Despite this year’s emergence of covid cases and youth unemployment on the rise, Gen Z still remains the biggest consumer group in China, especially in e-commerce. After all, Gen Z consumers now account for 19% of the country’s total population at 260 million. They might be young but they’ll still be the generation that will gain more purchasing power in the next decade.
Gen Z is the generation born from 1997-2012 and are brought up with fast-changing technology and development, with a natural understanding of the internet and social media. Because of this tech familiarity in addition to most of them having started joining the workforce, their purchasing power is getting more and more considerable. Gen Z’s have become one of the key buyers for Double 11.11, and we’re just beginning to understand their consumption potential.
How can brands become attractive to this consumer group? It might be a bit difficult to keep up with Gen Z’s taste, since they are relatively young and they are more dynamic. Additionally, the factors that influence them also change easily. Here’s what you need to apply to your marketing strategy to attract Gen Zs for 2022’s Double 11.
Gen Z’s Preferences: Now and Then
Then: Video Content is Key
Most Gen Z’s spend an average of two hours daily on video entertainment across platforms. As of 2022, video entertainment, both short-form and long-form, is the most used entertainment type that Gen Z consumes.
In fact, Douyin has become a search engine for Gen Z’s, with 40% of Gen Z’s using Douyin (TikTok) as the place to find information not just about daily life, but also about their preferred products. Gen Z’s have three major consumption preferences: experience, beauty, and idols. These three preferences are the major source of 种草 or market seeding for Gen Z’s.
Now: Gen Z’s do research: A LOT
Most of them are now relying on user reviews or testimonial experience and actively research their chosen product, sometimes even doing a deep dive into a company’s CSR policies. This consumer group is focused on product quality more than anything else, so with the information they have available, they also look for others with similar positive experiences.
To take advantage of this factor, brands must work on improving their product reviews across their social media platforms. Good reviews to Gen Z’s are like honey – they are attracted and are more likely to patronize products with glowing reviews. Another way to have good product reviews is to have a good brand story (內容种草) from ordinary users instead of KOLs because organic reviews are more enticing to shrewd GenZs.
This organic brand story also supports brand growth, and since Gen Zs rely heavily on planting grass or market seeding, it is easier for them to get inspired and discover new brands and products.
Blind boxes or mystery boxes have been a hit with Gen Zs recently. In essence, customers purchase a package from a company or brand that contains surprise products. Once received, the customers are treated with a gift-like experience that has grabbed the imagination and fancy of young Chinese consumers.
The blind box craze has been very lucrative, even getting on the same level as escape room games, KTV bars, and internet cafes.
Now: Quality is Key
618 data shows a drastic change in preferences for Gen Zs. There is a marked emphasis on higher quality products, product safety, and premium services. It is ranked as the #1 key consideration among Gen Z’s when it comes to choosing what to buy. According to the data, “value for money is king” for Gen Z’s, and they patronize products that have a justifiable cost with higher qualities and product safety over co-branding, limited editions, or KOL endorsements.
To be specific, they are not looking for cheap products but looking for products with the highest quality for a given price point. Also, in 2022’s 618, young people have become increasingly refined and stingy with their purchases. When asked about the most important factors to consider when they are buying their products, they answered “need in life” and “good value for money”.
To capitalize on this trait, brands must focus on highlighting their goods’ quality. But, of course, being the shrewd consumers that they are, Gen Z’s don’t take a brand’s description of their product easily. A way to counter this is quality testing by 3rd parties, preferably by ordinary people instead of KOLs.
Also, clearly listing out the ingredients and materials of the product is helpful since GenZs are more health and environmentally conscious than other consumer groups. These factors have also affected their purchasing trends based on the 618 data.
Then: Beauty is Everything
GenZs is also the main force behind fashion and beauty trends because of their penchant for appearances. China chic or guochao is the top trend and category for beauty and fashion products that GenZ patronizes, especially with the increasing boom of domestic brands.
Bloomberg considers GenZs as the make-or-break factor for western brands in China, more specifically with beauty and luxury products.
Now: Beauty is still important, but make it more practical
Saving money instead of spending it on appearance-enhancing products is becoming more trendy for GenZs nowadays. While appearances are still important, this consumer group is getting more practical. More to the point, young people’s tendency towards buying only what they need or self-pleasing consumption that promotes shopping for a “better” life and not necessarily an extravagant one is highlighting the importance of practicality with GenZs.
Combined with increasingly being stingy and discerning on what they want to buy, data shows that GenZs prefer necessity goods that highlight CP value. Additionally, spiritual satisfaction is another important facet that drives them to choose what product to patronize – a balance between what they want and what is ultimately more fulfilling to them holistically.
To relate to this consumer group, brands need to emphasize the necessity of their products and how they are essential to customers’ daily lives. With this, they are subtly promoting their products – one that could improve their daily lives not just physically but also spiritually.
Things have changed drastically in China’s e-commerce scene and even faster among the growing consumer group – the Gen Zs. What worked before may no longer effectively work with this group, especially given how dynamic they are and their personalities. Coupled with the fact that they can easily change with technology, keeping up with Gen Z customers is important to appeal to this huge consumer base.
To keep being relevant with Gen Zs, brands need to improve their product reviews (like having a good brand story that stems from the ordinary consumer), focus on highlighting the quality of their goods with 3rd party testimonies, and, aside from merely focusing on beauty, a holistic experience should also be emphasized (a balance between the product and how it can make the consumer’s life better).
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