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Five Things You Should Know About China's Millennials

For starters, they are privileged and digitally connected

April 18, 2017 | Demographics

The demographic group described as millennials—which eMarketer defines as those born between 1981 and 2000—is more commonly known as the Post-80s and -90s generation in China. This generation in China is now roughly between the ages of 17 and 36.

This generation grew up under the converging forces of an economically ascendant and prosperous China, when its social fabric was greatly influenced by the one-child policy. Those factors have made China’s Post-80s and -90s generation unique even among their global peers.

According to a recent Forbes article written by China middle-class expert Helen Wang, China’s 400 million millennials have become “super consumers” thanks to the constant showering of attention and resources from parents and grandparents in one-child households.

Here are five things marketers should know about China’s millennials:

They Are Digital and Mobile-First

According to a China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) survey, millennials (ages 20 to 39 for the purposes of this poll) comprised more than half of the internet users in China in 2016. In a survey conducted by Sinomonitor, mobile internet penetration among China’s urban millennials was above 90% in the 12 months ended March 2016, the highest rate of any age group studied.

They Are Highly Social

Millennials make up the bulk of all users on two of China’s leading social platforms: WeChat and Weibo. According to an October 2016 Newzoo report, 60% of WeChat’s users in China are between 16 and 35.

Internet Users Ages 20-35 in China vs. the US Who Agree that They Share Everything They Do Online, Feb 2017 (% of respondents)

Millennials’ (ages 18 to 30) presence on microblogging platform Weibo is even higher; there they account for 66.8% of all users, according to Weibo’s annual report. In a recent Labbrand survey, 55.3% of millennials (ages 20 to 35) in China either agree or completely agree with the statement “I share everything that I do online.” Just 28.3% of US respondents said the same. Moreover, 76.6% of millennials in China create original content for their own online channel at least once a week, compared with 41.8% in the US.

They Value Uniqueness and Are Naturally Curious

Millennials in China are discerning and demanding—valuing authenticity and uniqueness. Their curiosity has led to booming cross-border retail ecommerce sales in China, which eMarketer estimates will reach $110.68 billion in 2017. According to Alibaba’s Tmall Global annual report, millennial digital buyers born between 1981 and 2000 largely dominate the cross-border ecommerce platform. The top 3 product categories among unmarried Post-90s are personal care and beauty, food and apparel and accessories. Their adventurous tastes have also led to popularity for emerging product categories such as foreign wine and Japanese animation.

They Are Globetrotters

According to a millennials study conducted by GfK in October 2016 for Airbnb, 93% of millennials in China consider traveling an important part of their identity. They rank it higher than any other priorities listed, such as paying off debt, investing and saving, or buying a home or car.

They Are Financially Secure

A recent HSBC survey found that 70% of millennials ages 19 to 36 in China own their own home—the highest rate among the nine countries surveyed, including the US (35%) and UK (31%). The report attributed the relatively high rate of home ownership among millennials in China to the culture of owning properties, relatively high income in the age group and support from their parents.

Man-Chung Cheung

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