How Gen-Z Anxiety Is Shaping The China Market
China’s Gen Z (those born after 1995) are products of the country’s one-child policy and have grown up with their parents’ resources concentrated on them. Simultaneously, China has seen rapid economic growth, giving most Gen Zers in their late teens and early 20s unprecedented quality of life and stability.
But unfortunately, Gen Z’s comfortable lifestyle comes with pressures to maintain the pace of growth introduced by their older counterparts. In this atmosphere, overtime and long working hours, which start in the education system, have been the norm. Never-ending competition is reflected in the term neijuan, which has become popular online as people complain about the constant stress leading to few positive benefits. Adding to their burden are changing demographics — a slowing birth rate, aging population, and diminishing working force — and expectations from relatives surrounding marriage and family.
The juxtaposition between growth pressures and wanting to maintain the comfortable quality of life that they have become accustomed to has led to growing mental health problems for Gen Zers, who are quickly becoming the ‘anxious generation.’ Yet, affluence has meant that an increasing number of Gen Zers are no longer willing to sit back and endure a high-pressure lifestyle, as highlighted in the ‘lying flat’ trend (tangping). More broadly, consumer trends and online behaviors now reflect how young Chinese have found ways to cope with their stress.
China’s youth turn to light-hearted entertainment to relieve stress
When they log off of work, young people are looking to escape from the pressures of their daily lives. Many turn to entertainment, as is evident in the rise of gaming and short-video platforms like Douyin. These platforms provide fun, digestible content in an easy-to-use, full-screen format. With Chinese users spending an average of 110 minutes per day on short-video platforms, brands have a huge opportunity to use this medium to develop strong relationships with consumers.
Meanwhile, these young people are looking to engage with like-minded creative communities. NetEase Cloud Music has become a destination where young people can vent their stress and connect virtually with other users. The platform has even latched onto its nickname ‘NetEase Depression Cloud’ via campaigns that encourage users to ask for help.
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