Novomania: Le Temps Des Cerises Booth
Novomania: Le Temps Des Cerises Booth

03 Jan. 2014

China’s Generation Y

China’s young generation enjoys consumption. We wanted to know what that means in detail and how it influences the fashion business. The experts we asked are closely attached to the Chinese market as they organize the three main fashion trade shows for streetwear, denim and contemporary fashion: Flora Wangfang of Chic/Chic Young Blood in Beijing, Richard Hobbs of The Hub in Hong Kong and Guilherme Faria of Novomania in Shanghai. Interview by Sabine Kühnl and Tatjana von Elverfeldt

 Flora Wangfang of Chic/Chic Young Blood in Beijing,
Flora Wangfang of Chic/Chic Young Blood in Beijing,
How would you describe the young market in China today?

Flora Wangfang (FW): The term of “young market” in China differs to foreign countries. The reason is that the majority of our domestic “young market” refers to the Generation Y. These ’80s and ’90s are at the same age as in other countries but between these ages is a remarkably cultural and social difference. Those ’80s and ’90s were brought up under the influence of social programs such as the “one-child” policy. This contributed to a more independent thinking and personal growth value. A completely new behavior emerged compared to the post-’60s and -’70s. According to the 2012 network consumer transaction data, they spend more than 11,000 RMB (€1,100) per year. About 90% of the ’80s-born consumer have online experience. More than 60% online consumers in China belong to the ’80s. That is far ahead of any other general consumer. The annual spending of online shopping of the ’80s summed up to 10,000 RMB (€1,000) a year.

Richard Hobbs (RH): To put it in one word I would say they are “hungry.” They are becoming aware of youth cultures around the world and want to embrace those as well as show their own individuality.

Richard Hobbs of The Hub in Hong Kong
Richard Hobbs of The Hub in Hong Kong
Where do you see the young market heading?

RH: There is a huge gap in the middle, which is just starting to be addressed: That of multilabel and independent retail operators offering more choice and variety of brands and designers. There are a few in key cities but not enough to service the 600 million (at most recent estimates) of middle class consumers with disposable income that will exist in four to five years. A good portion of these will be young, connected and aspirational buyers of fashion looking for the best international, and domestic, brands–whether they be street fashion, jeanswear or from a more directional or contemporary angle.

Guilherme Faria (GF): The young market is about people that are in the university or have just started working. They have six adults literally spoiling them: the mother, the father and the grandparents from both sides. They really have no responsibilities and so they have quite a bit of disposable income when compared to any other generation–they are the ones that make 100 and spend 120! This situation starts changing when they get married and have kids. Another interesting point of this generation is that everything is about "me." And the way to do so is definitely through the Internet so people really spend a lot of time on the Internet. Any companies that want to succeed in China cannot live without thinking of the Internet and specifically mobile smart phones.

FW: Most companies have to rejuvenate the brand and develop new ideas to get younger in trends in order to attract the growing young target group. Another aspect concerns the distribution side. Retailers have to look into planning and create exciting marketing methods to attract and engage customers through their stores. This includes more activities at the point of sale and it requires absolutely brand experience. Let me cite for example the Shanghai shopping mall Iapm which opened in August this year. One of their topics is a.m. & p.m. (day and night shopping). This shopping mall is open until 11 p.m. and fills the gap of night shopping for urban youth.

Guilherme Faria of Novomania in Shanghai
Guilherme Faria of Novomania in Shanghai
What are references in terms of countries, looks and brands?

RH: Currently the most influential markets for the average young consumer are Hong Kong, Korea and Japan whereas the older customer looks towards classic heritage from Europe and, to a lesser degree, the US. The reality is that the influences are varied and extreme. You just don't see any tribal looks as you would expect to see across Europe, which directly relate or cross reference a youth culture. In different parts of the country you will see kids dressing alike but I think you will struggle to pinpoint where that look came from. 

GF: And they are very much influenced by online information, communication, celebrities, bloggers that show them what is cool. Then there are the fast fashion brands that have an impact on the younger generations. They are not looking mainly for luxury as they can’t afford it. They want to buy some pieces fashionable and obviously the international chains like H&M and Zara play a huge role on what they wear. On the other side campaigns online have also huge influence on them, because basically the discount prices online is still something that they are looking for.

Read the whole interview in our upcoming issue of Sportswear International #257 that due out January, 10, 2014!

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