China's millennials have emerged as one of the most lucrative new demographics in the world: more educated, brand conscious and willing to spend more than any previous generation. It's little wonder that Chinese and international brands alike are looking to capitalize.

But according to Kevin Lee, Chief Operating Officer of marketing consulting company China Youthology, marketers must move past broad brush strokes and understand the nuances of an increasingly sophisticated group. Demographics are dead – if they really want to connect with Chinese youth, it's deep cultural awareness that they need.

"We're definitely past just being rising incomes, and having status consumers, and buying luxury things. We're way past that. That's like 10, 15 years ago," Lee said at the IIeX Asia-Pacific market research conference in Bangkok.

"As the China consumer is so sophisticated, and as China moves so quickly, (brands) are seeing a lot of the new rapid changes happening in China first and then translating to a lot of other markets… They see China as the key incubator for a lot of the new trends and a lot of the new behaviors that they can see spreading throughout the rest of the world," Lee added.

China is becoming more individualized