Distinctive China’s Post-90 Generation

There’s been a generation shift in China. Young Chinese in their twenties have more consume desires, more individualistic working attitudes and different values than their parents.

The Consumer Generation

Having been brought up in relative prosperity, the youngest generation is often seen as wasteful, consumerist and brainwashed by major brands when it comes to their purchasing patterns. In terms of consumption though, the post-90s consider themselves selective and aware. According to a report from Horizon Research Group, the young generation states that style and design, brand, type, colour, size and price all influence their buying decisions.

Only 13.3% of those surveyed reported that a brand was the first factor they considered when shopping, while 65.2% took both brand and practicality into account when making a purchase. 70% said they considered both quality and price in shopping decisions, while 47.3% viewed the product’s style and design as important.

Post-90s feel it is important to be fashionable and express an individual style. A sizeable 42.4% have shopped online at least once, and those who shopped online spent 193 yuan more on average each month than those who did not.

Post-90s tend to use the Internet even more than other cohorts, and not just for shopping but also to a great extent for gathering information, reviews, and advice. The personal micro blogs of stylish Internet celebrities and online communities are more important than traditional media when it comes to setting trends. At the same time the brands most valued by post-90s are those that communicate with them through surveys, instant giveaways, and branded activities which give young customers a chance to showcase themselves with their peers, such as contests where winners are featured in a real-life fashion magazines or additional online activities.

A High Salary Is Not Enough

The post-90s might be game changers when it comes to work attitudes in China. As post-90s enter the labour market, it is becoming apparent that they have a more individualistic attitude toward work. The perception of what is seen as a “good job” has changed. A high salary and status were the major characteristics valued by the post-70s generation. Young Chinese born after 1980 value work-life balance and a respectful environment in the office. The post-90s are even less tolerant of working overtime and more oriented toward meaningful work which matches individual strengths and talents. China’s young job-seekers prioritize personal happiness and freedom over anything else.

Changing jobs frequently and working overtime is still very common among young Chinese. Those under 25 are the group least dedicated to their jobs. The loyalty shown by young employees in China to their companies is the lowest in the BRICS group of emerging nations that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. According to research by the Mycos Institute, only 40% of China’s post-90s workers stay in their job for longer than two years. Within a time frame of three years, 8% has four or more different jobs.

What is the main problem of the post-90 workers that leads to all this job-hopping and sleepless nights? Is the pressure on China’s job market too much to handle for this only-child generation?

The biggest obstacle to overcome for them is the fact that there’s a big gap between what the post-90s imagine their work to be and what the reality is. China’s post-90s have several heavy burdens to shoulder: difficulties in finding a good job, and rising prices in the real-estate market. Furthermore, they are their parent’s only hope for a successful family future, and will be the sole care providers for their elderly parents in a few decades. What’s more, they usually have little working experience before graduation. Therefore, it is often hard for them to find a satisfying job.

A More Western Generation

Post-90s realities have yielded a more grounded generation of doers. They are focused on the present, living in the moment. They crave “experience” over master-of-the-universe achievement. They bristle at constricted definitions of success. According to a J. Walter Thompson study on BRIC Millennials, 27% of Chinese aged 15-25 now agree that an investment in a “gap year” represents good “life experience.” More broadly, they “search for meaning” through travel, crave global connections and a wider array of role models.

The post-90s generation doesn’t have much sense of hierarchy. They are very comfortable chatting with their superiors, something which was hardly seen in former young employees of earlier generations. At the workplace, the post-90s generation also seems to show greater confidence. They like to be given the chance to prove themselves and expect recognition for their efforts. They are willing to try out new ideas and believe that they can do anything well if it is worthy of their time. 

Author: Elisabeth Deng