The old can be blinded by false sheen of silver economy

By Yan Yunming Source:Global Times Published: 2019/12/20 19:38:40

Photo: IC

My grandmother is a typical old Chinese woman - very frugal, in particular unwilling to spend money on herself. But she has been recently obsessed with TV commercials, with plenty of them including those for healthcare products, clothing, shoes, and even kitchen supplies targeting the aged.

One of the commodities that specially attracted my grandma was a pair of shoes, being advertised as suitable for senior people as they are abrasive and skid resistant, made of breathable material and capable of absorbing shock. 

In the advert, several old men share their experience among themselves and a celebrity widely popular among the old also sings praises of the product. Moreover, the "amazing" shoes are extremely cheap - less than 100 yuan ($14) for a pair. No wonder my prudent grandma is happy to pay for them.

Finding TV advertisements untrustworthy, I was afraid that my grandmother had bought a pig in a poke. After some online research, I was surprised to find that the pair she bought was only one of dozens of brands with such exaggerated claims, and nearly half of such shoes "specially designed for the old" on the market were unsuitable for use. 

According to a test carried out in October by a consumer protection commission alliance in the Yangtze River Delta covering East China's Jiangsu Province, Anhui Province, Zhejiang Province, and Shanghai Municipality, among 80 samples of shoes specially designed for the old, 14 came unglued, and another 20 showed poor performance.

The result is shocking. If the old purchase such inferior shoes, they not only waste money, but also face the risk of foot injuries and more serious consequences if they fall down.

As China's population ages fast, the silver economy has become a buzzword in Chinese society. Shown by data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, as of the end of 2018, the country's population aged 60 years and above was 249.5 million, accounting for 17.9 percent of the total. 

It is the size of the aging population that has driven the silver economy. In 2018, the scale of China's silver economy exceeded 3.7 trillion yuan ($0.5 trillion). And a blue paper published by Chinese Academy of Social Sciences estimates that by 2050, consumption by old people in China will increase to 61.26 trillion yuan ($8.75 trillion).

The silver economy does hold enormous market potential. But some producers only care about profits and neglect quality. Like the footwear, quite a few products are hurting old people's interests. By targeting what will move the aged to purchase, some unscrupulous merchants are fleecing old people in the garb of meeting their needs. 

It is time that problems hidden in the silver economy are brought to the forefront. Relevant administrative departments need to introduce management regulations in greater details, strictly investigate and punish acts violating the consumer rights of the elderly, and ensure that they are not taken for a ride while shopping. 

Besides, young people should also pay more attention to seniors' purchases. By spending more time accompanying them, we can better understand their physical and mental needs, preventing them from falling prey to false advertising claims and fraudulent sellers.

It is fortunate that my grandma has not yet been harmed by the shoes or any other product she bought. She is now travelling with my mom wearing a pair of shoes from a renowned brand I bought for her. It is hoped my grandmother, and every old person like her, can stay away from harm's way forever.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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