Weibo Has More Influence Over China's Gen Z Consumers than WeChat

    A recent report by the management consulting firm Accenture reveals the consumption behaviors of China's Gen Z, the pioneers of shopping on social media.
    Photo: imtmphoto/Shutterstock
    Yiling PanAuthor
      Published   in Consumer

    Online stores and physical boutiques are equally important for Generation Z (Gen Z) when it comes to shopping; they use social media apps like WeChat and Weibo not only for messaging but for shopping; they frequently buy on impulse, and they are more willing to pay extra for speedy delivery.

    These are just some of the findings from a report titled "The Global Generation Z (Gen Z) Consumers Survey: China Insight," released by the management consulting company Accenture on August 24, which attempts to demystify the consumption behaviors of China's Gen Z.

    In the report, Gen Z is defined as the post-95s generation (meaning they were born after 1995), and it specifically refers to people who are aged between 18-20 years (it is not legal to study underage people in China).

    The population of post-95s is approximately 250 million in China as of the end of 2016, according to the country's National Bureau of Statistics. This demographic has demonstrated rising purchasing power in recent years mostly due to the generous financial support of their parents.

    In China, this generation are true digital natives, and pioneers of shopping on social media even though they are relatively late to online retail. 70 percent of them are willing to purchase products on social media. That figure is higher than that of the post-90s generation, which is at 58 percent, and the post-80s generation, which is at 60 percent.

    Moreover, when it comes to which major social media channel has more influence over the post-95s with respect to decisions about what they should buy, Weibo wins over WeChat, the report shows. The finding is the opposite for post-90s and post-80s generations, both of which value WeChat more than Weibo.

    The post-95s generation is also overall less sensitive about price compared to previous generations, the study points out. They care more about post-sale comments and feedback that they can see on social media and e-commerce websites. Also, they tend to seek opinions from family, friends and online influencers before making purchasing decisions. One-third of the surveyed respondents said they would compare and contrast apparel products of at least four stores, both online and offline, before they buy.

    On the other hand, being that they're young, they're also more inclined to make impulse purchases. They are likely to buy items as long as they like them. One direct consequence of this habit, according to Accenture, is that the return rate of their purchases is also high. Therefore, it is pretty important for brands to ensure that they have a friendly return policy and that the return process is satisfactory. Otherwise, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they would never come back to the brand again.

    The post-95s are much more demanding about the speed of delivery. The report says that they may cancel online orders if the delivery time is not clear to them. They expect to receive an order in less than one day and are willing to pay extra for the speedy service. They are also quite outspoken about their customer experience. 72 percent of the surveyed respondents said they frequently give feedback to online sellers.

    Accenture suggests that brands improve their online shopping experience, from shortening the delivery speed to paying close attention to their post-sales feedback, in order to cater to this demographic. However, that does not mean the offline environment is not important to the post-95s generation. The report shows that they value the offline shopping experience, too, and demand physical stores to offer a digital experience.

    Discover more
    Daily BriefAnalysis, news, and insights delivered to your inbox.