Getting to know you series: The Chinese Millennial

In this second edition of our ‘Getting to know you’ series, MCX Marketing Intern Vitti Malhotra looks at one of the largest millennial populations in the world – the Chinese Millennial.

At 415 million people, Chinese millennials make up almost one third of China’s total population, a group which is larger than the combined working population of the US and Western Europe. Let’s let that one sink in for a moment! Even more interesting is the fact that millennials represent 40 per cent of the total Chinese urban population. This generation has grown up amid unprecedented economic growth, political stability, technological growth, and global connectivity.

So, in the spirit of ‘getting to know you’, here are some of the key characteristics of Chinese Millennials – an important target market in China, Australia and the world.

1. They spend generously for a premium lifestyle.

The majority of Chinese millennials were born during the One-Child Policy period and as such have enjoyed the undivided attention of their parents and grandparents getting the best of everything – including all the love and financial support. This is in stark contrast to previous generations – including their parents – who survived through challenging economic and social times.

For millennials, life has always been good and will only get better– a mindset that shapes their behaviour and spending patterns. Chinese millennials have ambition for a premium lifestyle, which makes them more willing to pay for quality.

McKinsey studies suggest that with rising health, food safety and quality consciousness, around half of modern Chinese consumers seek for the best and the most expensive offerings over mass produced products. Chinese shoppers account for 32 per cent of total luxury sales consumption worldwide – USD 319.6 billion. And thanks to Chinese millennials’ aggressive purchases of luxury items including high-priced cosmetics, clothes and jewellery – luxury goods sales topped USD 22 billion last year among this demographic – a jump of 21.4 per cent from the previous year.

Millennials have enormous spending power especially on smartphones, travel, fashion accessories, fun experiences and small splurges – where brand and quality matter.

2. They seek to enjoy life and are big on travel

Chinese millennials are the single largest segment of China’s outbound travellers, accounting for 67 per cent of total Chinese overseas tourists and travelling overseas twice as much as previous generations.

As Chinese millennial travellers leave China and take over the world, they are spending more than twice the amount per trip compared to the average Asian millennial traveller, making Chinese millennial tourists the most powerful spenders according to research commissioned by Singapore Tourism Board.

They rely on social media channels like WeChat for travel information and tips from friends, brands and professional travel advisors. They also go to popular apps such as C-trip, Qunar, and Tuniu for travelling information.

3. They are savvy e-commerce and mobile phone shoppers

Being far more educated and globally aware than previous generations, Chinese millennials are savvy shoppers with e-commerce and mobile phones – already making more than 40 per cent of their purchases online. Social media and mobile shopping are now the major shopping channels that millennials embrace.

For example, during last year’s Singles’ Day shopping festival, an initiative launched by Alibaba, 82 per cent of Chinese shoppers shopped via their mobile phones. This haul generated an eye-watering $25.3 billion sales in just 24 hours, breaking the previous year’s record of $17.8 billion by 40 per cent – way more than the total sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined in the U.S – a paltry USD6.79 billion in 2016 by comparison.

4. They value word of mouth and social recommendations

Since Chinese millennials spend ample time on social media, their consumption is greatly influenced by their peers and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs). Many brands are implementing the KOL approach to promote their products and drive sales – to great effect.

For example, leading French cosmetics brand Estée Lauder recently worked with renowned beauty bloggers on Weibo, including Little Chilli Irene (@小辣椒Irene) and Amanda (@啊曼大), to promote Envy Oil-infused Lipsticks. This collaboration resulted in over 3100 interactions among young beauty enthusiasts who were very likely to purchase the product.

Little Chilli Irene


To further illustrate the power of influencers over these audiences one need look no further than our very own WeetBix. Sales of the breakfast cereal spiked hugely after being featured on the popular Chinese TV soap Ode to Joy in 2016, an episode watched by about 1 billion people. Indeed, the power of influencers over Chinese millennials’ behaviour is profound.

5. They are extremely active on social media

Along with having the world’s highest number of internet users – 731 million as of December 2016 – China also has the world’s most vibrant environment for social media.

Growing up in single-child households with gadgets, Chinese millennials are extremely active on the internet and social media such as Weibo and WeChat – much more so than their Western counterparts. For the uninitiated, Weibo is the Chinese equivalent to Twitter and WeChat is the all-in-one and powerful Chinese social media app leading the way among Chinese.

Among the Chinese internet population, 80 per cent regularly visit social networking sites and online communities. Chinese millennials are the heaviest users of social media and they do so on mobiles more than laptops or tablets.

WeChat leads the Chinese – counting over 1 billion monthly active users worldwide as of March 2018, with 70 million users outside of China and an impressive 1.5 million users in Australia.

Want to know more about marketing targeting Chinese millennials – including over WeChat? Contact us today for more information and to learn more about MultiConnexions joint venture partnership with leading Chinese social media company – WeChat Agency.

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