Tencent eyes silver generation with investment in video app for dancing grannies

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Tencent eyes silver generation with investment in video app for dancing grannies
Reuters
  • Of China’s 829 million internet users, 12.5 per cent are aged 50 and above
  • Xiaotang Technology, which runs social media app Tangdou, has raised nearly US$100 million to date
In public squares across China, groups of middle-aged women and seniors regularly gather at dusk and dawn to dance in unison to music blaring from loudspeakers.

Thanks to the internet, the public square is no longer their only stage. Tangdou, a social media app that teaches grannies and grandpas how to dance, has 200 million users in China – more than the population of Mexico and Britain combined.

Tangdou, which means “jelly bean” in English, was launched in 2015 as a dancing video app by Beijing-based Xiaotang Technology. It features tutorials that break down the choreography for a variety of dance styles including Chinese folk dance, jazz, ballroom and even hip-hop.

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While the instruction videos on Tangdou feature original choreography from professional dance teachers, users can post videos of themselves hoofing it, aided by filters that make their skin look fairer and body shape slimmer. They can also share pictures and text with connected friends on the app via the social media page named “Square”.

A mini-app for Tangdou is available on Tencent Holdings’ WeChat, China’s ubiquitous messaging and do-everything app, from which users can buy costumes, cosmetics and skincare products to improve their dance experience.

China’s ageing society problem worsens as birth and marriage rates fall
Investors are now embracing the potential of this huge demographic group. Tangdou said it just raised a series C round of funding led by Chinese video games and social media giant Tencent and existing backers including GGV Capital, IDG Capital and Shunwei Capital, the fund backed by Lei Jun, the founder and chief executive of smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp, according to a statement issued on Monday.

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Tangdou did not disclose the size of the latest round, but said it has now raised nearly US$100 million. The company will further explore monetisation through tourism, offline experiences and other activities targeting the middle-aged and seniors, in addition to existing revenue generation from advertising and e-commerce, Zhang Yuan, founder and chief executive of Tangdou, said in the statement.

While millennials are sought-after consumers, tech companies are also looking closely at internet-savvy senior citizens, part of the silver generation, whose numbers are growing through an ageing population.


China had 829 million internet users by the end of 2018, with 12.5 per cent aged 50 and above, and 15.6 per cent from 40 to 49. The percentages will rise as a quarter of the population is expected to be over 60 by 2030, according to a report by China’s State Council in 2017.
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“Tangdou represents a new form of social activity exclusively for middle-aged and the elderly users,” Jeffery Li Zhaohui, managing partner of Tencent Investment, said in the statement issued on Monday. “We hope Tangdou can enrich their cultural and entertainment life [and become] a leading platform for this group.”

Senior citizens represent one of the fastest-growing demographic groups on WeChat, with 63 million of its more than 1 billion users aged over 55, the company said in January.

Tencent declined to comment on its Tangdou investment.
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