(Yicai Global) June 30 -- The main dancers, middle-aged women, taking part in China's popular folk activity, square dancing, were once deemed as a prospective business opportunity by some internet companies. They have developed various apps to attract that target group. However, circumstances have changed over time. The entrepreneurs who were enthusiastic about the business at the beginning have decided to withdraw one after another, with slim hope for receiving payment from users.
A total of more than 60 square dance apps have been put on offer since 2015, the first year for square dance app entrepreneurship, reported tech.sina.com.cn. But merely a few companies are still holding on at present, being unable to find a way for large-scale monetization.
Industry research reports indicate that the current downloads of several major square dance app providers, such as "tangdou.com," "9igcw.com" and "999d.com", have all exceeded 10 million times, yet there is still a long way to go for those app providers to achieve large-scale profitability.
One reason for the internet companies' failure in making profit is that many user groups that are expected to use the square dance apps are unfamiliar with electronic payment methods and are cautious about it, insiders point out. Although the elderly can use mobile devices to skillfully send and receive messages and info, few of them believe, and are willing to use, mobile payment, which has become a major threshold for internet companies to overcome in the senior market.
Moreover, square dance companies target such markets as healthcare products, traveling products, banking products valued at hundreds of millions of yuan thanks to interest from China's old ladies, often referred to as 'damas.' "Someone has tried to make a conversion, but the rate is quite low."
Apart from the square dance, short videos, live shows, match-making communities for sons and daughters…all these entrepreneurs who are deeply rooted in the internet entertainment market for senior citizens have been hit by a dilemma. Though their customer base boasts abundant time, good pension and some consuming intention, it is a tall order to make profits.
This June, the startup project of short videos for senior citizens, 'World of the Analects' has acquired angel investment worth millions of yuan. So far, two video programs, "Beijing Damas Have Their Own Ideas" and "Forum on Health Maintenance," have been produced in an attempt to tap into the senior market.
However, Li Yanqiu, founder of 'World of the Analects' remarked the company is probing into the payment willingness and consuming habits of senior people, though the number of hits on 'Beijing Damas Have Their Own Ideas' currently exceeds 330 million.
Fan Zhaoyi, founder of 9igcw.com, said each company has its own customer base, but all of them are searching for future profit model.