Demographic marketing has become irrelevant in China; Research

Demographic marketing is dead. Long live psychographics!

This has been a constant theme of my thinking for the past 5 years and it is now confirmed to be true even in the exploding market of China.

Ageing China
The most lucrative psychographic segments (Mainstreamers, Aspirers and Explorers) are well distributed across age categories.

Today Chinese people are far less siloed by age, cohort or region according to research conducted by advertising company Y&R and reported here in Campaign magazine.

The research* shows that demographic generational and tier-based differences among Chinese consumers are “evaporating”, and “a reliance on these outdated ideas has become an impediment to brand growth“.


Demographic marketing myths

Among the insights revealed in this study are two wonderful ‘myth busters’;

Myth 1. Anyone over 50 years old in China is not worth marketing to as they are too conservative and aren’t into new brands or new experiences.

In fact, the single largest group of ‘early adopters’ in China are over 50. They not only have the mindsets to try new brands and experiences, they are in many cases cashed up with stocks and property.

Myth 2. People in the 18 to 25 age group are the most lucrative because they are energetic and outward-looking people who enjoy seeking new frontiers and experimenting with life, and also typically the first to try new brands.

The tougher employment market and higher living costs have created a more conservative younger generation in China. Many youngsters seek more security and basic protection.

A Y&R spokesman concluded with music to my ears; “The differences between people lie more in their intrinsic personality traits rather than what year or where they were born,” he said. “The obsession that everything must be targeted young is a myth that we want to break.”

What should brands do?

The question is, how do you create product and services that not only appeal across age and generational divides, but which remain useable to consumers of all ages? The answer lies in the concept of Lifetime Customer Experience. Apple are masters at this game. Check out our Apple Watch case study here.

If you’d like to know how to create a Lifetime Customer Experience, please contact me.


*The Y&R study involved interviews with 4,000 urban Chinese adults across eight major cities and covered 50 questions about attitudes and values.