Around the world, youth marketers and marketing focused on youth-focussed brands have sights on understanding millennials at a deeper, more relevant, level. However in China, the idea of “millennials” is far too broad to be useful …… at all.
Looking at the youth demographic “millennials” in China,there are too many youngish people to be remotely useful. In Chinese, the concept is commonly severed in half, divided into post-80s (born after 1980) and their younger compatriots, the post-90s.
But in a society defined by social and economic change, even the splicing of “millennials” does not capture fundamentally different behaviours and engagement with technology.
In the further splicing of the millennials, which we talk about alot, we believe the post-95s are actually quite distinct from the post-90s.
Recently, Penguin Intelligence (企鹅智酷) released a Chinese-language report focussed on understanding Post-95s.
Great if you read Chinese (as we do, even the New Zealander who is writing this). But life is short, so we have summarised three of the big takeouts, so you can get to grip with China’s newest millennials.
They are more virtual!
Due to being almost completely ‘baby-sat’ by technology, their realities are almost completely mediated by interactive and virtual technologies – far more than their long-in-the-tooth post-90s compatriots, already in their 20s.
For post-95s, their core hangout is QQ rather WeChat or Weibo, as it is full of gaming, interactive messaging, virtual hangouts – this is their habitat.
At a brand level, KFC has co-branded (both online and offline) with QQ, to gain a ‘early starter’ advantage in terms of engaging China’s future middle class.
They are more like their neighbours – Japan
With these teenagers, their relationship with Japan is somewhat different. They engage with Japanese popular and post-modern culture as equals – as modern East Asian citizens.
So Japanese-inspired sites such as Bilibili are hugely popular with this group, as they provide a direct link to the latest culture coming out of Tokyo.
Sensing this opportunity, Harbin Beer posts videos through KOLs on Bilibili, looking to connect with a new generation of beer drinkers, through their own hobbies and habitat.
They are likely to be anti-social and ‘very social’ at the same time
Post-95s are taking China’s version of digital nativeness to another level, not 2.0, not 3.0, but 4.0.
When we talk with them for youth brands as part of our work for SMART, they find it strange to talk about “real friends”, and in their conversations they do not distinguish between online and offline friends, instead socialisation is defined primarily through digital connections rather than real-life.
This will raise fundamental questions for how brands can create “conversations” with China’s newest generation. The idea of brands, for this generation, must, by very definition, be digital, as that is their homeland, and starting point for all things.