Long working hours – the so-called 996 schedule of working from 9am to 9pm six days a week – are leading to urban Chinese sleeping less and spending more time online later in the evening.

Internet usage in China now peaks post 9pm, and further exploration of this trend led MediaCom to the realisation that sleeping hours have reduced by 26% since 2013. It concluded that time-poor consumers often find themselves pushing their activities later into the evening; dinner, for example, might be delivered to the office or eaten closer to midnight after leaving work.

Further investigation produced the agency’s China After Dark report, based on the findings of 12 insight trend scouts deployed across seven cities (Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing, Xian, Taiyuan, Wuhan and Haikou) over a 37-day period to look at consumer behaviours and actions within the “after dark” economy and the opportunities for brands.

Among the trends they identified were:

The growth of late-night leisure. As well as bars and restaurants catering for those leaving work late, there are many other options to unwind, including night markets, 24-hour bookstores, VR/gaming destinations.

“Consumers continuously seek more varied forms of indulgence and only the most unique and novel experiences stand out to them,” the report said.

Adult escapism. The need to de-stress has led to more adults seeking out leisure options more usually associated with children, such as trampolining or water parks.

A desire for self-improvement. Consumers want to have fun at night but they also want to improve themselves at the same time, whether that’s acquiring new skills or becoming more cultured.

Night tours. Cities are investing in light shows as part of efforts to boost their night-time economy.

Health concerns. Many consumers appreciate that long hours, less sleep and late-night eating aren’t healthy, so more are using evening hours to improve their health and wellness by going to the gym or to square dancing events in public squares.

While there are many choices available to those consumers determined to go out, a significant proportion prefer to relax at home – 45% of all consumers and 51% of Gen Z consumers according to research from Foresight Factory – either for cost reasons or simply because they’re able to socialise virtually via smartphone.

WARC subscribers can read After Dark: Opportunities for brands in China’s night economy here

Sourced from MediaCom