Reaching Gen Z consumers in China

Published Aug 13, 2020


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Toluna is the parent company of KuRunData, leading provider of real-time consumer insights in China. All eyes are on the APAC market and monthly, we will share insights we’ve gathered from Chinese consumers.  

Generation Z is at the forefront of a new class of spending power and influence, leading digital trends around the world. The Gen Z population of China makes up 223 million people, according to the statistics of the National Bureau of Statistics, making it an especially important group to consider when conducting research. This group of people, born after 1996, were raised during a period of rapid economic development and substantial increase in consumption—creating significantly different living habits and interests compared to young people in the past. According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, the per capita GDP increased from 5091 yuan to 30808 yuan from the year 1995 to 2010, and, during the same period, the resident consumption level increased from 2330 yuan to 10919 yuan.

The 24 years during the growth of Gen Z coincides with a period of national strength and improved living standards in China. During this time, social status in China started to become more evident, placing pressure on Gen Z to fit in with certain social stratifications.

A new generation of influence

Generation Z is widely influenced by the Japanese and South Korean culture, which is then internalized as a part of Chinese culture. Cultural diversification, the enhancement of cultural self-confidence, and the transformation of entertainment forms characterize this era. Gen Z was born during China’s early-stage access and popularity of the Internet. They went online for web browsing during primary school, used smart phones during junior high school, used WeChat for social networking during high school, and used mobile apps for financial management during university. The whole course of the development of the Internet in China has been accompanied by the growth of the post-95 generation, affecting them from thought to behavior in an all-around way.

Increasing spending power 

The values and consumption views of Gen Z are distinctive from other generations. As digital natives growing up during a period of rapid economic growth, they represent an emerging segment with strong spending power. According to a Bain and Company report, Gen Z is purchasing new brands at the fastest rate in addition to trading up products for higher quality as their earnings increase. Additionally, throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, the Chinese Gen Z population’s unique spending and behavioral preferences have become even more evident. The Global Barometer study conducted by Toluna, KuRunData, and Harris Interactive indicates that:

  • 40% are spending more money on online entertainment streaming services 
  • 49% are looking more closely at product information and packaging to help them decide which cleaning and hygiene products to purchase
  • 46% are spending more time when choosing the right hygiene products to purchase
  • 43% are looking for brands to introduce new toiletry products
  • 67% would consider purchasing products directly from a brand or manufacturer 
  • 49% plan to spend more on leisure clothing this year, compared to 25% across all age groups in China

Although our insights indicate these consumers have become more selective with their purchases, as more of the Gen Z population join the workforce the spending power for this segment will continue to increase. With over 200 million consumers, and many interested in new brands and products, now is the time to consider this audience. 

Interested in learning more about doing research in China? Read the first post of our Spotlight on China series here.

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