shopping over online alternatives. This, however, isn’t because they lack the capability for online shopping. On the contrary, many seniors have e-commerce apps on their phones and are adept at placing orders. Nevertheless, they do lean more toward brick-and-mortar shopping experiences.

The general reasoning implies that seniors value tangible experiences and are uncomfortable with virtual shopping. This is a valid interpretation, but only scratches the surface.

Unlike younger digital natives, seniors weren’t born into the internet era. They’ve spent decades in an acquaintance society where interactions with neighbors and friends outweigh distant relationships. This leads them to value relationships with vendors as opposed to simply the products they sell.

While younger generations might chase efficiency and appreciate attaining emotional benefits directly from products, seniors value emotional connections provided by more intangible services – a warm greetin...