SHANGHAI: Demographics are dead in China – if brands really want to connect with Chinese youth, deep cultural awareness and brand authenticity is essential, according to a senior agency figure.

According to Kevin Lee, Chief Operating Officer of Chinese youth marketing consultancy Youthology, China is the key incubator for a lot of new trends and new consumer behaviours that are spreading throughout the rest of the world – but it’s time to move past generalisations of the country’s lucrative millennial segment and understand the cultural nuances that makes them tick.

Though platforms like WeChat – with an estimated 900 million users in China – are ground-breaking, relying on technology simply won't work if marketers don't make an effort to be more tapped into youth culture and earn the attention of young people.

"We're beyond just being a social China – we are much more now a 'cultural' China. Some brands are really getting it. They understand it's not about the data, it's not even about the algorithms that you create on that data. The reality is that the consumer has created their own algorithms in their life," Lee said at the IIeX Asia-Pacific market research conference in Bangkok.

Businesses must learn to act with a cultural mindset Lee said. (For more, subscribers can read WARC’s exclusive report: How to connect with China’s lucrative youth.)

 "First thing is perception power. Are you sensing? Do you know how to sense the cultural shifts, the meaning shifts, within your consumer's world today? How do you do that? Do you know what you're doing?" Lee said.

"When we're talking about perception power, you need to have a deep network of people that are interpreting for you. You need to have a network of people culturally plugged in, understanding what are the different cultures and the different meanings that are relevant to your consumer today."

Creative license, including co-creation, can also be an effective way to connect.

"You need to understand who is actually creating new meaning in your category and outside of your category. And you need to figure out how to co-create together to then infuse new meaning into your entire product lifecycle and your experience design."

Sourced from WARC