What Brands Must Know About China’s Evolving Millennial Buyers

What Brands Must Know About China’s Evolving Millennial Buyers

There are over 400 million of them, and they have growing standards for what they will buy.

Earlier this year, climate activist Greta Thunberg called out fast fashion consumers during an interview with a fashion magazine. She said, “If you are buying fast fashion, then you are contributing to that industry and encouraging them to expand and encouraging them to continue their harmful process.” 

The consequences of fast fashion—water wastage, global warming, inhuman labor conditions and more—have opened consumers’ eyes. It has urged them to change their shopping habits. This is reflected in the choices of Chinese millennial buyers today. Here are some ways the millennial shoppers in China have changed:

For one, they are more patriotic than before

The sentiment of shopping locally took over the world during Covid. China was no exception. The current Chinese Gen-Z and millennial generations are more patriotic than the previous ones. So much so that when world-renowned fast fashion company H&M declared that it doesn’t source its cotton from Xinjiang because of human rights and labor violations, Chinese consumers boycotted the brand for attempting to defame the nation. Many national e-commerce sites removed H&M from their platforms. Its sales fell by 23%, and the brand had to shut 20 outlets in China. 

According to the Chief E-commerce Officer for Greater China at Publicis Communications Cyril Drouin, Chinese consumers want to buy local products owing to growing “nationalism”. Though Chinese brands offer limited choice in luxury goods, they continue to “dominate” in the fashion category. In fact, a PwC survey of Chinese buyers over 18 revealed that 37% of respondents preferred buying domestic brands. So, for brands that want to expand their business to China, it is necessary to consider the patriotic sentiments of their target audience. 

Secondly, they are more eco-conscious

A McKinsey survey of Chinese consumer behavior post-Covid-19 showed that 64% of respondents would buy a product that was environmentally friendly over one that wasn’t. For many Chinese consumers, sustainability is an integral factor in determining a purchase. In keeping with these changing tastes, various local brands have invested in CleanTech and other eco-conscious solutions to meet this demand. 

Mindfulness is also becoming an underlying trait among Chinese consumers. They care about where a brand sources its materials from and where it manufactures their products. Over 50% of modern Chinese buyers would rent or buy second-hand products if that meant lessening their impact on the planet. So, if you want to grow your business among China’s millennials, review how you are sourcing, manufacturing and even marketing your products. In the end, the processes must satisfy the buyers’ newfound eco-conscious sensibilities. 

The new Chinese millennial is eco-conscious, patriotic and mindful. They are not afraid to cold-shoulder your brand if it doesn’t align with their values. The founder of Yu Holdings Wendy Yu said in an interview, “More than ever, I noticed a collective consciousness emerging. Even in China—a country known for its consumption and an insatiable appetite for luxury—the mood is changing. And it all starts with education.”

Header Image by Unsplash

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Alinda Gupta
I am a professional journalist and gourmand with an inexplicable love for caffeine. I admire old architecture and find comfort in fiction books. I am also an A1-level certified French speaker—bonne journée!

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