The caveat is, the current middle class growth story is the short-term view, and businesses may need to change tactics down the road. Falling marriage and birth rates in China, along with a decades-long one-child policy, are creating a population that is aging at a far more rapid pace than the U.S.
Yi Fuxian, a critic of the one-child policy and author of the book “Big Country With an Empty Nest,” pointed out that in 1980, the median age of a person in China was 22, versus 30 in the U.S. By 2018, the median age of an American climbed to 38, but that of a Chinese person was two years older.
That has serious implications for future ratio of laborers to retirees, Yi noted.
As a result, some companies are already preparing for greater demand in health care and retirement, areas in which public support is less developed than the U.S.
In August, Ping An Good Doctor announced the launch of its “Private Doctor” platform that uses technology to connect users with experienced doctors in real time. Elderly patients can also use the system to make appointments, get escorted to a medical consultation and collect medicine, according to the company.
Ping An Good Doctor announced this week that the number of registered users on its online health care platform overall has topped 300 million.
Separately, Ant Fortune, a subsidiary of Alibaba-affiliate Ant Financial, launched a five-year partnership with Fidelity last year to study how aware and prepared Chinese are for retirement. While the private sector’s participation in national retirement plans remains limited right now, Ant said last week it is ready to jump in once government policy allows.
“This is why, for Ant, retirement planning is our strategic direction,” Guoming Zu, vice president, wealth management business group, Ant Financial, told reporters last week in Mandarin at a press event. He also noted that the idea of retirement investing needs to expand, since many people in China tend to look beyond themselves to consider how to help their parents and children save for the future.
At the same time, like other parts of the world, government reports showed the number of singles in China surpassed 222 million at the end of 2017, or about 15% of the population.
For a country that, as some have observed, highly values the traditional family, the alacrity at which its people are choosing new ways of living has significant social and business implications. It is, however, increasingly clear that it may be remiss to discuss the global market solely in terms of Facebook or Amazon, when WeChat claims more than 1 billion users alone.
Chinese parents spend big on education and travel – CNBC