Glitzy and glamorous, China’s ‘Gen Z’ is spending big on luxury items

China 24

China’s Generation Z – those born between the mid 1990s and mid 2000s – is a driving force behind the consumer spending fueling China’s economy.

CGTN’s Lin Nan shows us how today’s teens and 20-somethings are a glitzy, glamorous group.

As the saying goes, diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Such is the case for 24-year-old Qian Xialing. She’s looking for her first diamond after two years of working in a Shanghai public relations firm.

“A good-quality and beautifully-designed item is more like an affirmation, some encouragement as well as a reward for myself,” she explained. “It will also improve my quality of life and boost my confidence.”

According to surveys, China’s Generation Z is more willing to buy luxury goods than older generations, and Gen Z is becoming a key source of luxury brand growth throughout the country.

Social media plays its part too.

Personal image is very important for young people in China. Many seem to believe that they are what they buy. Through purchasing brands, they can deepen their understanding of certain fields, build up personal images, and find ways to socialize with peers.

Some even call themselves the “moonlight clan,” happy to empty their wallets every month.

“If I save 10,000 yuan a month and I like a handbag very much, I’ll spend all of it to buy it,” Cheng Xunjia said. “You never know what will come first, tomorrow, or your death. It is wiser to spend money before death comes.”

But many, including some parents of Gen Z, caution against such loose spending and borrowing habits. Experts say spending trends can change over time, but they add that Generation Z’s ways don’t speak for the whole country.

“I don’t think it represents the mainstream value,” James MacDonald, senior director at Savills Property Services, said. “I think it gives an indication about where that value could go. Obviously, it’s better if you borrow money to invest, versus borrow money to consume. But it certainly has a positive short-term impact in terms of the economy.”

Benefiting from China’s one-child policy, Gen Z didn’t have to share while growing up and has only known a post-90’s China that has gotten wealthier. With more disposable income, they are more optimistic about their futures and more confident about spending.

“They are also influencing the types of brands which serve that generation Z, which will continue grow in the coming years,” MacDonald said. “So it is an indication about where consumption is going to go.”

From saving for a rainy day to enjoying life in the moment, Generation Z’s buying habits represent a vast change from where Chinese people have come.

Yu-Min Claire Chen on spending power of China’s ‘Gen Z’

China’s ‘Z-lennials’ grew up with social media. This digital era has helped shape their attitudes and lifestyles. Yu-Min Claire Chen is an Assistant Professor of Chinese at St. Mary’s College in the U.S. state of Maryland. She spoke with CGTN’s Elaine Reyes about how this change in culture is reflected in consumer habits.