If there was any doubt how large a role brands like WeChat, Apple, and Xiaomi play in the lives of young Chinese consumers, a new report by RTG Consulting Group should eliminate it. Its 2016 RTG Brand Relevance Report ranked top brands among consumers between the ages of 15 and 32, split into two groups: Generation Y (those born after 1980) and Generation Z (those born after 1995). The top 10 most relevant brands for Gen-Y consumers were Apple, WeChat, Alipay, Taobao, Adidas, Zara, Nike, Uniqlo, Baidu, and H&M, in order of relevance. The Gen-Z group had a slightly different response, instead ranking Xiaomi the as number one brand, followed by Adidas, Nike, Uniqlo, Zara, Converse, WeChat, Samsung, Apple, and New Balance.
The research was compiled using a survey of 4,000 consumers, covering brands in six industries: fashion, electronics, technology, mobile apps, cars, and food and beverage. RTG looked at not only what were the most relevant brands overall, but what brands consumers felt were most relevant to them within the individual categories. For instance, WeChat came out on top for both generations in the mobile app category, but differed in ranking when it came to comparing brands overall. In some individual categories, such as electronics and food and beverage, age mattered when it came to brand preferences.
“The results were surprising as there were a number of brands we did not expect to see ranked in the top 10, and some we were even more surprised did not rank at all,” said Angelito Tan Jr., CEO of RTG Consulting Group. “It certainly goes to show how if brands do not pay attention to how the fast the market landscape can change, they risk not being relevant to today’s consumers.”
Brands that came out on top revealed not only preferences between generations, but trends within categories as a whole. Within the fashion category, for instance, Adidas ranked number one as most relevant to both Gen-Y and Gen-Z respondents, suggesting that athleisure is still extremely important to Chinese consumers. The brands listed as most relevant were overwhelmingly sportswear and fitness related—Nike and New Balance were listed in the top 10, while fast-fashion brands like H&M and Uniqlo took the other top spots.
Despite its sales revenue struggles within China, Apple still ranks as extremely relevant this year—it’s number one within the technology category, but only in the case of Gen-Y consumers. And while Apple is still in Gen-Z’s top 10 most relevant brands, Samsung ranks higher. While electronic devices ranked number one in both groups, fashion brands were ranked higher in relevance for Gen-Z consumers, while technology companies were more critical to Gen-Y consumers. Alipay and Taobao led in the tech rankings, followed by Amazon. In terms of apps, Didi Chuxing, Uber, Ctrip, and Dianping made both lists.
In the car category, Volkswagen came out on top. For the other top five spots, Gen-Z and Gen-Y came out with similar responses, with the only difference being Hyundai is more relevant for Gen-Z, replacing Gen-Y’s Mercedes Benz.