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The Youth In Asia: Cultural Tension And Millennials in China

As a part of the work I do, I am often asked to provide a point of view on “kids these days”. Sometimes it relates to American culture but most of the time it’s a global question.
One of the ways I look at culture in the context of informing brand strategy, marketing and product innovation is using a framework for distilling insights about “deep culture” and “surface culture”: what’s the stuff that goes deep or has a longstanding history and what is more contemporary or topical.

I recently shared some insights i have learned along the way about Chinese youth / “millennials” with regard to deep culture and surface culture. And since the information isn’t “proprietary” (owned by someone who paid for it) and I gave it away for free today, I thought I would share with “y’all”.

So here’s some stuff you might or might not know about those crazy kids in china from a deep culture / surface culture perspective:

WHAT’S THE HISTORY?

  • Rich cultural and spiritual traditions rooted in Buddhism
  • Imperial rule / non democratic government
  • Communism as a longstanding economic reality
  • One-child rule in effect for decades
  • longstanding tradition of adult children caring for elderly parents at home

HOW HAS CULTURE EVOLVED?

  • Switch to capitalist economy in late twentieth century
  • Aging population  outpacing  general population due to one child rule
  • Many “only children” coming of age, actively seeking meaningful connections with others / peers and feeling the burden of caring for aging relatives
  • Evolution of communication technology has opened up new ways of communicating with peers and the world

WHAT ARE THE NO-FLY ZONES

  • It’s still not okay to question authority / government
  • Expressing individuality / uniqueness is not a goal of self-expression: they would rather be approachable and make friends

POP CULTURE TRENDS

  • Social media like Kuku (sort of like Facebook) is a popular resource for socializing and self-expression
  • Couples outfits are popular for young lovers
  • Karaoke is a popular bonding activity for all ages, but especially for males
  • Celebrities as spokespeople for popular brands is still a very effective marketing tool
  • shopping malls are curated experiences with different floors of retailers catering to different age groups and life-stages (e.g. high school, college age, young professionals)

Fun tidbits?  I hope so.  Learn something new:  betcha did.  Almost like you’ve been there, huh?  😉  Well, fortunately I have:  and have done the fieldwork / got the T-Shirt.  But it’s starting to get holes, so hopefully I can find my way back to the Jack Jones store in Shanghai sometime soon.  In the meantime, I will wear my perspective instead.

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Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Generation Y, Marketing, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “The Youth In Asia: Cultural Tension And Millennials in China

  1. Pingback: Youth Culture Series Part 1: The Evolving Mindset of Global Youth | The Brand Sherpa's Blog

  2. Pingback: Evolving Youth Culture and What it Means For The Global Brand Marketplace « The Narcissistic Anthropologist

  3. Pingback: Relationships between elderly parents and aging children

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