Gen Y in China – The generation of opportunities

Dirk Ziems

Gen Y in China – The generation of opportunities

Market research should take place where life happens. concept m examines psychological consumer and everyday structures in 40 countries by now. Rochus Winkler and his team are on the move all over the world and report back from a market researchers point of view. Part 1 reaches us from the chinese branch in Peking.

Fully grasping the everyday life of people as authentically as possible forms the basis for the investigations of national und global consumer structures. This also applies to China and its generation Y – a generation moving in an area of conflict between chinese/communist tradition and western lifestyle. We wanted to see how life looks like in the huge business districts or malls of the capital as well as in the small Hutongs, where people live their ordinary life.

The parental generation of Gen Y experienced the beginning and the initial successes of the chinese economic miracle. They got to know western brands and new forms of consuming for the first time, and thus discovered – particularly in the upper midsize market – their strong liking for high-quality premium and luxury brands from the West like Gucci or Hermès, both inside and outside China.

Growing up in the world of digital consumption

Today's 25-to35-year-olds are characterised as „Generation of opportunities“ – because this Gen Y defines the rules for a new consumption culture in a nation that is spreading wider and wider for western values. This generation gladly takes the opportunity of digital media, even if Google is blocked: the search engine Baidu offers similar possibilities, and Taobao is comparable with eBay. WeChat keeps everything together in communicative terms, and has just made m-payments available.

That means that not only improved education service and increased purchasing power, but also the opening-up for new technologies drive the digital progress.

Interestingly, our interviews showed that besides a solid sense of style the Gen Y is affected by indecisiveness and inner conflicts. While the internet gives them freedom, individuality and a sense of infinity, the traditional influence that is accompanying them (and exists for centuries) still continues.

Due to this duality, consumer of the generation Y submit to social (familiar) habits and collective practices: often the extended family decides upon a car purchase of one group member.

Gen Y prefers a lifestyle of elegance, subtlety and authenticity to compensate these contradictions. Instead of displaying their properties pretentiously like their parents did, Gen Y focuses on simple and stylish design.

The following trends of consumption patterns can be derived:

– A new role model for woman
The female members of Gen Y take advantage of their professional chances, but also have to combine it with attractiveness and motherhood. Products and brands that promise to create a feeling of balancing all this are highly popular.

– Food style
The passion for different food styles makes the cultural openness of Gen Y clear and can replace a trip abroad sometime. At the same time, the traditional, regional cuisine is very important to this generation.

– Fashion style
Elegant understatement and stylish taste in the meaning of „less is more“ characterises their maxim.

– Tourism
Individual, tailor-made trips are preferred: They stand for independence and self-determination. The turning away from traditional group tours symbolises the rejection of collective decision-making and the refusal to give responsibilities in the hands of another person.

– Entrepreneurship
Gen Y, working as hard and motivated as their parents, established a new and colourful mix of offices and interesting start ups. However, they are longing to work less than the previous generation.

The original article was first published in the german market research portal of planung&analyse.

Dirk Ziems
Dirk Ziems ist Experte für tiefenpsychologisches Marketing und berät auf Basis von Markt-, Medien- und Kulturforschung weltweit Unternehmen und Konzerne in zahlreichen Branchen und Ländern. Als Mitbegründer der Global Research Boutique Concept M und der Marketingberatung Flying Elephant begleitet er Themen wie die Adaption von Erfolgsprodukten in neuen kulturellen Kontexten, das tiefe Verständnis neuer Konsumgenerationen in China und USA, die Transformation der Werbekommunikation in der neuen digitalen Medienwelt oder die Neuorientierung der Brands in Post-Corona-Zeiten. Dirk Ziems ist auch als Gastdozent an verschiedenen Universitäten tätig.

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