The key features of China's experimental Millennial.

25 September


There's no denying that marketers in China prize the attention of Millennial consumers. Research shows that China's younger consumers are increasingly omnivorous in their consumption of brands, fickler and less likely to identify exclusively with one or two favorite labels. Attracting the attention of Chinese Millennial is the first challenge, but keeping it is entirely another. So before exploring how can brands inspire loyalty among young consumers and implementing the strategy to drive repeat purchases and create long-term relationships, let's take a 360-degree look at the features and status of Chinese Millennial consumers. 


They are more knowledgeable and discerning.

It's important to understand just how different younger Chinese consumers are from their predecessors. Chinese people under 40 are significantly less brand-loyal than their older counterparts, but it does present a tricky challenge for marketers. For Chinese people born in the 1960s and 70s, having a wide choice of consumer brands was in itself a novel concept. Younger people born in the 1980s and after have grown up surrounded by brands. 

The consequences of this are twofold. First, savvy young consumers today are instinctively seeking out more than just a brand name. They're more discerning than previous generations and want to know how the product was made and what makes it a quality product. In turn, young people can earn social capital and stand out by showing their knowledge of these aspects, rather than simply name-checking brands.

One survey asked respondents to choose the number one reason for their last luxury purchase. Respondents were asked to choose from a list of five contributing factors: brand, design/style, fabric/material, production process and price. While brand was the key factor driving luxury purchases for 94% of respondents from China's post-65s and post-70s generations, that view was only shared by 72% and 68% of post-80s and post-90s consumers respectively.

This is not to say that brands don't matter. "Brand" was still overwhelmingly the leading factor driving millennials' purchases. However, other factors influencing younger shoppers were design/style (11% and 9% respectively), fabric/material (6% and 8%), production process (8%) and price (7% and 4%).


They are experimental consumers.

A significant cross-section of millennials, particularly the post-80s cohort, still display significant loyalty to a small circle of brands. According to the China Luxury Report 2019, more than half (54%) of post-80s respondents reported buying "exclusively" from five or fewer preferred brands. Only 29% of the post-90s cohort reported this intense degree of loyalty to a small number of brands.

In contrast, the survey characterized 52% of the post-90s group and 30% of the post-80s group as "experimental" consumers, willing to occasionally make purchases outside their preferred brands. It's also worth noting the correlation between high degrees of brand loyalty and support for a very small circle of brands-only 15 to 20% of millennials reported buying exclusively from more than five brands.

When they do venture outside of their go-to brands, it's worth remembering that young consumers are meticulous in their pre-purchase research. The Center for Generational Kinetics found that 68% of Gen Z/post-95 Chinese consumers read at least three reviews before buying a product for the first time. This habit was even more pronounced among female consumers, with 70% of women saying they read a minimum of three reviews prior to purchase, compared to 61% of male Gen Z consumers. Female consumers tend to dig deeper than males, with 21% of Gen Z females reading nine or more reviews. Only 11% of male consumers researched purchases to this extent.



It is essential for marketers to keep in mind that Chinese Millennials are repertoire shoppers and a lot more willing to switch brands than their previous generation. No matter how well-known their brand is or how successful their products are, marketers should adapt their marketing strategies that seek to inspire followership and repeat purchases among millennials.

Splio is a New Loyalty Marketing Platform that combines WeChat Loyalty, New Loyalty Engine and Marketing Automation, to enable marketers to acquire, activate, engage and retain customers with personalized communications on all channels, driving loyalty and revenue for brands.


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