• MAP Asia Pacific Ltd

Understanding China’s Young Consumers

“Do Millennials in China also love avocado toast?”

A global executive asked me this, in earnest, a month ago.

I get questions like this because I’m the founder of a market-insights company called Young China Group. Whenever I give talks, whether it’s London or Cairo or Rio, people always ask the same question: “How do the younger generations in China stack up against our own?”

The question comes up so often that I’ve developed an open-ended framework to answer it — one that can help make sense of the swiftly shifting tectonic plates of global consumption. It has come in handy in particular for us at Young China Group as we help global brands and investors understand young consumers in China and the West, but it is open-ended enough to be applied more broadly.

The framework involves four “orbits of inquiry” — general organizing principles, that is, that leave space for drift between points. Let’s consider them one by one.

1. Generational Power

How much market impact does a youth cohort have in its country?

Different countries have different generational pecking orders. Not all global youth cohorts have as much economic clout in their own national consumer ecosystem as their peers in other countries. In most Western economies, wealth is still focused in the Boomer + age brackets, as this graph makes alarmingly clear.