3 Ways Young Chinese Consumers (i.e. Millennials) Are Really Different


There are approximately 200M Chinese between 15 and 24 years of age. These are the millennials everyone is talking about. They are about 15% of the population and they are changing pretty much everything in consumer China.

Probably the defining aspect of this group is that they have, by and large, been raised in abundance. Unlike previous generations, most have no memory of hunger or extreme hardship. They have mostly grown up in modern apartments with modern conveniences.

Here are three big ways this group is different (I am summarizing various studies):

1. They are more brand loyal than other Chinese consumers.

Unlike previous generations that would tend to shop around for the best deal, this group will stay with brands they like. This is great news for companies.

Millennials are also more interested in trying new products. You can see this group jumping into new products and services on almost a monthly basis. This does fuel the fad / “hot product” phenomena we see in China all the time.

2. They are more emotional (in terms of buying) and less concerned with being frugal.

This group will buy $5 lattes and readily take trips to Paris. They buy clothes and furniture based on how it makes them feel – and how they want want to see themselves. This group is buying far more for emotional and aspirational reasons. That is very different than previous generations that were pretty frugal and mostly looking for a good deal. This is also great news for companies.

If you are focused on Chinese consumers upgrading their lifestyles (which most everyone is), this is your group.

3. They are really confident about their own financial futures.

Every study shows this group is super-confident about their futures. They are very confident that their incomes are going to rise – and this confidence tends to enable spending.


Basically, young Chinese are the demographic the whole world has been waiting for: emotional, confident, big- spending Chinese consumers. They are also the demographic in China that is most similar to consumers in developed economies.


Finally, it almost goes without saying that young consumers are a lot more wired. They are overwhelmingly online and +90% have mobile phones. In fact, “online consumers” and “young consumers” are pretty much interchangeable terms. If you want to reach young Chinese consumers, you need a strategy for smartphones and the Internet.

Thanks for reading. Jeff


I write (and speak) about how rising Chinese consumers are disrupting global markets. (#ConsumerChina). This also includes work on:

  • China 2025″ – what a region transformed by Chinese consumers, companies and capital is going to look like. (#China2025)

Photo by Sorbis / Shutterstock


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