China’s Gold Jewelry Market: Surging Demand Among Middle-Aged and Elderly Populations

World Gold Day – .

China’s Growing Jewelry Market in 2024


Despite the attention often given to China’s younger generations and their increasing affinity for gold jewelry, it is the middle-aged and elderly populations that are poised to significantly boost the market in 2024. Recent data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics shows a substantial 13.3% year-over-year increase in retail sales among domestic large-scale jewelry enterprises, totaling 331 billion RMB ($45.7 billion) in 2023. This rate of growth ranks as the second-highest among all consumer goods categories, trailing only behind the food and beverage segment.


The Rise of Jewelry Businesses


The continuous demand for jewelry, both for personal enjoyment and as an investment, has fueled the growth of new businesses in the sector. Currently, China is home to over 7.83 million jewelry-related companies, with more than 2.6 million registered between January and October 2023 alone, marking an 89.9% increase year-over-year.


Appeal Across Generations


Gold and silver jewelry attract consumers of all ages due to their personalized designs and value retention. However, older adults have consistently been the most reliable customer base. Nearly half of all jewelry consumers in China are middle-aged or elderly, according to the 2023 Jewelry Industry E-commerce Platform Report. The 2022 National Trend Jewelry Research Report further supports this, showing that about 41% of gold jewelry buyers in China belong to the middle-aged or older demographic.


Traditional Preferences in Jewelry


Older consumers in China typically prefer traditional designs in their jewelry, opting for pure gold or pearl items. “During weekdays, we often see retired ladies come in to inquire,” shared a jewelry store clerk in Wuhan during an interview with business consultancy AgeClub. “They have no special requirements for style, preferring traditional designs.”


Offline and Online Shopping Trends


While there has been a trend towards younger consumers in recent years, the older demographic remains a formidable buying force, especially in offline spaces. Middle-aged and elderly consumers tend to make their purchases during weekdays, contrasting with younger customers who favor online shopping and visit physical stores mainly ahead of holidays or special occasions.


Diverse Reasons for Purchasing Jewelry


Older consumers purchase jewelry for a variety of reasons, with self-wear accounting for 39% of retail revenue in the market, and gifting another 35%, according to the 2022 China Gold Jewelry Market Trend Insight Report. This demographic’s broad purchasing motivations contrast with younger consumers, who typically buy significant amounts of gold and silver jewelry for major life events like weddings or the birth of children.


Transition from Offline to Online


The transition to online shopping has been hastened by the pandemic, with e-commerce accounting for more than 10% of jewelry sales in China by 2022, a significant rise from around 1.2% in 2012. Last year, China’s jewelry e-commerce sales surged by 40.3% year-over-year, reaching RMB 339.8 billion ($46.9 billion). Notably, Chow Tai Fook, an early adopter of e-commerce among Hong Kong jewelers, reported that exclusive online collections constituted 57% of the company’s e-commerce revenue in the first half of 2022.


Vulnerabilities in the Digital Space


Unfortunately, the shift to digital has also made older consumers vulnerable to fraud and overspending. There have been instances where hosts on livestreaming platforms, purporting to be legitimate jewelry merchants, have employed deceitful tactics to sell counterfeit luxury items. The need for enhanced regulatory oversight and stricter enforcement on digital platforms has never been more urgent to protect older consumers from exploitation.


Key Takeaways for the Jewelry Sector


– **Sustained Market Growth:** The consistent interest from China’s middle-aged and elderly populations in traditional jewelry designs is a key driver of market growth.

– **Diverse Consumer Base:** Brands should diversify product offerings to cater to the varied purchasing motivations of older consumers.

– **Digital Literacy and Safety:** As older consumers increasingly turn to online shopping, enhancing digital literacy and protection against fraud within this demographic is crucial.


As the jewelry market continues to evolve, understanding and addressing the unique needs and preferences of all age groups, especially the often-overlooked older demographics, will be essential for sustained growth and consumer protection.


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