Many members of China’s infamous generation of wealthy children known as the fuerdai (富二代), known for their penchant for expensive cars and wine, can’t really be called “children” anymore as the reach their 20’s and even 30’s. Some have started having children of their own, and naturally, the media has taken to calling them the fusandai (富三代), China’s newest group of “little emperors.” Although they’re still only children, brands and marketers are already speculating about what this future generation might inherit from its parents, whose stereotypes as spoiled and self-centered make them almost reviled among the Chinese public. A recent Chinese finance column 21CN Finance has even taken to calling the fusandai the “main core group of luxury consumers of the future.”
The terms fuerdai and fusandai literally translate to “wealthy second generation” and “wealthy third generation,” respectively. The fuerdai are typically categorized as the generation born in the 80’s to early 90’s to wealthy Chinese businesspeople. Those born to rich bureaucrats are often given the even more insidious label of guanerdai (官二代). Stories of the extravagant lifestyles of the fuerdai and guanerdai are extensively covered in the Chinese media, causing the general public to hold disdain for them as a group. When it comes to guanerdai, this is often done for political reasons, and international media has picked up on stories like that of Li Qiming, son of district deputy public security chief Li Gang, who proclaimed himself above the law when he was involved in a hit-and-run. Even more highly publicized was the scandal that ensued when Chinese media scrutinized the alleged extravagant lifestyle of Bo Guagua, the son of ousted Central Politburo member Bo Xilai.
While the fusandai are most likely not making headlines yet because they’re either still in cribs or attending elementary school, their generation has attracted the attention of businesses eager to sell to their generous parents. According to 21CN Finance, the fuerdai parents of the fusandai do not skimp on their parenting, just as they were doted upon themselves, and would think nothing of spending 8,000 yuan ($1,300) on a Dior baby sweater. The column’s resident adviser Huang Yuhan says that fuerdai parents do not lack opportunity to lavish their children with gifts—they celebrate not only birthdays of their fusandai, but also Children’s Day and what is known as the “100th-day birthday (百日宴).”
Not only do they don luxury apparel, but the fusandai also enjoy growing up in a lifestyle of luxury. According to Chinese wiki site Baike, the elite kindergartens that little emperors and empresses are sent to cost 58,000 yuan ($9,350) a year, compared to a regular kindergarten’s average cost of 12,000 yuan a year ($1,900). Unlike the fuerdai, whose parents are considered to have slogged hard to go from rags to riches, the fusandai are born into finery from the cradle.
It seems then that the fusandai are surely accustomed to a life no less than luxurious. With especially accommodating parents and an easy early life, it is not hard to see why luxury businesses see potential in these young ones and view them as the core customer base of the future. However, whether or not they will be able to break free of the negative connotations of their fuerdai parents remains to be seen.