Zigging


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Putting geo-politics and media headlines to the side for one moment, China’s ecommerce market remains the fastest growing and most dynamic opportunity in the world and, from what I can see, some of the smarter, courageous and more successful global entrepreneurs and business leaders are seizing this moment to sharpen and advance their China market entry strategy. A time to “zig” while everyone else is “zagging”.

However, as they’re finding, entering the China market as a new foreign consumer brand, and attracting the interest, eyeballs and digital wallets of online consumers, influencers and cashed up Chinese “millennials”, is daunting, confusing and (not least) expensive. Which opens up a new and previously ignored opportunity which is to target the next engine of domestic consumption growth, “Gen Z” (born between 1996 and 2010). I’m still recovering from the shock of realising that one of my own children is too old to be in this group!

As explained by McKinsey’s China’s Gen Z are coming of age: ‘Here’s what marketers need to know’, “China’s Gen Z spent their childhoods during the fastest sustained expansion of a major economy in history, and are consequently used to rapid improvements in their standard of living. They are also China’s first generation of digital natives, and as such are instinctively familiar with technology as a form of communication and entertainment, and as an enabler of commerce”. Some of the trends observed by McKinsey include “Gen Z are optimistic, impulsive, and tend to outspend their budget” which is music to the airs of any global marketer but, most importantly, being a relatively new, young and inexperienced consumer group (and some still living on low budgets as students or interns) they can be accessed at relatively lower cost than their more sophisticated and wealthy seniors (the “Millennials”).

Bearing in mind it can take 3 – 5 years for a new foreign brand to get established in China, the Gen Z market offers substantial upside potential for those who can tailor their value proposition and establish brand loyalty amongst China’s youngest and newest consumers. The big rewards will come later.


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