Chinese Gen Z in the Age of Post- Globalisation

The world of Gen Z is quite fascinating, and many people would like to get a glimpse into this world to better understand their characteristics and distinctive qualities. In some cases, people assumed that Gen Z around the world were the same and applied the mindset of American Gen Z to Chinese Gen Z. Even though young people around the world share some similar traits, we cannot ignore the fact that culture plays a very significant role in their attitude towards life, their lifestyle, shopping and consumption habits. In China, Gen Z are defined as Post 90 (90后) or Post 00 (00后), and this group of young people are the driving force behind China’s domestic consumption growth.

Gen Z around the world have a strong willingness to share their opinions, even though it may be quite different or opposed to previous generations. Having said this, the way that Chinese Gen Zchoose to voice their feelings is very different. Instead of ‘shouting out loud’ against traditional and conventional thinking, they have found a way to integrate their unique identity with the traditional cultural framework. Fashion is one of the primary ways for them to reflect their unique characteristics and identity, and an example of this is the Hanfu (汉服) phenomenon, which integrates traditional Han clothing design with modern fashion elements.

Chinese Gen Z also have a very sensible attitude towards consumption. In addition to design and visual impact, they would also focus on the quality of products and services, cost performance, and brand reputation. They increasingly have preference for domestic brands that incorporate new technology and reflects their unique values. Li Ning, a Chinese sportswear company, has become an iconic brand in China due to its success combining traditional Chinese elements with modern fashion trends.When choosing a product, Chinese Gen Z would now prioritize how a product will reflect their individuality and cultural identity, rather than the perception of a premium brand.

Besides this, it seems that Chinese Gen Z are much more thoughtful and not easily overwhelmed by excessive information. In this way, it appears that they have inherited down-to-earth mindset from their previous generation and are less likely togo and make spur of the moment purchasing decisions. Mobile Internet is a significant part of the Chinese Gen Z purchasing process. In our “Chinese Gen Z consumption attitude” pilot study, we interviewed a group of young people about their consumption habits, and it was not surprising that they use the internet heavily to research brands, products and services, as they’ve grown up with technology and are extremely familiar with internet interactions and social. Internet search not only enables them to research and compare brands, products and services, but also enables them to explore different aspects by viewing other users’ experiences and recommendations. Even though they appear to have an independent mind and are not easily influenced by others, Word of mouth (WOM)is still a very important part of their purchase decision making. WOM, in this case the digital version, refers to online reviews, users’ feedback, recommendations and shared experiences. It has become one of the key shopping guidelines and has given rise to Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) and Key Opinion Consumers (KOC).

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Chinese Gen Z are very comfortable taking advantage of online promotional coupons in order to maximise their purchase experience. The fun here is not about saving money, but the thrill of ‘outsmarting’ the system. On top of this, Chinese Gen Z enjoy sharing new discoveries with their peer groups, so they can visit new places or buy new products together. Mobile APPs with multiple functions, like WeChat, Meituan (美团) and Dianping (大众点评), offer group coupons that can be easily shared amongst family and friends. In this way, groups can explore the fun of new trends, as well as enjoying the discounts and benefits together.

Gen Z in different countries present themselves in different ways. Chinese Gen Z seems to have found a way to nicely integrate their own unique understanding of the world with the traditional Chinese mindset. As Gen Z continue to embrace national pride and show preference for domestic brands that reflect their attitude and values, it is important for brands to build a connection by integrating these unique cultural elements into its products and brand narrative. Besides this, it is important to note that Chinese Gen Z have also become more sensible and rational in their purchasing process; let’s not forget that many Gen Z were raised by their grandparents, who were born in the 1940s and 1950s, so some of their golden values have carried on in the Gen Z.

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Sami Wong

Research Director at Concept M Asia Pacific, has extensive experience in the field of in-depth research and cross-cultural psychology across Asia Pacific for over 15 years. She is also a psychoanalytic psychotherapist who works in both individual and group dynamic settings.

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