China’s Generation Z - an emerging borderless tribe

2019年3月4日 | 新闻稿

China’s Generation Z - an emerging borderless tribe, hungry for uniqueness and characterized by growing spending power, according to the widest geographical study of Gen Z conducted by OC&C

  • A comprehensive study of Gen Z spanning nine countries reveals distinct consumption patterns for a generation that will soon account for one third of all consumers worldwide
  • Gen Zers are more likely to be influenced by friends, family and celebrities compared to older generations
  • The desire to be unique sets Generation Z apart from their predecessors, with Chinese Gen Z known to seek one-off, limited edition products 
  • Gen Z are pro-social consumers, meaning they are willing to put in extra effort to support brands that adhere to high ethical standards
  • The study also presents specific actions brands must consider when targeting this distinct group of new consumers

As the oldest member of Gen Z turns 21 this year, global strategy consulting firm OC&C has conducted an in-depth survey of 15,500 respondents spanning four generations and nine countries to help businesses and retailers understand this new and ever-changing generation. Broadly defined as those born in 1998 and after, Gen Z already makes up 30% of the global population and around 20% of China’s population.

OC&C’s research, on one hand, demonstrates that Gen Z carries forward certain trends established by the Millennials, suggesting the socially conscious, experience-led consumer is here to stay for a while.

On the other hand, it identifies several key trends particular to this demographic. Gen Zers across the globe are resembling each other more than any other generation, from attitudes to spending to their outlook on the future. This generation is also subject to higher levels of influence from celebrities and friends, but at the same time, they want to stand out as individuals. Driving these seemingly contradictory forces is, most likely, the irrefutable influence of social media.

Will Hayllar, Partner at OC&C, commented:

“Gen Z is a complicated but vitally important set of consumers for brands and retailers to understand as they will make up a huge proportion of global consumers in just over 10 years. Gen Z is changing the face of consumer industries with distinct behaviour patterns and now is the time for businesses to start thinking about how they can shape their products and services to cater for this younger generation and their needs.

“As our research shows, Gen Zers are different from Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers; their social network is informing decisions and shaping exposure to brands, posing evolving issues for retailers and brands seeking to access Gen Zers. Businesses should take note of this generation’s increased consciousness and ethical standards both when supplying products and services and attracting Gen Zers to their workforce. As such, reviewing supply chain, CSR initiatives and company values should be at the forefront of business marketing.” 

Chinese Gen Z account for the highest household spend by country

“With consumption power growing steadily in China, Chinese Gen Z are emerging as a distinctively new consumer segment that brands want to learn more about and target,” said Veronica Wang, Associate Partner, OC&C Strategy Consultants. “In fact, China accounts for the highest share of Gen Z household spend at 13% compared to only 3% for the UK and 4% for USA. Further data reveals that Chinese Gen Z are spending more in the categories of technology (e.g. mobile phones and media subscriptions) and clothing compared to their Western counterparts. These statistics are enough to urge brands to rethink their business strategy if they want to capitalize on China’s booming market.”

Chinese Gen Z are more willing to spend, fuelled by their increased sense of security and optimism for the future.

As we see the country transitioning from investment to consumption, China ranked the lowest among other surveyed countries for “having savings” (72% compared to 89% for France), revealing Chinese Generation Z are more willing to spend and less willing to save. This trend is largely fueled by Chinese Gen Z’s increased sense of security compared to their Western counterparts, with 41% of respondents agreeing that they are optimistic about their futures compared to only 19% for Italy.

A generation without borders

Compared with older generations, Generation Z share the greatest similarities in behaviours and attitudes among all nine countries surveyed. This suggests a homogenising effect that is almost certainly being driven by technology – the internet and social channels make it ever easier for this online Generation to share ideas and access the same information and media.

“China’s Generation Z are the first Chinese generation to be born in a fully digital age,” said Adam Xu, Partner, OC&C Strategy Consultants. “They are an extremely tech-savvy crowd, willing to share their feelings and experiences in forms of online reviews, blog posts and other means of self-expression. Chinese Gen Z are more likely to make their social media public compared to their Western counterparts who prefer to limit their social media audience to people they know in real life. This suggests that information sharing extends even further beyond their immediate circles for Chinese Generation Z, a trend that presents immense marketing potential if leveraged appropriately.”

As a result of these dynamics, retailers and brands should look to target these cross-border tribes and segment their customer base by similar attitudes rather than – or as well as – traditional demographics.

Gen Z are more demanding and see shopping as a holistic ‘experience’

Brands need to work harder and smarter to retain their customers. While price and quality are still important criteria for choosing retailers, Generation Z have a wider set of purchase criteria as compared to older generations. This group places high importance on other factors beyond price, such as product range, convenience and stylishness. In other words, a brand would have a higher chance of appealing to a Gen Z consumer if it carries wider product offerings (in terms of styles and SKUs) and provides for a pleasant shopping experience (including convenience, speed of delivery, platform functionality). 

Under the influence vs. the need to stand out

Generation Z are prolific social media users. They have more profiles, check their accounts more frequently and spend longer periods of time browsing feeds. As a result, they’re more likely to be influenced by friends and celebrities, follow brands, source purchase inspiration and make transactions.

This online sphere of influence is directly disrupting traditional purchasing journeys – Gen Zers are more likely to purchase through mobile apps, social media, and blogger-s than Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers. This younger generation diverges from traditional sources of brand discovery too. Just 6% of Gen Z selected seeing new brands when out shopping compared to 8% of Gen X and 18% of Baby Boomers.

Despite it seeming that Gen Z find inspiration and identity through friends and celebrities, a core group of Gen Zers (25%) believe it is important to have a unique view on style and creativity. Retailers should look to provide more personalisation and customisation services to satisfy this generation’s appetite for exclusivity. Limited edition mainstream ranges are another tactic that businesses can employ to reach this generation.

Conscious consumption

As socially conscious consumers, Gen Zers expect brands to adhere to high ethical standards. In fact, Gen Zers are willing to take extra steps to research brands’ supply chains and employment practices before making purchase decisions. While issues surrounding animal welfare, equality and diversity are most important to Gen Z overall, the data reveals national differences that appear to directly reflect the political climate of the country.  In China, Gen Z are more concerned by environmentally-friendly consumption (25% vs 13% for Gen Z across the globe), while American Gen Zers (the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in the US) are most committed to solving diversity issues.

For the full report please see here.

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