Chinese “Gen Z” shoppers in their early 20s are emerging as an increasingly powerful force in China’s consumption landscape. They are the recipients of generous allowances from their parents. Our internal research estimates that, close to three-quarters of Gen Z consumers in China who are currently studying or looking for work receive an allowance higher than the minimum wage. This facilitates a lifestyle of exploration, instant gratification and experimentation.
A great window to begin to understand Gen Z consumers in China is Bilibili. Bilibili is an ACG (anime, comics, and games) entertainment platform. It currently has over 100 million users, who spend an average of 80 minutes per day entertaining themselves. A great primer on Bilibili has been published by our friends at Jing Daily.
Below, we’ve gone deeper by translating and synthesizing previous media interviews from Chen Rui, Bilibili’s CEO. We hope this can give you an insight into China’s Gen Z consumers that isn’t readily available from other sources.
Without further ado, here are three things Bilibili’s CEO tells us about China’s Gen Z.
1. Gen Z consumers in China have internal contradictions
Chen Rui believes that one of the keys to understanding China’s Gen Z is their internal contradictions. They are simultaneously picky and tolerant. Here’s what he means:
- Gen Z are picky about cultural content. They have high expectations for anime, comics and games they enjoy. They also have high expectations for objects or art forms that take inspiration from anime, comics, games, novels, movies and Chinese culture. When it comes to products, services and content, if the details aren’t right, then Gen Z will struggle to appreciate it.
- Gen Z are respectful of makers and creators. This respect extends to tolerance of mistakes – they don’t mind if a new game has a few glitches, or their favorite vlogger forgets what they’re trying to say. For brands that make their products with a strong sense of design, they key is to find ways to take Gen Z ‘behind the scenes’ and further appreciate what goes into making or creating the products Gen Z enjoys today.
First thought provoking question:
How can brand use co-creation to involve China’s Gen Z consumers in the creative process?
2. Gen Z Consumers in China ‘Go All In’ on the things they’re interested in
By now, you’re probably familiar with hobbyists and enthusiasts who spend time, effort and hard-earned cash on their passions. Consider our favorite enthusiast, Yan Shaoting, who won a Red Dot Design Award at 16 years old. He makes Iron Man Suits in his spare time.
Yan Shaoting poses with armor he designed and produced. Image source: Sina Weibo
But, to Bilibili’s CEO Chen Rui, what makes China’s Gen Z different is they hope their commitment to hobbies and passions can propel their life forward and open new possibilities. That is to say, a creative outlet isn’t just a thing that’s done on the weekend. Maybe it leads to new friends. Maybe it leads to fifteen seconds of (internet) fame. Maybe it leads to a side hustle. Whatever the outcome, the passion should be a force for momentum and progress.
Second thought provoking question:
How can brands facilitate pathways for enthusiasts to ‘level up’ their hobby?
3. China’s Gen Z Consumers Want To Have ‘Cozy’ Feelings Wherever They Go
Chen Rui believes Gen Z have grown up in a period of relative stability and harmony. Born into single-child families, China’s Gen Z have grown up with their parents (and even grandparents) attention and monetary support. This makes Gen Z highly accustomed to a level of comfort, and heightened sensitivity to things that make them feel uncomfortable. We call this feeling ‘cozy’.
What this translates into is earlier forays into luxury goods, greater affinity with products that match their needs, greater spending to refresh wardrobes and higher willingness to use consumer credit to fund impulse buys. What each of these instances tell us Gen Z consumers aren’t afraid to spend to extend how and when they feel comfortable and at ease.
For brands to resonate with Gen Z, they will need to have a strong appreciation of what type of comforts this young generation expects and what types of discomfort they seek to avoid. Consumer research can help brands understand these need states with greater clarity and precision.
Third thought provoking question:
What new levels of customer care and attention will Gen Z inspire?
Image source: luxe.digital @Thehautepursuit
That’s a wrap of the three things Bilibili CEO Chen Rui has taught us about China’s Gen Z consumers. It certainly leaves us with a lot to think about. We hope you learned a few invaluable things about this crucial generation of Chinese consumers.