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.
- Macroforces And Changes In Global Consumer Culture Part 1: Mass Urbanization (thebrandsherpa.wordpress.com)