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Chinese have been labeled ”super consumers“ and are a key target for many international brands. They notably constitute 30% of luxury consumers worldwide with Gen Y and Z leading the spending. But a new wind is blowing amongst this same demographic group where some are moving away from conspicuous consumption and materialism, towards a more conscious, minimalistic approach.  

A fringe of Chinese well educated young urbanites prefer to experience rather than own material possessions. They rely on the sharing economy for everything from cars to pets and they upcycle via startups that offers subscription-based rental clothing. Accounting for nearly 60% of all outbound travellers, GenY Chinese want to see museums and art while traveling, or seek to explore nature. Meanwhile visits to the movies are rising too, with ticket sales going up by 13.5% last year.  This new attitude informs a more conscious, discerning consumerism, focusing on quality over quantity and eschewing showy luxury brands, sometimes tinged with a hint of snobbery of “the initiated”. Clearly, brands need to think about their values, retail offer and packaging to create an offer in line with this rising trend.

  • Experience and inspired lifestyle - it's no longer about brand or logo worship but about what brands make you feel and experience. Gentle monster, A Korean premium eye-wear brand, is one of the fastest trending fashion brands in Asia. Its stores feel like galleries with huge art installations and hyper-designed interiors with eyewear just being the ”by product“ of a store visit.

  • Support consumers to express their individuality - young Chinese consumers want brands to help them express who they are, not to conform to a brand look. Fashion brand JNBY, which combines East and West in its minimalist aesthetics, exhorts consumers on its website to “just naturally be yourself” and to “find the minimalist and unique beauty in everyday life”

  • Focus on materials, quality, simplicity: natural materials are increasingly popular in China, where for consumers living in the overheated density of mega-cities, those materials symbolise a return to nature and wellness for the soul.  Environmentally friendly (degradable/recyclable material) is also a new hot topic in China since the government has passed recycling regulation in major cities.


What counts nowadays is being practical from the users’ point of view:  getting rid of superfluous decoration and labels or logos, and instead stressing function, optimizing and simplifying the user experience. From MUJI to Apple, brands that use this formula seem to appeal to young Chinese consumers.


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