Rule-breaking Chinese Millennials are fueling trends that give them some common ground with Millennials in the U.S….
We’ve written before about rule-breaking Chinese Millennials, globally-minded spenders who are breaking traditions. The generation is set to drive China’s consumption over the next 10 years—but not all brands are successfully appealing to them. Too many are approaching the young consumers using outdated notions of the country. Dolce & Gabbana’s recent “D&G Loves China” campaign featured the “rough edges” of China and its most famous (and most touristy) clichés, resulting in ads some are calling “tone-deaf” and “offensive.” Experts say Western brands are repeatedly romanticizing an old version of China when Millennials want to see the modern country they know and love.
While there’s no mistaking that Millennials in the U.S. and China have notable differences, and traditions, there are still many threads that unite them. Both groups grew up in a digital world and expect seamless digital interactions built into their everyday interactions. The younger generations in both countries have also both become known for refusing to conform to established societal norms. And now we’re seeing that certain trends are resonating with both groups. Chinese Millennials are looking forward, and fueling some new shifts that put them on common ground with their U.S. counterparts. Here are 3 western trends being embraced by the generation:
Millennials love for wine is changing the industry. While they may only make up 29% of wine drinkers in the world, they account for 34% of total wine consumed. Wine wins out as one of U.S. Millennials’ favorite alcoholic drinks, and Chinese Millennials are joining their ranks. The generation is reportedly opting for Western wines over traditional rice-based alcohols. Analysts predict the total consumption of grape-based wine in China will rise 6% in the next decade, and overall growth of China’s alcohol industry will rise 5% in its wake. And while those over 45 make up over half of the consumption of Chinese white spirits, they only account for 27% of wine’s—meaning that as Millennials mature, the shift in preference and its effect on the industry will become more pronounced. Thanks to young wine-lovers, “Future wine industry revenue growth in China will be mainly driven by imported wine.”
Fit has gone glam for Millennials—and not just in the U.S. Young Chinese women are embracing working out, and shifting traditional beauty ideals. In a 2003 survey, 1,000 working females cited an ideal body to be “an almost-emaciated, willowy physique,” but social media and celebrity influence, as well as more awareness to physical health, are making strength the new goal. Women sharing their fitness journeys are becoming major influencers and creating new personal brands, and the fitness industry in China has grown 13% yearly since 2010. But it’s not just women. According to Straits Times, “Having grown up with social media, Chinese Millennials put a greater premium on looking good, and a good physique is now associated with virtues such as perseverance and self-discipline.” Their new values have caused a gym-explosion in the country, with memberships doubling since 2008 to reach 6.6 million last year, and the number of gyms increasing from 300 in 2001 to 37,000 today. The trend is also impacting the retail industry, with the sportswear market growing 11% annually—far faster than the U.S.
U.S. Millennials love coffee. Millennials love coffee. According to the National Coffee Association, daily coffee consumption has risen 14% among 18-24-year-olds and 9% for 25-39-year-olds in the U.S. since 1998. Older groups saw declines in consumption in the same time range. They specifically like cold, sweet coffee, with iced coffee and cold brew sales taking off thanks to the generation—and now the trend is taking off in China. According to Bloomberg, Starbucks is moving east as Chinese Millennials start to drink coffee over “more traditional tea.” While tea sales beat out coffee by ten to one in the country, overall Chinese coffee consumption is growing 16% a year—which mirrors Japan’s conversion to coffee in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Now, Japan is the fourth largest coffee consumer in the world. If Starbucks can make Chinese Millennials love them as much as those in the U.S. do, they might just have the largest tea-drinking country in the world buying their “trendy Western beverage[s].” Right now, they’re preferring sweetened instant and flavored coffee drinks, making Starbuck’s Frappuccinos the perfect gateway beverage—and a look at the brand’s Weibo page shows that icy, flavored drinks are definitely favored. Last month, the brand signed a $1.2 billion deal to take over more than 1,000 shops to root themselves firmly in the country as interest grows and taste expands.
Millennials in the U.S. are known as the Wanderlust Generation, and Chinese Millennials share their desire to explore the world. Young travelers in China are a “lucrative market” according to one expert: “Chinese Millennials are likely to travel farther afield – and to spend more while traveling—as their disposable incomes and appetite for adventure grow.” Recently, Airbnb launched Aibiying, a new brand to target Chinese Millennials. The company’s research has shown an increase of 142% of travel out of China in 2016, and 80% of their users in the country are under 35. Aibiying, which translates to “Welcome each other with love,” will include the brand’s latest “Trips” and “Experiences” features.