Failing to acknowledge a culture gap partly explains why some brand messages are not well received and integrated in China. Why do local retail teams seemingly refuse to project the globally-prescribed image and language? Why are there such significant gaps between target and actual consumer profiles? Why are consumers not using products the way they were intended?
These are all less than subtle cues, opportunities to recognize the need to take a step back and re-evaluate. If a brand wants to differentiate (which it absolutely must), it needs to stand for something specific, and understand what that value means for its consumers.
To find a resonant translation, companies need to account for cultural exceptions to the conversation. Youth in China are unique for their unprecedented opportunity and expectation. Born into an open economy under the one child policy, young Chinese have been swaddled with more income and access both vertically and horizontally in China or abroad. They are positioned at a historic crux, expected to share their privileged experiences in their communities and pioneer definitions of modern Chineseness.
In China, consumerism is not the dirty word it is in the West; it is a powerful symbol of modernity. Chinese understand consumption choices to be a standard part of building a reputation; the act of purchasing a well-known premium brand signifies that a consumer has not been left behind.
Unlike in politics, at school or at home, youth’s opinions as consumers hold weight. Here, they are encouraged to develop expertise in flexing their personality and analytical skills. Supported by six family members and their own incomes, youth act as consumer pioneers scouting out new brands and passing on reviews to accrue social capital.