Bryce Whitwam
Jan 4, 2023

More tangible brand connections are needed in post-zero-Covid China

SHANGHAI ZHAN PODCAST: With the end of zero-Covid policies in China, brands should look for more meaningful consumer connections that help to resolve potential anxieties, says China insights expert, Julien Lapka, Founder of Inner Chapter.

Shutterstock:2022 China Resources Mixc, Haikou, Hainan
Shutterstock:2022 China Resources Mixc, Haikou, Hainan

“People are looking for brands to give them some type of coping mechanism given all the changes that have been happening,” says Inner Chapter’s Julien Lapka. “This has been amplified with the Covid lockdowns.”

Lapka sees a lot of firsts happening to Chinese over the past year: A potential recession, the Covid lockdown, and now the recent anxiety caused through the sudden end of zero-Covid policies. Unemployment for fresh graduates is also hovering around 20%.

“A powerful, feel-good film isn’t going to help Chinese youth get jobs,” says Lapka. “Why can’t a make-up or fashion brand help fresh graduates with their job interview skills?”

“Generating goodwill will be key for brands in 2023,” says Lapka, “because people are getting tired of being told to buy the next big thing, especially when they have less money.”

Lapka expects categories such as pet food, toys and sportswear to continue to grow post-pandemic.  “People are looking for little moments of personal well-being and a bit of emotional downtime. The lockdown accelerated this trend, and it will continue past the zero-Covid era,” says Lapka.

Lapka also expects a huge spike in travel now that the restrictions have been lifted. “Travel for Chinese is a big part of feeling optimistic, which was diminished over the past two years due to the lockdowns because everyone was stuck at home. Travel gives people a window to new learning and the ability to discover new things, ” says Lapka.

Julien Lapka’s season one finale interview is available on the Shanghai Zhan podcast, a "raw, lively, and regular debate about China tech, advertising, creativity and the intersection of it all", hosted by Ali Kazmi and Bryce Whitwam.

The podcast is now available now on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogleStitcherAmazon Music, Xiao Yu Zhou and via RSS.

Campaign Asia

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