Why International Brands Can’t Ignore Culture In China

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For any global luxury brands who may think that that China-specific products, Chinese-language service, and marketing strategies informed by a deep understanding of local customs and culture are superfluous to success in China, a recent report by JWT Intelligence entitled “Meet the BRIC Millennials” is worth a close evaluation.

The report found that even with the substantial influence of globalization, younger generations in the BRIC countries still find it overwhelmingly important to hold onto key aspects of their country’s culture and traditions, and of all four BRIC countries, the sentiment is strongest in China in several respects.

“Millennials are strongly invested in preserving their national customs, as well as their family’s traditions,” states the report. As is shown in the chart at the top of the page, nine out of 10 Chinese millennials believe family traditions are important, and 88 percent say they are proud of their national traditions and customs—the highest percentage of all the BRIC countries.

While it’s true that global youth culture has a special pull—74 percent of Chinese millennials said they have more in common with their age group globally than with the domestic older generation—they aren’t willing to give up on certain traditions. English may be a trendy language in China, but a full 83 percent of them say that they wish to keep their country’s language despite globalization. In addition, substantially more than half want to keep traditions related to cuisine, stories and folklore, music, and religious observations. Luxury clothing brands should also take note that 52 percent don’t want to let go of traditional clothing styles.

Screen shot 2013-10-08 at 11.58.26 AMWhile it’s true that this report only covers a very specific age group, anyone that has spent time in China should know that if these sentiments are this strong for millennials, brands trying to target the country’s older generation certainly can’t afford to ignore the importance of culture and tradition.

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