Chinese Millennials

Millennials are those people born after 1980, thus between 18 and 35 years old. In China, there are 385 million millennials, making up 28.4% of the total population. This is a huge market to understand and target.

We differentiate them into two categories depending on the decade in which they were born- ‘balinghou’ or post-80s and ‘jiulinghou’, post-90s.

These two groups have different mentalities. Post-90s tend to be more open-minded, rebellious, individualistic and more willing to challenge authority than the post-80s.



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The new generation traits



The post-90s youth can explore their individuality in a way that post-80s couldn’t thanks to the development of technology allowing them to access information easily.

Traditionally, China is a collective society meaning individuals expect their relatives to look after them and act according to the group they belong to.

The post-90s are less concerned with the perceptions of others but are still very attached to their group, especially their friends.




Free to think for themselves


Millennials enjoy freedoms that past generations were denied.

Previously, decisions regarding work, marriage, travel and children required the parents permission but now millennials are free to make their own choices.


Open to the world

Millennials are increasingly heading overseas to study.  459,800 people studied abroad in 2014, 11.1% more than the previous year according to the Ministry of Education.

There are also more and more Chinese traveling the world to discover diverse cultures. In 2015, 13.3 million Chinese traveled overseas and as the wealthy middle class rapidly grows, this number is set to increase year on year.




Better educated


Chinese youngsters are much better educated than previous generations.

In 2015 there were 7.49 million graduates; an increase of 220,000 on 2014 figures.


More confident at work


Thanks to the economic growth of the country, people are less worried about finding a job.  They are also more likely to enjoy their work.  According to recent research 85% feel their jobs help them to pursue their passion.

There is also an abundance of entrepreneurial spirit, with 74% saying they would start their own business if they lost their job or struggled to find work.


Still attached to traditions


The Chinese culture is still strong and even millennials like to keep many traditions. In fact, 91% think it is important to hold on to family traditions.




Why are millennials so different from past generations?

 China’s economic growth 


The primary reason for the drastic shift in ideologies and behaviors is the rapid economic growth of the country.

This growth has created an increase in wealth and access to information and has led to many new behaviors and ways of life.




Development of technology


With the advancement of technology, Chinese have easy access to the internet and are now more connected than ever. Thus, they can inform themselves quickly and are learning more about western behaviour. 58% of internet users are millennials with most accessing via mobile.  92% of 18-30 year old Chinese own a smartphone.




Two-child policy


As we all know, China had a ‘one-child policy’. In October 2015 this changed and couples are now allowed to have two children.  This may change the way millennials see their future.


How to connect with millennials?


If you want to market to Chinese millennials, you have to communicate through social media channels.  WeChat is the perfect tool for social engagement as it is so widely used by young Chinese people.

As a brand, you need to let the young generation express their individuality and rebelliousness. Vans, Apple, Nike, Adidas have had significant traction with Chinese millennials by doing this.




China’s millennials represent the future for both their country and many of the companies operating there. It is important to know them to be able to implement an effective marketing strategy.


Further readings:

More information about how to do business in China