Social Commerce and Smartphones Drive China’s ‘Generation Z’ Spending

    According to the results of a new survey, the rapid ascent of social media and smartphone use for e-commerce in China is only set to get bigger with the younger generation.
    China's "Generation Z" is set to propel mobile and social e-commerce growth. (Shutterstock)
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Technology

    China's "Generation Z" is set to propel mobile and social e-commerce growth. (Shutterstock)

    As China remains the fastest-growing e-commerce market in the world, social media and mobile shopping are crucial shopping channels that will only get stronger with the next generation.

    According to a recent survey by real estate consultancy CBRE, 45 percent of Chinese respondents said they buy online at least once a week, with those in third- and fourth-tier cities particularly prone to use online retail due to fewer brick-and-mortar options.

    The report also supported the fact that mobile channels are a key platform for online shopping in China, with more than 45 percent of Chinese consumers surveyed using a smartphone to make purchases. This fact is in line with other recently released statistics on m-commerce in China, such as iResearch’s finding that China’s mobile commerce market grew by a stunning 168 percent for the first quarter of 2015. Mobile shopping now takes up 47.8 percent on the e-commerce market in China, putting it on track to surpass PC sales this year with current growth rates.

    An even more interesting finding that’s likely deep connected to the growth of mobile shopping is the fact that more than 70 percent of Chinese respondents shop on social media, representing the highest rate in Asia. This is likely due in no small part to shopping options available through mobile messaging app WeChat, and Alibaba has been working on its own social media development through investment in Weibo and the creation of mobile messaging app Laiwang.

    The report also found that plugged-in Chinese consumers aged 18-24—or “Generation Z,” will be strengthening these trends in the years to come. “Having spent most of their lives using the internet and other related technology, Generation Z’s demographic of consumers has distinct shopping behaviors in comparison to other demographic segments,” says Frank Chen, the executive director and head of research for CBRE in China. “Key aspects of their online shopping habits include stronger trust in online information; more activity on social media; and needing a sense of differentiation. These factors demonstrate the increasingly important role of technology in shaping the decision-making process of consumers.”

    Brick-and-mortar is far from dead, however. In fact, brands need to focus on omnichannel strategies as they remain vital to the shopping experience. The survey finds that 70 percent of Asia-Pacific consumers pick up their items purchased online in-store, while 90 percent of those picking them up decide to buy something else while they’re there.

    “Driven by rapid growth in e-commerce in China, retail landscape is changing significantly. Landlords and retailers need to be more digital-savvy, keeping pace with the latest trends in smartphone applications and social media so they can build a stronger relationship with consumers especially those from Generation Z,” says CBRE China President Ivan Poon. “These digital platforms are two essential mediums of online retailing, which should be integrated into retailers’ omnichannel strategies in order to capture Online-to-Offline (O2O) business opportunities.”

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