In honor of the Beijing, Olympics taking place over the next 2 weeks, Label Networks has rounded up some top stories, data, trending reports, and news from our field researchers and reporters from Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai to deliver a multi-layered approach to what’s taking shape in the new largest consumer market in the world.
While the Beijing, Olympics proves to be the country’s coming out party, despite various protests in their humanitarian policies, media censorship, and incredibly bad air quality, there are many aspects from the next 2 weeks of Olympic coverage that will give new hype to China, and influence patterns in fashion, sports, technology, and lifestyles based on the attention given to the world’s largest country. With 1.3 billion people and an estimated spending power of $3.3 trillion, including a rapidly growing middle class and an entirely new generation that has grown up with a strong sense of consumerism, China is by far one of the most important country to track in terms of market trends and patterns.
China Fashion and Online Shopping Patterns
Starting with online shopping patterns and fashion in general (see also Label Networks story on new Olympic sneaker trends for the Beijing Games), there are many important characteristics and preferences among 15-25-year-olds in China, particularly among the middle-to-upper class across Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai, based on results from our 3rd annual China Youth Culture Study 2008. Overall, when compared with our other Global Youth Culture Studies, including Europe, Japan, and North America, the changes from the China past studies have been the most significant, indicating that China is the marketplace undergoing the greatest changes across the board, particularly in fashion and shopping patterns.
In this section, we take a look at ales vs. females when it comes to their online shopping habits. Based on a representative sampling across all 3 cities among 15-25-year-olds, when asked “Which best describes your online shopping habits?” The top percentages overall for females were 34.8% that say I don’t shop online because I prefer shopping in stores, compared with 33.8% of males. However even though this is the highest percentages, it’s important to look also at the other characteristics because clearly young people are moving to shopping online and certain changes indicate market opportunities.
For example, 18.1% of females say I don’t shop online because I don’t trust it compared with 16% of males. As the trust factor continues to improve, as it does usually as more new markets move to buying online, you can expect that youth culture will also move this way. In addition, credit cards are heavily targeting 18-25-year-olds across China with personalized cards becoming all the rage and no payment plans for up to the first 3 months for new users.
Other interesting characteristics about online shopping by gender is that a higher percentage of females say I shop for everything online compared with males, but females are slightly more discerning in that they have higher percentages that check out prices and only shop online if they can’t find it at their local store. One of the most indicative traits of online shopping is that clearly more males would shop online if they had access to credit cards with 15.2% saying I don’t shop online because I don’t have access to a credit card compared with only 9.7% of females.
Overall, by gender, there are distinct differences in shopping online, but it can be said that market opportunities exist especially in terms of gaining their trust with buying online, finding deals (which is more important for young females), and getting access to a credit card or prepaid plans -particularly among young males.
What’s also interesting about the results to this question, when asked for example, their top favorite stores to shop in, Footlocker came up as one of the top preferred shoe stores. The irony is that Footlocker is only just now moving to opening stores in mainland China, yet it is already a preferred store because young people are buying footwear, particularly sneakers, online.
Importance of the Color Red
You can expect red to be the main color in most collections inspired by China for Spring ’09 street fashion trends -not only from the top designers coming out of China, such as Vintage China denim and their red stitching, to Eno designs, among others. “Red will be a major hit this year because of Olympics and it will be one lead color for fashion this year throughout many Asian countries,” explains our China research manager, Magdalene Koh. This can be seen clearly for example at this site: http://www.1626.com/cms/html/1626/gz/20080130/3983.html Even for credit card banks, their slogan has the word “RED” in it. So expect this for Fall 2008 and Spring ’09 fashion influences from China: http://creditcard.cmbchina.com/
Music, the Urban Vinyl Scene, Lei Feng, Super Girls
Other notable trends include Peng Lei’s influence in fashion and music from the band New Pants, one of the original punk and neo-rock bands from Beijing. He also owns an urban vinyl toy store in Beijing. Just 5 years ago, such a store would never have existed because the disposable income wasn’t there among young consumers, not to mention the whole sneaker/toy collectible culture. Other bands that influencing fashion include Hard Queen, a girl’s rock band, and of course the legendary Jay Chow with hip-hop
While Beijing is known for amazing new music and bands, Shanghai has the reputation for fashion and design, much of which is inspired by the girls from the show Super Girls (like American Idol). To give you some sense in how much of an impact this show has, in the season finale, it attracted more than 420 million users. This is the highest rating for a TV show, well, like, ever. It’s more than the entire population of Great Britain and the USA combined. The male version of this show, which is growing, is called Good Men and setting fashionable young male trends in its wake. The best way to see what these girls and guys are wearing and therefore how some pop trends are being adopted is doing a search on Super Girls on YouTube because unlike censorship in China of American shows, the Chinese authorities love to show their shows to Americans.
