Consumer Generation Series: Chinese Millennials

In 2013 the cover of Time magazine was titled “The Me Me Me generation- Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents. Why they’ll save us all”. Years passed by and, as Malcolm Harris wrote in his 2017 book Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials,

“Soon ‘millennial’ won’t refer to those rascally kids with their phones”

aka they're not kids anymore. Who are the Chinese millennials today?


Chinese millennials consumers

Chinese millennials (people from 1981 to 1996) grew up in the era of rapid economic growth. They have not experienced war and reconstruction and they are currently on the rise in careers and families. According to a Nielsen report, 36% of the post-80s households have a monthly income of more than 10,000 RMB.

This group is currently the main force in the consumption of various markets in China, such as houses, cars, and home appliances. At the same time, the post-80s and post-90s generations are also very experienced in the consumption of entertainment, electronics, and skincare products.

After the epidemic, a new wave of patriotism struck, a strong local awareness was born, and this consumer group started to focus on individual expression rather than blindly following the trend. The tendency of Chinese millennials to return to Eastern traditions has become a very distinctive characteristic of this group profoundly affecting their consumption choices. “New domestic products” is the trend for Chinese millennials, with several important requirements: high-quality, high-value, and, very often, craftsmanship.


What are the millennials' characteristics?

  • Generally high education, high income

  • They generally live alone and have personality

  • Accept new things quickly and have a strong willingness to consume

  • Focus on personal consumption experience

  • Change from buying products to buying services and buying experience

  • Improving the quality of life and gaining experience are the core driving forces of their consumption

  • Both “millennial” men and women are delaying marriage


Millennials relationship with Social Media and Kol

chinese millennial social media

Social media and mobile shopping are millennials’ major consumption channels (they account for 40.3% of all the social media users in China). They are big social media users — from live streaming to sharing, with fond trust in influencers and KOLs. The millennial followers of influencers account for about 52.2% of all the social media platforms, with Wechat, Douyin, and Kaishou as top social media, as of May 2020.

Those data were also confirmed this year during a live broadcast on the WeChat video channel “Liu Xiao at Night” (夜听刘筱). On March 13, the live streaming reached 10.26 million GMV. The number of likes in the live broadcast room was 2.03 million, and the number of transactions was 14081. The majority of the core users were distributed in the third- and fourth-tier cities, with an average age of 30 to 40 years old. The anchor sold around 60 different items during the live streaming, including cosmetics, skincare, and daily necessities. Luxury price products such as IPhone 12 contributed more than 60% of GMV.


Millennials and Fashion & Beauty

chinese Millennials and Fashion & Beauty

Drama-watching women over 30s have more keen insight into fashion trends, those groups of consumers who love to watch dramas and variety shows are more concerned about beauty, skincare, and fashion than the overall female users.

Sustainability is trending with China’s millennials. Faced with a highly competitive environment and a post-pandemic recession, Chinese millennials are searching for a more minimalist and purposeful life. Although the minimalist life, according to a statistic from De Beers, China’s old millennials and young millennials contributes respectively to 69% and 10% of the diamond jewelry market, accounting for about 79% of the total.

When it comes to beauty products, rookie white-collar consumers (educated people in their early 30s who live in Tier 1–3 cities) are spending 1.5 times the average on makeup products and 1.3 times the average on skincare products.


Millennials and pets

chinese Millennials consumers and pets

Chinese post-’80s are consuming 29,4% of pet contents on WeChat and 18,4% on Douyin, while 29,5% of them are pet owners, becoming the second force (behind Gen Z) of the pet economy.


Millennials and e-commerce

Chinese Millennial consumer and e-commerce

According to the new study of We Are Social GWI and Hootsuite (click