Angie Chan
Jan 20, 2011

Five things you need to know about China's youth in 2011

Angie Chan, senior research manager for Greater China at Starcom Hong Kong, says 2011 will be a year of introspection for Chinese consumers and Chinese youth in particular.

Angie Chan
Angie Chan

Without the distractions of major events like the Olympics, the World Cup or the Expo, there will be a shift in the refocusing of the self, leading to a year of personal enjoyment and personal expression.

These themes are grounded in Starcom China’s youth surveillance consumer research which gathered feedback from close to 1,000 young consumers aged 16 to 29 across 54 markets in China.

The following five points for 2011 are less about trends and more about truths that will not go out of style any time soon.

1. The year of evolving screens. In China, there has been a shift in viewing dynamics where the internet has become a facilitator of the total experience. It is about passive TV becoming active. For some, the internet is a replacement for TV while for others it is an addition to TV. For the Chinese youth, the internet is a critical screen as they maintain an ongoing dialogue with their online network while watching TV. 

Brands should consider owning not only TV and internet screens, but also mobile screens - the one screen to which all youth in every tier have access, frequently. 

Screens now come in all shapes and sizes, including TV screens, computer screens, interactive OOH screens, mobile screens and 3D screens.

2. The year of sexuality. Previously taboo topics will be brought to light. The Chinese government and leaders will adopt an ‘if you can’t beat them, keep them safe’ mentality and focus instead on growing sex education, acceptance and comfort.

The main source of sex education for the Chinese youth is the internet, especially bulletin boards (BBS) and forums. The youth is not shying away from the topic, but instead embracing sexuality into their lives.

Being such an unapproachable topic for parents, it may actually be up to brands to both entertain and teach them.

3. The year of technologicality. This year brands will get creative with the multitude of new introductions into the world of technology as they strive to introduce the biggest, brightest and coolest ads. Expect an increase in augmented reality, 3D and interactive activations in 2011.

The ease and speed of technology will also allow the development of a ‘one world’ concept as never before. Brands should think of ways to continue this mentality by igniting interest in other countries and cultures, for example setting up meet-and-greets for youth to meet others outside of China to explore different countries.

4. The year of the superboy. With the emergence of the ‘supergirl’, ambitious, young, career driven females out to conquer the world, China’s young males will be forced to step up their efforts. Personal care, grooming and adornment will come to light as young males try to compete.

2010 already saw the introduction of men’s haircare and personal grooming lines in China. Through research we have found that men’s number one reason for looking good is increasing their confidence in the workplace. 

But even outside the workplace, with 30 million more men than women in China, the competition is stiff. Having a competitive edge over other young men – even if it’s just a psychological boost – will surely be much sought after.

5. The year of the sporting life. The wealth of sports coverage over the past few years has made sports front and centre in the minds of Chinese consumers, encouraging a lifestyle for personal fitness, health and wellness, and pleasure in 2011.

Youth seeking new experiences are shifting their interest to off-the-beaten-track sports like hiking and rock-climbing. As a relationship-oriented society, team sports are extremely important. However, interest in small group activities and even individual activities are emerging.

Other sports (or activities) such as break dancing, in-line skating and dancing are also popular and will become even more so next year.

In conclusion. With the Chinese youth refocusing their energy on personal enjoyment and personal expression, brands need to think of ways to appeal to these needs. How can we aid our youth and support their desires, interests and ambitions in 2011, the year of introspection?

Campaign China

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