Other highlights coming out of Shanghai specifically are the growing selection of very cool boutiques. For example, X Shop on Moganshan Rd.; Younik on the Bund; Layefe, a concept store in Xintuandi area; The Gloss which carries Paul Frank to Freitag bags; The Thing which carries independent Chinese fashion designers are all a part of this burgeoning scene.
Another strong fashion statement that has actually popped up on various runways in London and New York is the rising popularity of the Lei Feng style hat. Lei Feng was a legendary leader of young Chinese in the Communist party, who died in 1962 at the age 22. His memory has been preserved as a self-less leader and important youth culture hero. The type of hat that he wore has now become a fashion staple for many young people throughout China, while Lei Feng, the words themselves, have become an expression or noun meaning that you are caring and selfless and think of others.
Largest Market of Online Users: Blogging, Patterns, Trends
While in the USA, younger generations are often referred to as Generation Y or Z, in China, they are referred to as the After %u201880’s or After %u201890’s generation. Some key characteristics about this generation include:
The After %u201880’s and After %u201890’s represent the largest market of online users in the world, which has created an entirely new consumer demographic globally. Interestingly however, many young people in China use the internet in a different way than Westerners. Since most After %u201880’s and After %u201890’s people are part of the 1-child rule in China, young people mostly use the internet for social interaction. This is one reason why MMRPG games are so popular among young people in China. In addition, anime is an important part of online entertainment as well -which has also greatly influenced fashion (as it has Japan, and now, the U.S.).
- Show wealth: After %u201880’s and After %u201890’s also like to show their wealth:
- Young people are very into owning MP3’s, Digital Cameras, and various Electronics and showing them off
- Travel is Key -London, New York, LA -which has influenced fashion and style among this new generation of wealthy consumers
- Brand Conscious -more so than most other countries (on par with the burgeoning youth culture in Russia) as brands are making their way into China
Websites and YouTube shows such as Neocha.com, the social online network for up-and-coming bands, artists, and fashionistas are having an impact on youth culture -particularly street fashion and sneaker trends. In addition, Danwei TV which is online has made the connection between young people in the West and young people in China, particularly Beijing where the show is mostly filmed. Each clip takes you into a different aspect of the cultural differences of China youth culture, often with funny interviews and insightful street reporting by the host ShuFei.
“After %u201890’s” gen however, is clearly moving into the limelight as the growing middle class of young people continues to emerge. As reported by Label Networks’ China manager, Magdalene Koh, there are important distinctions between the After %u201880’s marketplace and After %u201890’s. The %u201880’s are mostly single children of the family; wholly and solely receiving all the love and attention. They were swamped by the waves of the new changes in China market, i.e. improvement of environment, upgrading of living standard and with a more open path in receiving latest updated information from media or internet. The results are a massive generation gap in lifestyle traits, spending patterns, fashion, and of course technology. In addition, this generation has been introduced to credit cards and as we’ve seen in the last 3 China Youth Culture Studies, continues to perpetuate the growth of online sales in fashion, electronics, sneaker culture, and accessories.
The “After 80s” kids are very into new ideas, blogging, being online as a social activity, and showing that life is good. Their lifestyle reflects more a free-form attitude that they are happy and lucky to be born when they were. All the above causes plus the influences from media and advertisement, has made the “After 80s” group develop a very strong concept on enjoying a good lifestyle. Thus they tend to be attracted to luxurious goods and are very brand conscious. They own things like computers, MP3, digital cameras, and other digital products, which are common belongings and they take pleasure in entertainment and traveling. In order to cater to such needs, various companies and banks have specially designed series of products and personality credit cards.
In contrast, the “After %u201890s” generation likes to show off their wealth. This is obviously a younger generation, but equally as compelling. This website very significantly shows how a kid of the %u201890s is like: http://news.qq.com/a/20071112/000185.htm. The %u201890s kids very typically are selfish and care for themselves more. The pictures show a girl of the %u201890s who is showing off her wealth and being critical about the people who cannot afford to spend money. They are the lucky ones who are born in a more wealthy time of China. From earlier on since last October, a kid was named the “Money Burning Guy” because he uploaded a series of photos showing him burning money notes. Another incident was about the “Accord Girl,” a girl of the %u201890s used her Accord car to knock down someone else’s QQ because she was not fast enough. Now comes the “Showy Girl of the %u201890s,” they all reflect the same problem. The %u201890s love to show off what they have physically.
Overall, as more young people in the After %u201880s and After %u201890’s groups become the new leaders of consumerism and communication, often through blogs, social networks, and social exchanges through multi-player games, this is changing the face of China. As predicated, China has more people online than America -most of whom are coming from the After %u201880’s and After %u201890s generations. What this means for global youth culture is that China will continue to play a larger role in future trends and knowing what’s going on there indicates how things may change in other parts of Asia and the world at large.