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6 things to know about China's Gen Z consumers - and how they can afford

6 things to know about China's Gen Z consumers - and how they can afford

6 things to know about China's Gen Z consumers - and how they can afford luxury brands

According to global logistics company Agility, Chinese Gen Z have deep pockets, even those in their teens, and put individuality and self-expression first when deciding which luxury brands best represent them

Millennials - a group over 300 million strong - are a key source of growth for many brands in China. Their successors, Generation Z (defined here as the "post-95" generation, aged 15 to 24), are even freer about spending - they include nearly 170 million people and and have the potential to contribute even further.

Global logistics company Agility conducted interviews with more than 500 Gen-Z (born 1995-2002) consumers in 14 tier 1 and tier 2 cities in China to gain deeper insights into their values, priorities, and how they approach and interact with brands.

Here are some key findings about China's Gen-Z demographic:

1. They are free spenders

Even though many Gen Zs are not part of the workforce doesn't keep them from spending money - including on big-ticket items. Seventy per cent of Gen Zs who were not employed full-time receive at least 3,000 yuan (US$420) in pocket money per month - with 21 per cent getting more than 10,000 yuan a month.

How do they afford high-priced purchases like designer bags, hot sneakers and jewellery? Two-thirds say they save up the allowances they receive to spend it on a coveted item, while others either use credit cards that their parents or other people pay for or even take out loans.

What does this mean for brands?

The target consumer, even for luxury goods, does not just start at twenty-somethings with office jobs. Many in their mid- to late-teens have cash on hand even if they don't have an income and are keen to spend it.

2. They are individualistic and want to have control

Many have a sense of being independent and brave and are more willing to express themselves and their views openly.

They are by no means immune to influence and group behaviour - witness the popularity of daka (punching the card), the phenomenon of young people taking a photo in a popular spot to show that they've done it.

They like to feel that they are not blindly following the herd and making choices based on their own tastes. They cast the net widely to get ideas and advice from RED, TikTok, Bilibili, Instagram (either via VPNs or Instagram digest accounts on Chinese social media accounts) and private WeChat communities run by bloggers they follow - and like to feel that they are contributing to the conversation.

3. Luxury means quality of life and self-expression

When asked what "luxury" means to them, the top attributes that Chinese Gen Zs mention are enhancing their quality of life, and being something that shows their taste, rating these ahead of statements like "something from a well-known brand", "something that shows my social status or wealth", or "something that is unique".

What does this mean for brands?

Even as some consumers moderate their spending, many Gen Z are not giving up luxury but still make purchases as a way to keep up the quality of life that they aspire to or have become accustomed to. This tends to be the case as consumers become more affluent.

4. They expect brands to be approachable

Gen Zs are used to being communicated with in an informal, relatable way, whether it's by the key opinion leaders (KOLs) they follow on RED and Bilibili, other online community members they chat with on WeChat, or store assistants they message after visiting stores.

Within luxury especially, they do not engage with official brand apps or websites as much and look for content on these brands from someone they see as more like themselves, offering an authentic viewpoint, personal passion and practical advice.

5. They like to mix and match

Chinese Gen Zs are comfortable mixing and matching high and the low. It is common to see luxury brands such as Chanel with casual streetwear brands like CDG Play and Casio G-Shock watches. When asked what brands represent them, they are as likely to name luxury brands like Chanel as sportswear brands.

What brand best represents you?

6. They like to travel

Travel is one of Gen Z's favourite hobbies. South Korea, Australia and Hong Kong are among the most popular destinations. Although they are showing less interest in visiting Hong Kong in the future, Australia and France rank highly among other destinations that are top of mind.

These are excerpts from Agility's research on Chinese millennials and Gen Z, which were unveiled to senior executives from 30 luxury brands in Shanghai on September 24.

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Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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