China’s online shopping behemoth wants Senior Experience Officers – Under 60’s need not apply!

Taobao, the online shopping mall, wants to hire two Chinese senior citizens, influential in their social circles and maintaining “harmonious” relationships with their children. They must also have at least one year of online shopping experience.

Why the fuss?

With well over 760 million product listings (March 2013), Taobao is one of the world’s most visited websites. According to Alibaba’s latest figures, over 30 million Taobao users are over 50, with over 75 percent falling in the 50-59 range, and nearly 20 percent aged 60-69.

The goal of this initiative is to shape a new version of Taobao aimed at China’s ageing, but e-savvy consumer population. And what a great way to start; hiring people of an age that might help avoid the traps most companies fall into when reaching older consumers.

Under 60-years need not apply

The successful applicants will need to organize group discussions for their similarly aged peers, and provide feedback about senior citizens’ experiences of using the new version of Taobao, according to the job ad.

Within a day of posting the ad, Alibaba received over 1,000 resumes from applicants ranging from former teachers, judges, police officers to public servants interested in the role. The company said the oldest applicant is an 83-year-old retired scientist from Hangzhou, who has an engineering degree.

According to Taobao executives, the new Taobao for retirees will make it easier for them to register an account and browse products, delivering an improved user experience, from personalised recommendations to after-sales service. Furthermore, they aim to create something that helps them strengthen relationships with the younger generation, bring them closer together.

They don’t know what they want, so don’t ask them

Like other consumer groups, older shoppers often do not know what they want or what changes might make their customer experience less troublesome. This is compounded by deeply ingrained stereotypes that plague society and handicap our thinking about ageing.

Our free AF Brands app is a logical and liberating tool to help identify potential barriers and innovate solutions to achieve a more delightful shopping experience.