Baba Stock – Silver hair draws eyeballs, creates big content niche
Creative content, including entertainment shows on TV, with focus on the elderly group, can develop into a niche business with significant market potential, given that China is increasingly becoming an aging society, industry experts said.
For instance, Wow! Mom, a new weekly variety show on Hunan Satellite TV, a satellite-based channel of Hunan province, has mothers of some renowned Chinese actresses in lead roles.
Unlike other programs that focus on film stars with their family members in supporting roles, Wow! Mom, which has been airing since late April, shines the spotlight on celebrities’ mothers, who are typically aged 50 and above. It is China’s first such TV show.
Hunan Satellite TV said for long, the public has shaped a stereotype of middle-aged and elderly women as a group that is good at cooking and cares much about families and children, but not many people pay attention to their individual pursuits, personalities, talent and giftedness.
So, the channel decided that mothers, accompanied by their celebrity daughters, would showcase their healthy and positive lifestyles on the show. With 20 pairs of mothers and daughters together, the show aims to shortlist 10 pairs eventually for a supermodel training camp.
Watched by admiring offspring and a gushing audience, moms donned in trendy designer outfits will walk the ramp, and likely elicit applause not just from the on-site audience but also from viewers nationwide as the regional channel, renowned for its variety shows, enjoys wide viewership.
Eyeballs are expected to translate into advertising revenue for content producers and TV channels, and convert viewers into potential consumers for advertisers.
Advertisers on the program include Kispa laundry detergent, a brand of Guangzhou Liby Enterprise Group Co Ltd; Ganten, a premium bottled water brand in China; and the healthcare and medicines unit of Tmall, a major e-commerce platform of Alibaba Group.
All of them are backing the show as they aim to increase brand recognition and believe the program can help them to attract a large number of potential consumers.
Despite their daughters being celebrities, participating mothers have drawn more attention and the show’s popularity is borne out by its high ratings and nonstop e-chatter among netizens, especially on Chinese online social networks.
“Variety shows that focus on the mothers of film stars can resonate with a large viewership and strike a chord among audiences about the parent-child relationship, intergenerational interactions, and the social life of the elderly group,” said Zhang Weilin, an analyst at the LeadLeo Research Institute, a market research provider.
“The show has helped mothers to dress up and become fashion idols. It not only attracts the attention of young audiences, but also middle-aged women who are pursuing fashionable lifestyles. Thus, the show has drawn a wider audience,” Zhang said.
Wendy Liu, a 28-year-old financial services employee in Beijing, said she has watched several episodes of the show as it provides an opportunity for ordinary moms to discover a hitherto ignored, neglected or overlooked part of themselves, nurture and develop it so they could become more confident, actualize their full potential and feel fulfilled.
“I noticed that some celebrity daughters in the show tend to guide their moms about dressing and styles. I think they should give their moms more freedom and let them decide their own looks,” Liu said.
In recent years, China has aired a number of TV shows that feature the families of celebrities, including shows that spotlight couples, parents and kids, and the relationships between celebrities and their parents-in-law.
“The domestic TV content market has turned white-hot, and the demand and preferences of audiences have been evolving. This has spurred producers to constantly innovate new topics that are both interesting and meaningful,” Zhang said.
Variety shows that focus on silver-haired groups also reflect China’s aging society. As viewers age, variety shows’ focus has been shifting to match their changing tastes, preferences and expectations.
In 2019, major television stations and video platforms launched about 230 variety shows. The shows that focused on the elderly group accounted for 5 percent of the total, which indicated a significant room for growth, according to LeadLeo.
In the overseas markets, variety shows that focus on silver-haired groups have been developing at a relatively mature stage. For instance, in South Korea, Grandpas over Flowers, which features elderly film stars traveling in different countries, has been quite popular among Asian audiences for several seasons broadcast over years.
In Poland, Polish TV show Sanatorium of Love invited willing candidates who are aged 60 and above to take part in blind dates, and it has become one of the most popular reality shows for seniors in the country.
“Those TV shows reflect the real daily and social life of elderly people, and audiences can easily share their thoughts and feelings with the shows,” Zhang said.
“To further develop the Chinese market for variety shows about seniors, content needs to be innovated in terms of topics and other creative elements,” she said.