Reading A Book of Paradoxes
China Youth Trends and Business
By Lisa Li and Zafka Zhang
Can young people feel connected to brands? If so, has anyone figured out where those
connections exist and what they mean? It may be easy to pick up on the latest trends
and find out what’s hot among youth. Just knowing what is popular doesn’t make that
information useful to your brand and your marketing efforts. China Youthology is
devoted to make these connections more tangible to marketers, advertisers, designers
and other innovators who want to connect their products and services to youth in China.
Trend reports have dubious reputations. In the marketing world, trend research is
usually criticized for lacking practical, actionable recommendations to marketing
decisions, ‘only scratching the surface’ or ‘not representative’. We, however, feel
confident talking about changes in young Chinese consumers - and what it means to
brands - due to numerous presentations given to marketing teams of big companies
targeting youth. These companies include Nestle, Johnson & Johnson, Pepsico Foods,
Pernod Ricard, and world leading ad agencies such as OgilvyOne, TBWA, McCann
Ericson, and Dentsu. The questions and comments we received have helped us refine
this report. And the positive feedback has encouraged us to write it up a more readable
format, to share and discuss with you.
Who are we talking about?
By youth, we mean 18 to 30 yrs. They are university students and young working
The trends in this paper are only relevant to the more developed cities in China (Tier 1
and Tier 2 cities). The diversity in China makes it impossible to capture trends across
geography and city tiers.
These 5 trends presented here are strongly manifested among the early adopters and
early majority. At the same time, they are increasingly prominent among the mass
What kind of trends?
The trends we are t