Over the months of November and December 2018, we spent some time in China to explore the Chinese luxury fashion market. Apart from the amazing experience that this country offers, we had the opportunity to research shopping behavior among Post 80s and 90s customers. This article focuses mostly on Post 90s, as there is a major shift happening among this generation in respect to Post 80s.

Traditionally, China has known a very ‘closed off’ government with limited freedom of expression. Media, news and internet access are sometimes blocked or restricted when they don’t fit the government’s vision. This has been happening for many years (maybe hundreds), over many generations, but recently there is change happening: Post 90s become more vocal, independent and individual. Let’s look at some observations and changing customer behavior we learned from our China project.

Let’s look at three personal observations with respect to this change, and specifically related to experience design and technology.

1 – It’s not all about WeChat: the rise of other platforms

WeChat has been the preferred platform for almost anything in China. Banking, social, messaging, booking a flight; it’s a truly all-round platform that serves virtually any purpose, used by over 1 billion active users (!). Where companies try to penetrate the WeChat market with things like campaigns and mini-programs, we found that people are getting a bit ‘WeChat’ tired at times, as it often contains much cluttered information, too much pushed messages and in general an overload of clicking, scrolling, pushing and endless menus.

Specifically, we found that Instagram and Weibo (‘Chinese Twitter’) are becoming more popular. Instagram – through VPN access – because of its no-nonsense visual information, without much clutter and text, and Weibo for short but sweet information about influencers, products or events.

Example of WeChat Mini-program: shopping within WeChat

2 – Post 90s know what they want

After doing various focus groups with Post 90s kids, we found that this new, young generation really knows what they want. Whereas Post 80s and 70s were more influenced by KOLs and celebrities, Post 90s define their own style, establish personal preferences and build their own identity. Possibly because of China’s one-child policy (introduced in 1979), they have been alone at home most of their childhood and used internet and digital channels to form a distinct identity. Especially when they leave their school uniforms behind when they enter University, they quickly start building their ‘future-self’ and do not shy away from feeling unique and special.

Just look at example influencers like Xu Weizhou, Lu Han and girl superstar Ouyang Nana, and you see this reflected: individual style, daring, self-chosen outfits and an often androgyne look.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor han lu xu weizhou

Various Chinese influencers/key opinion leaders (KOLs)

3 – Post 90s are educated, speak English and more are conscious

A last observation worth mentioning: Post 90s people seems more educated and as ‘citizens of the world’ than previous generations have been. Their English is likely to be better (because they increasingly study overseas – close to a million students now), they encounter more financial and educational opportunities, and rather (un)surprisingly, seem a lot more engaged with sustainability, social responsibility, the environment and health. Most of the young kids we spoke with, really care about topics like pollution, poverty and social welfare. In a way, they’re not as high on the Maslow pyramid as Western companies generally are.

In a country that is still and developing and has much basic social issues to worry about, this was rather surprising yet hopeful: a new generation seems to look further than just their own lifespan and seem to create a fertile soil for a healthy, long lasting Chinese population. (Whether that is also the reason why Tesla is gaining popularity among Chinese buyers, is a different question – maybe they just adore Elon Musk ;).

An exciting new generation

This is just a very brief set of observations we encountered while spending time in China. Of course there is much more to say about this new, exciting generation of consumers. One thing is for sure: they’re very much different than any previous generation, and companies need to understand this in order to design, relevant experiences that cater to their specific needs. Not only for their digital strategies, but also in the overall way their build and communicate their brand in this vast Asian country.

Interested how this development will impact your (global) services and business? Get in contact with us!