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Which Chinese brands are winning among young consumers?

Doreen Wang

Global Head of BrandZ

Brands 26.04.2017 / 04:55

Young couple heart 2 col

10 Chinese brands significantly lift loyalty among young consumers. The right celebrity makes a difference.

Millennials worldwide strongly influence brands and brand growth. The millennials in China include two age groups: “post 80s” (people born in 1980s) and “post 90s” (people born in 1990s). Their influence in China is especially acute because these young people, born since the period of economic liberalization that began over 35 years ago, grew up in a much more affluent and brand-conscious China than their parents.

Our Kantar TNS research shows that young Chinese consumers value individuality, desire immediate gratification, seek novel experiences, enjoy online self-expression, and fear failure. Using BrandZ™ data we ranked Chinese brands based on increased loyalty among them between 2014 and 2016.

EN Brands Increase Loyalty Among Young Consumers

We found that the brands that increased most in loyalty among young consumers include a mixture of brands that rank in BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands 2017 and smaller brands. We also found that brands can increase loyalty among young consumers across diverse categories, including: mobile handsets, insurance, internet portal, healthcare, food and dairy, beer, personal care, and retail.

The mobile phone handset brand OPPO led the ranking with a 157% increase in loyalty between 2014 and 2016, followed by two insurance companies: New China Life Insurance and CITIC Prudential.

Increasing loyalty among young consumers requires understanding what attributes they seek in brands. Consumers of all ages want products or services that offer quality, are trustworthy, and help make their lives better. Younger people are more likely to favour brands that are famous or trendy, while older consumers may look for brands that confer status or advance social responsibility.

EN Brand Attribute Preference Of Young Consumers 

The right celebrity can help communicate these attributes. Young consumers are more receptive to celebrities who are close to them in age. And compared with older Chinese consumers, who favour celebrities from Taiwan and Hong Kong, younger Chinese consumers are more likely to respond to celebrities from Mainland China, Japan, or Korea because their favourite entertainment originates in these places.

Age of Celebrities Preferred by Young Chinese Consumers

EN Celebrities Age Preferred By Young Consumers

Country Profile of Celebrities Preferred by Young Consumers

EN Celebrities Origin Preferred By Young Consumers

Harbin Beer is among the brands that increased loyalty among young consumers with a comprehensive marketing programme. The brand’s celebrity endorsers included Taiwanese rock star Chen-Yue Chang, and Sitar Tan, a popular Chinese singer in her mid-thirties. In its sponsorship of the World Cup, Harbin employed a diverse group of celebrities to relate meaningfully on social media with various segments of the young audience. The brand also sponsors a beer festival. The perception of Harbin Beer as fun and playful rose significantly between 2015 and 2016.

OPPO sponsored TV programs that appeal to young audiences and populated its ads with young people. The brand also used subtle product placement in which characters in TV dramas used OPPO mobile phones in ways that reinforced brand strengths, such as speedy charging. New China Life Insurance collaborated with travel sites that are popular with young travellers. Insurance brands also collaborated with relevant charity websites to reach young consumers, a demographic group not traditionally associated with insurance.

Brand Implications

Young consumers are influential consumers in China, as they are in most countries. Their relevance in China is especially critical, however. They tend to be more open to purchasing a range of brands than their parents or grandparents, but they also influence the spending of the older generations. Reaching this demographic group is important for brands across product categories. Mobile phone and beer brands might be expected to appear on a young loyalty ranking, but two insurance brands made the list, indicating an opportunity for diverse brands to establish their relevance to younger age groups.

Attitude is important. Brands must be genuine. Young consumers can discern when brands deeply understand their needs, concerns, and preferences, and when they are just pretending. Young people like to see their lives portrayed in media. As they transition to adult life and struggle to identify and reach their aspirations, real-life examples reassure young people and help them navigate their journeys.

Empathetic brands will be appreciated, especially when they communicate on the right medium. Live-steaming is popular. It creates Internet celebrities and helps young people feel interconnected as a generation.

Finally, do not forget the younger siblings of these age groups. These teenagers have spending power, interest in brands, and are the next generation of consumers.

Source: Kantar Millward Brown

Editor's notes

* This article was part of the 2017 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands report. To download the report, please click here.

* To reach the author, or to know more information, data and analysis of branding consultancy, please contact us.

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