China’s ‘Post-Millennials’ Embrace Emojis and E-Commerce as Brands Study Their Culture

China's younger generation is more digitally savvy and individualistic, according to a new study. (Shutterstock)

China’s younger generation is more digitally savvy and individualistic, according to a new study. (Shutterstock)

For brands still struggling to understand Chinese millennials, it’s time to get ready for a new age group that’s quickly coming of age and carries with it a unique culture of its own: the “post-millennials.”

Defined as those born in China after the year 2000 by a new report just released by Ogilvy, this group is “already greatly influencing consumer habits.” For example, they have “massive decision power over household spending” when it comes to high-tech products, according to Ogilvy. The study found that their parents often turn to them for advice on what to buy and where to find it.

That’s because post-millennials are even more tech-savvy and digital-native than their millennial predecessors, according to the study, which points out that they’re the first generation to grow up with social media around them their entire lives. Since they’re only 15 years old and younger right now, they unsurprisingly spend a massive amount of their online time obsessing about celebrities. Ogilvy’s research finds that 51 percent of their microblogging posts are dedicated to celebrity “worship.”

Members of this social and digital age group love to shop online and show off what they buy. A total of 81 percent of those studied share their e-commerce purchases on social media. Compared to the 15-year-olds of 10 years ago, they are 18 percent less willing to pay in cash, and are 8 percent less willing to “pinch pennies.” This doesn’t mean they’re not savvy shoppers—they’re actually 6 percent less likely to sacrifice “practical utility” for trends.

Although high pressure to do well at school has long been prevalent among China’s youth, this group is becoming more individualistic and believes “being number one in class is not the only definition of success,” says the report. Nonetheless, school pressure is the main source of stress for 91 percent of them, although more than half are confident they can handle it: 55 percent say they thrive under pressure.

They’re also addicted to their technology to the point that 70 percent of them prefer to stay at home on their vacations and down time, where they spend 30 percent of their time studying, 16 percent playing video games, and 14 percent on the phone.

Like any other generation, they’ve formed their own unique vocabulary, with digital usage heavily influencing the way they communicate. They’ve developed an extensive vocabulary around the word meng (萌), which literally translates to “bean sprout” but is also a loan word from Japanese that means “cute” or “adorable.” The report calls the vocabulary “Meng” or “Cutesy” language, with buzzwords like meng meng da (cute). If brands can harness this language, they can get this generation’s attention, says the report. Heavy digital usage also means the use of emojis to communicate continues to skyrocket. Post-millennials use emojis 55 percent more often than China’s “post-90’s” generation and three times more than its “post-80’s” group.

According to Ogilvy, this group may still be young, but the time for brands to think about them is now. The influence they already have on family purchases will likely increase as they mature, and their unique culture and mindset will have a strong impact on what marketing channels and strategies can effectively reach them.

 

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