What's Happening in China's Market Today? Part 1

Global Watch: 1 of 7

The Post-80s, the Driving Power of China’s Mammoth Consumer Market

In China, people born in the '80s of the 20th century are called "the Post-80s(八零后; bainghouw)". Members composing this generation play the lead in establishing trends and have attracted players in various markets toward their buying behaviors.

Post-80s’ lifestyle

“When we compare the lifestyle of this generation to the Post-70s (qīlinghòu) characterized by diligence and the Post-90s (jiulinghòu) known for egocentricity, the Post-80s (bālínghòu) is halfway between them. Not only do they pursue living the good life, they also try to have fun in their lives. They attach importance to quality of life, pursue fashion, are eager for empathy, and very much want to be trend leaders. They are responsive to trends and consumption behavior that are reasonable and smart. For the people belonging to the same generation and other age groups, they represent an origin from which booms emerge and spread out. When targeting the Post-80s, simple, convenient, sophisticated, stylish and digital are the keywords for product development,” said Liu Xuan (劉璇; Liú Xuán) an analyst at Sinomonitor*1, a research firm monitoring new generation markets in China. Although the Post-80s is the generation which has been taking social and domestic responsibilities for only a few years, they are geniuses at “finding time slots in their busy lives to take action”. Put differently, they wrestle with limited time, strike a balance between work and private lives, and are full of ambition to be successful in both.

Post-80s finding time slots in their busy lives to take action

Post-80s finding time slots in their busy lives to take action

New services targeting the Post-80s in e-commerce market

Today, without a doubt, Post-80s members are the majority of users of online shopping, a promising to-be growth area. According to a survey conducted by China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), 25–30-year and 31–35-year age groups accounted for 52.5% of the total buying public (See Fig.1). Moreover, the increase in number of mobile internet users due to penetration of smartphone is expected to expand the size of online shopping (See Fig. 2). Against this backdrop, it is foreseen that online payment system providers including the industry leader Alipay (支付宝; Zhīfùbǎo )*2 will further improve their service quality. At the same time, human-centered development of smart electronic services based on analysis of consumption habits and consumer lifestyles will create more opportunities in the e-commerce market.

Fig. 1:2011-2012 Age Structure of Online Shopping Users


Fig. 1:2011-2012 Age Structure of Online Shopping Users Source: CNNIC 2012 Survey on Online Shopping Users in China

Fig. 2:Number of Mobile Phone Internet Users

Fig. 2:Number of Mobile Phone Internet Users Source: CNNIC Statistical Survey on Internet Development in China

Social shopping caters to the Post-80s

Taking aim at the Post-80s’ lifestyle and consumption activity, China’s e-commerce market leader Alibaba has acquired 18% stock of Weibo (新浪微博; Xīnlàng Wēibó). This is a part of its effort to take the fashion market before others by targeting the Post-80s. China’s most influential e-commerce platform Taobao (淘宝; Táobǎo) and Weibo, one of the most popular mobile social media platforms in China, now work together. This partnership gave birth to Weitao (微淘; Wēitáo), creating a business model that integrates “mobile, social networking, and e-commerce”.

Weitao is composed of six service units—shopping information, interactive tool, cultural information, day-to-day services, consumption experience and word-of-mouth—and has evolved into a “social shopping platform”. The effort to combine e-commerce with the social network can be regarded as a service, which has successfully grasped the Post-80s’ needs for convenient, yet safe shopping on a reliable social network at slots of time that they have.


“Weitao”,a new business model integrating mobile, social networking, and e-commerce

Digitized service experience caters to the Post-80s.

In the area of day-to-day services, we are now witnessing a fusion of digital and service that has been stimulated by the Post-80s’ demand for experiential consumption. The fusion has become a business mainstream propelled by domestic and foreign firms that have been operating their businesses successfully in China in recent years. IKEA*3 uses augmented reality (AR) technology in its catalogue distributed to the Chinese market at the beginning of 2013. If you spot a symbol mark that means "AR available", start up the IKEA application in your mobile device. You are now ready to watch attractive videos or digital manuals that are hidden behind the mark. The technology allows potential consumers to look at a stereoscopic view of furniture, so that they can see the inside of a piece of furniture more closely and get a feel for its actual effects. All you have to do is to get the IKEA catalogue and mobile application.

This new catalogue spread with amazing speed, and as many as 250 million copies were printed. The success of the IKEA catalogue drew much attention from the home furnishing industry. It is said that the catalogue represents an innovative approach to studying substantial consumption needs of the key buying public to improve the company’s service through the form of digital media; that is more than a mere attempt in line with the trend of digitization.

Usage example of AR technology

Usage example of AR technology

Housing environment sought by the Post-80s

As mentioned above, most Post-80s have their hands full with tasks they have to do in the workplace. So, they do not want to spend time dealing with something confusing and boring. As people’s lives pick up speed, they are becoming more inclined to have simple and cozy home living, thus, they love wireless Internet environment and streamlined ways of living. For the next several years, one major trend will be developing smart home appliances that come with utilitarian functions and offering them at reasonable prices. To add to the above, remote or smart control of water servers, rice cookers, floor heating systems, air conditioners, and air purification systems will be realized. This is another potential consumption trend where we will be able to witness secure, untroubled operation of home appliances as well as healthy, comfortable smart homes.

2009 – 2015 Market Size of Products Related to Smart Home (100 M, yuan)

2009 – 2015 Market Size of Products Related to Smart Home (100 M, yuan)

The rising Post-80s

The size of China’s Post-80s market is 280 million. As social roles they play and the magnitude of the position they have in markets have become more important, their hearty appetite for consumption and robust purchasing power will certainly attract more domestic and foreign companies. Using networks to link existing products or services with each other, or establishing cross-cutting collaboration that involves sectors and industries in order to meet demand from the Post-80s is imperative for new business development to succeed in the Chinese market and will remain a crucial viewpoint that bears noting.

*1. Founded in 1998, Sinomonitor (新生代市场监测机构) is one of the leading marketing research companies in China. With its over 200 engineers and researchers in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, Sinomonitor operates research on markets, media, and consumption and societies. It also serves as a marketing consultant. The interviewee Mr. Liu Xuan (劉璇; Liú Xuán) is a senior media analyst at Sinomonitor.

*2. Alipay (支付宝; Zhīfùbǎo) is a leading third-party online payment platform. It offers “convenient, safe, and quick” online payment solutions for China’s e-commerce businesses. Alipay has gained recognition from financial institutions as the most reliable partner, largely because of its reliable practice of business, advanced technologies, sharp market prediction, and high level of social responsibility.

Alipay, a leading online payment platform in China


*3: IKEA is a Swedish major furniture retailer. As of August 2010, the company operates in 38 countries; 280 stores in 26 countries are directly owned and operated by IKEA. Since its first store in China opened in 1998, IKEA has been accepted by China’s market and is now regarded as the top runner among the country’s furniture retailers.

Moves That Are Driving What Comes Next

China annual GDP, which supassed that of Japan in 2010, pushed the country up to the world's second largest economy; next to the U.S., china ranks that position for the year in a row, showing the dramatic development of its economy which made consumer trends and lifestyles drastically shift to "quality over quantity".

Beijing sets out to maintain the currents stable economic growth, and at the same time views that the social challenges in consumption trends represent a renewed starting point.

In the aim of grasping the true picture of moves in China's market and the business opportunities that are expected to burgeon out from the moves, we have narrowed down our focus to three themes in this series of reports: "traits of the Post-80s consumption" that drive China's mammoth consumer market, "China's silver market" where aging picks up speed, and the "environment-related product market" that boosts its potential against a backdrop of environmental concerns.