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Want to export to China? Focus on the Z-lennials for B2C marketing

By Antonio Acunzo

China is the engine of global economic growth. The second largest global economy, after the US, is evolving into a sophisticated country, and on track to become the largest economy of the world thanks to 2 key drivers of this growth: the Made in China 2025 plan and the Belt & Road Initiative.

As a matter of fact, the Chinese economy has been transformed from a third world country model into a global player in less than 40 years, from an economy in need of every primary product and service to a dynamic economy, oriented towards exports and domestic consumption, with the presence of a middle class that today includes a base of 400 million people, becoming more and more sophisticated and with a higher spending capacity for non-primary goods (indeed China is today the fastest growing luxury market in the world).

The demographics of the new target of consumers widen and get segmented to include the young and growing target of Gen Z, also called Z-lennials (those born between 1997 and 2002) and that in 2020 will represent as many as 40% of all consumers Chinese. It’s a privileged generation that has benefited from the economic progress of the last 20 years, and that has grown surrounded by luxury brands and luxury products.

Globally-aware, Z-lennials are heavily connected and tech-savvy, use smartphones for at least 8 hours a day, are avid users of social media not only to communicate but to learn about products and services that are promoted through channels such as WeChat, totally oriented to e-commerce (mobile commerce represented 80% of all online shopping transactions made in 2017) and willing to pay more for a fast delivery, and even more for a same-day delivery.

The have a stable life, compared to their parents and previous generations who grew up in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution and at the beginning of the Open Door Policy, and their mindset has been shaped with Western consumption values and culture.

They are often bilingual (English), study in universities abroad (USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore, UK) and, above all, they showcase a marked individual identity characteristic much more marked than the more widely-spread group of the Millennials (those born in the early 1980s), which includes a base of 415 million consumers, with different lifestyles, consumption and aspirations compared to previous generations of Chinese consumers (in practice their parents in the Maoist era), and who now often travels abroad and have a university or grad school education.

Definitely the new kid on the block for marketing, the Z-lennials are one of the most important consumers groups to connect with due to its being a more consumption-oriented and trendy generation, with a strong propensity for luxury, and who enjoys living comfortably.

Hence marketing to them is more and more a strategic priority for companies in the luxury segments of fashion, accessories, and fragrances; for design and home décor companies; for gourmet foods and fine wines products; for products in the high-end consumer goods category; for all specialty luxury propositions; for travel, hospitality and leisure providers.