China’s Youth Groups

Breaking down the market into four segments.

The new edition of the Phoenix Report also highlighted some emerging consumer groups in China and their spending patterns, which could be essential knowledge for brands looking to reach customers in the country. “China has a wide variety of shoppers, and it’s really important for companies to know exactly to whom they are marketing, what their income levels are, how they feel about money and what drives their purchasing decisions,” said Allison Luong of Pearl Research. “Understanding the consumer segmentation is really the first step, and then you can really do a deep dive into what it is that motivates them to buy and what other brands interest them.”

This story first appeared in the August 7, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Here are four key customer groups that are leading the spending spree in China:


“This is the majority of Chinese consumers,” said Luong. “They’re both working-class and middle-class and generally very thrifty — they won’t often spend too much on high-end products because they don’t have the money. But they’re very up-to-date on fashions and gadgets and really would like to spend a larger portion of their income on luxury products. Their hobbies tend to be much more lower end — they like to play sports and mahjong. They don’t really have the money to go traveling, clubbing or skiing, even though these are things they aspire to.”
Favorite brands: Haier, Lenovo, Nike.


“This name stands for ‘Chinese yuppies’ and they’re really the group at the forefront of China’s burgeoning middle class,” Luong said. “They’re concentrated in the big cities, but are also starting to populate the smaller cities around China. They’re professionals, and they’re putting much of their savings into things like purchasing homes. They tend to be into higher-end hobbies, such as golf and traveling, and they tend to have a high interest in Western products.”
Favorite brands:
Apple, Nokia, Chanel.

Big Stylers

“These are the country’s big earners and big spenders,” Luong said. “They usually work in an office environment — they’re bankers, doctors and lawyers. They spend money on traveling, clubbing, drinking, eating out and luxury products. They’re really all about showing off and consumption. While traditional Chinese society has been about saving, this group is about big spending and living in the moment. They tend to be very brand-conscious and have disposable incomes of at least $500 a month, which in China is very large.”
Favorite brands: Armani, Prada, Burberry.

Parasite Singles

“This is a term that was first coined in Japan for young, single females, but it also really applies to China, as well,” Luong said. “Many of them live with and are supported by their parents, hence their name. The free rent and low everyday living expenses allow them to spend their disposable income on consumer products, like clothes, cosmetics and accessories. They tend to be fashion-forward and keep up with the latest trends in magazines or on the Internet. You see a lot of women in urban centers in China that fit this profile.”
Favorite brands:
Louis Vuitton, Lancôme, Motorola, Gucci.