Gen Z’s love for Guochao bodes well for China’s economy

Wang Junwen thought he could easily buy a fuzzy Winter Olympics mascot from a recent online presale, but all the products were sold out within seconds.

“I thought these mascots wouldn’t be popular for very long, because the Winter Olympics had been over for about a month. Eventually, I had to wait in line for over an hour and bought a toy in a physical store,” said the young man, who boasts of being a fan of Guochao – a consumer trend translated as “China-chic” that has recently swept the country’s younger generations.

Experts believe that the younger generations’ confidence in Chinese culture and their national identity is reflected in the popularity of Winter Olympics mascots, as well as the boom in sales of cultural products related to the Forbidden City, a palace imperial of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911).

Enthusiasm for Guochao

Zhang Zhe, born in 1999, bought many cosmetics from Chinese brands or with Chinese patterns.

“I like these designs with Chinese elements,” Zhang said. “In addition, they are as good as foreign brands in terms of quality. Now there are more and more Chinese makeup brands in my cosmetics collection.”

According to a report released last year by Chinese internet giant Baidu, consumer attention received by Guochao has increased by 528% over the past decade.

Bloomage Biotechnology Corporation Limited, a major hyaluronic acid producer in eastern China’s Shandong province, is benefiting from the Guochao trend. Her products, including Forbidden City-themed lipsticks and self-developed skin care products, have won over many young female consumers in China.

Rise of national brands

In addition to cultural and creative products, a growing number of domestic enterprises have seized the business opportunity provided by Guochao to win larger market share and more customers.

The Chinese sportswear market has long been dominated by foreign brands such as Adidas and Nike, but this situation has now changed. Innovative designs with traditional Chinese cultural elements and high-quality products – domestic brands like Anta and Li-Ning – have gradually won the favor of young consumers and occupied a larger market share.

Figures released by Anta Sports show its revenue in 2021 reached 49.3 billion yuan (about $7.7 billion), a year-on-year increase of 38.9 percent.

According to Euromonitor, a global market research company, Anta Sports held a 16.2% market share in China’s sports footwear and apparel sector in 2021, overtaking Adidas at 14.8% and closing in on the leader. of the Nike market at 25.2%.

Younger and stronger drinking capacity

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that the size of China’s Generation Z (people born between 1995 and 2009) reached about 260 million in 2020, and its spending was about 4 trillion yuan, or 13% of spending. household totals in China. . The group is expected to become the main driving force shaping the future of the Chinese economy.

“The driving force of consumption is gradually shifting from the middle class to Generation Z,” said Lai Yang, an expert with the China General Chamber of Commerce.

Wang Gao, a professor at China Europe International Business School, said Chinese Gen Zers pay more attention to their personalized needs and have strong purchasing ability. “Chinese companies really respect the unique requirements of Generation Z and meet their needs, so that they can win the hearts of Generation Z,” Wang said.

“Guochao has become a new driving force for economic growth and will facilitate the upgrading of industry,” said Hu Yu, from Tsinghua University’s Institute for Cultural Creativity.

James C. Tibbs