Brand Marketing Towards Millennials in China: Advice for Businesses


china millennials

Any brand who is looking to make it big in the Chinese market, will find that they have to go about their brand marketing in a different method than what they may be accustomed to. This is extremely true of those brands that are coming to Chine from other countries. One of the biggest marketing threats to companies in China is how can you market to millennials?

Millennials Compared to Older Adults

Millennials are defined as those who were born in the 90’s within China, and when compared to their parents they are completely different in what they value and what interests them. Some would argue that of course these age brackets are different, however, there is more to this situation than simply maturity rate and ideals. Millennials grew up in a time in which technology was booming, they were in on the latest and greatest gadget that was coming to the market. In addition, these millennials have not had to suffer through any hard economic times that they can remember, making them a different type of shopper. And what is scary for many brands – in China there are around 135 million millennials that need to have products and services marketed towards them.

What Matters to Millennials

In order to fully understand how to market to this bracket of people, a business must understand what it is that millennials want. According to Ellen Hou, the group managing director and chief strategy officer for McCann Worldgroup Shanghai, she explained that China’s youth:

“…they really want to make this moment interesting and happy rather than living for the future and for others…The implication for the brand is, how to make the brand be alive in this moment?”

Be Relaxed, Be Fun

Millennials are all about being relaxed and keeping things lighthearted. This can be seen in regards to their views towards alcohol. At one point in time, alcohol was nothing more than a way for business people to seal a deal, it was not considered a recreation activity. However, times have changed. According to Hou:

“…now it’s about having fun, taking a break, sharing freely and making new friends.”

For brands looking to make it in China, appealing to this young and fun ideals could win you points with this age bracket.

Find what this age will resonate with

There is nothing better for a brand to do than to find a way to resonate with their target audience. Millennials value their appearance, but they don’t believe there is such a thing as classical beautiful anymore. Everyone is embracing their inner beauty. Some brands that have had success with this age bracket, have taken their normal messages and changed these specifically to meet the age bracket. For example, L’Oréal Maybelline is always associated with the great life of New Yorkers. But, for millennials this approach was not working, New York meant little to them. So, the company took the message of being beautiful now to a whole new level, allowing for millennials to start connecting with the brand.

Discover the value of social media marketing for this age bracket here

Enjoyment is the key

Millennials want to enjoy their lives, and this is reflected in their shopping preferences as well. According to Hou stores need to embrace experiences, rather than pushing product. Products can be found anywhere, but it is the experience and enjoyment from this experience that will keep people coming back for more.

Recap for Brands

Millennials are not an age bracket to overlook in the Chinese market. They are a growing force that has buying potential that could make or break a brand. So to ensure that you are doing all that you can do:

  1. Relax and have fun with the advertisements you direct towards this group
  2. Find an idea that will resonate with this group
  3. Be sure that your marketing is enjoyable to see results

New brands cannot afford to not cater to this demographic. If they do, they will not find the success they seek in China.

About Author

Social Brand Watch (SBW) is a collection of experts in digital, mobile and social media in China. SBW was created to complement Resonance's China Social Branding Report, a bi-weekly report focusing on modern marketing methods of the world's top brands in China.

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