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Why is China's Gen Z favoring domestic products?
  ·  2020-11-15  ·   Source: NO.47 NOVEMBER 19, 2020
Visitors are attracted by new products of a soap company at China's Time-honored Brands Expo 2020 in Shanghai on October 10 (XINHUA)
According to China Consumer Brand Development Report 2020, China's Generation Z, or Gen Z, (born between 1995 and 2012), prefers domestic products to imported brands. Take domestic cosmetics brand Xiefuchun for example. Gen Z accounts for 40 percent of its fans, much higher than the proportion of young fans of international brands like Estée Lauder and Lancôme.

In stark contrast to previous generations' affinity to imported brands like Nike and Apple, and particularly Western-branded cosmetics like Lancôme, L'Oréal, etc., Gen Z is much more interested in acquiring domestic products and brands, even when some of these brand names are obscure, the older generations perhaps never having heard of them. Gen Z displays a passion for traditional Chinese culture, and its relevant cultural creative products.

Why are the young people so enthusiastic about new domestic products? Part of the answer lies in the improved quality of Chinese products and brands, which are no less, and sometimes even better, than imported ones. And generally much cheaper than the latter. Some believe it's partially related to the young generation's confidence in China's tradition and culture, or rather, their patriotism, as they grew up at a time when China had already developed to a certain degree of modernization and prosperity.

Confidence in domestic brands

Zhu Wenwen (www.zgnt.net): Gen Z has grown up together with the burgeoning of China's market economy, and thus their spending power seems to be stronger than that of previous generations. Most of those born in the 1970s and 1980s believe that international brands and imported goods are more reliable in terms of quality, and thus consider them superior to domestic ones. They even reject domestic products when they have the choice between domestic and imported goods. But Gen Z focuses more on the cost performance of a product. "Why not buy something cheap and pretty?" is this generation's shopping slogan.

Domestic products are often much cheaper than imported goods. Especially the prices of big international brands sold in China are often hundreds of times their cost. More importantly, the quality of domestic products can absolutely rival that of imported ones, further encouraging Gen Z's confidence in buying domestic.

Gen Z's rising interest in new domestic commodities mostly comes because of the updating of older, established Chinese brands, together with the overall progress of China's industry and society. Today, China's manufacturing sectors increasingly pay attention to innovation and new concepts of expansion. The rising confidence of the Chinese in their own culture is also an important force behind Gen Z's bigger appetite for domestic products.

The combination of various encouraging factors is currently pushing Chinese brands and wares to a higher level on the global supply chain. As China's younger generation's consumption demand is becoming increasingly diversified, the problem now is whether domestic manufacturers can satisfy their varied desires.

Mei Kunlun (m.sohu.com): That China's Gen Z likes new domestic products is undoubtedly good news. A lot of young people these days like to buy, use, and show off domestic products on their WeChat moments.

Chinese brands, once generally labeled as outdated and unfashionable, are returning to mainstream consumer markets, especially favored by the younger generation. It is nowadays a fad to buy domestic products, from mobile phones to lipsticks.

Gen Z's enthusiasm for domestic products reflects their changing understanding of and attitudes towards Chinese goods. They have become more confident in Chinese brands, and in particular, cultural brands. They are also more pragmatic in their consumption than previous generations have been. Their pursuit of new domestic products is likely to enhance the value of Chinese brands and will help make Chinese products more fashionable, or rather, keep in touch with the times. Chinese brands are thus expected to be promoted to a higher level in design, quality, and many more aspects.

More importantly, the Gen Z fervor for new domestic products reveals a surge of patriotism among them. To buy domestic products is not necessarily an act of patriotism, but the fact that they continuously purchase and utilize domestic products objectively props up China's own industries, and this can be understood as a type of patriotism. Especially when imported and domestic products share the same properties, Gen Z will not hesitate to pick up the Chinese option, as in most cases, domestic products are 30 percent cheaper than imported goods. The rush to buy expensive imported goods does not fit the vast majority of Chinese consumers' economic conditions and is an irrational consumption habit that should be weaned off.

The young generation's passion for domestic goods additionally sets a good example for various organizations and companies. Even several years ago, quite a few of them preferred imported goods to domestic ones, even if the latter had both higher quality and lower prices. Although such practices have been largely stopped, some of them still cherish a certain affinity to imported goods. Gen Z love for fresh domestic commodities might make them blush. Whether it is an individual or an organization; all are supposed to be more rational in their consumption. Imported goods are not necessarily better than domestic goods, which is already proven by the young generation's consumption experience.

Strong cultural pride

Ma Wanying (China Youth Daily): In recent years, the purchase and usage of domestic products have become a fad among Gen Z. For example, classic domestic cosmetics brand Baiqueling, after being upgraded, is nowadays increasingly becoming a young brand. Various creative products based on Palace Museum culture are particularly popular with Gen Z. Apart from these well-known brands, plenty of little-known domestic brands are also chased by them, becoming so popular that they are swiftly and completely out of stock. Compared with previous generations, Gen Z relies more on the Internet to learn about the world and various cultures. They are more interested in cool things and new cultural experiences.

An analysis of the successful new domestic products reveals that they are not only designed to appear fashionable and cost-effective, but they make the young feel proud of China's own society. For them, these superb domestic products represent the nation's cultural energy. In turn, their love for and high expectations of domestic products require the manufacturers and businesses to push these commodities to higher levels in all aspects. This is also the reason for these products to stand out among the fierce market competition. Businesses need to know better about these young consumers' real demands and desires, and refrain from taking advantage of the Gen Z patriotism through mere promotional stunts. Only in this way can novel domestic products continue to attract and, more importantly, retain China's patriotic Gen Z consumers.

Yang Jing (www.njdaily.cn): Gen Z is increasingly becoming the major force of consumption in China. Born and grown up at a time of prosperity and national strength, this generation has a strong sense of nativism. They do not see domestic products as inferior to imported goods and feel a much stronger attraction towards domestic products than those born in the 1970s and 1980s.

Partly, the secret of the rise of new domestic products is that these are not simply products, but also the (re)incarnation of the Chinese cultural self-confidence. Rapid economic growth has greatly boosted national and cultural pride. The Chinese public, the younger generations especially, has increasingly woken up to their own culture and tradition, once more realizing their merits and virtues. Businesses are also beginning to pay more attention to the dissemination of traditional Chinese culture and values through their products.

Examples such as 3,000 Palace Museum-branded lipsticks being sold within one hour no longer makes headlines. Stationery of the Palace brand, available online since August of this year, also sells very well. Among the top 10 cosmetics labels on the Chinese market, six are domestic.

Gen Z is no slave to imported products and brands, they stress the value for money more than the products' production location. China's domestic products are no longer dismissed as outdated and even vulgar, but instead represent fashion and brand new attitudes toward life. In most cases, Gen Z believes that they are not simply purchasing a commodity. They have instinctively adopted definite value recognition of this commodity. Their preference for new domestic products predicts the rapid revitalization of China's domestic products.

Copyedited by Elsbeth Van Paridon

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