China's Millennials: What's a Western Business to do?
China’s Millennials: What’s a Western Company to do?

When doing business in China, Western companies often struggle with the cultural differences between their home country and China. China’s millennials are in many ways the keys to reducing that cultural disconnect. I say this because China’s millennials are better traveled and more likely to speak a second language than any other generation in China. On top of this, China’s millennials are often the ones hired by foreign companies and the ones buying Western products.

It obviously behooves Western companies to increase their understanding of China’s millennials and many (most?) are trying. I was thinking about this today as I reach about the halfway point in the book, China’s Millennials: The Want Generation, by Eric Fish. Though intended far more as a de Tocqueville-like report on China’s youth, this well-written book actually makes for an excellent starting point for any company seeking to market to or employ China’s millennials. Through first-hand reporting on the stories of China’s young from all over the country, Fish provides a fascinating road-map on how China’s millennials think.

If you are looking to better understand China’s youth, I highly recommend you read this book. For more on how businesses should market and relate to China’s millennials, check out the following:

  • Casey Xiao-Morris

    A good subject worthy of understanding. The generation of millennials is so different than the Chinese known as hardworking, willing to sacrifice, showing the results prior to asking for things. Majority in the generation are a single child in the family, spoiled, less motivated … Looking forward to reading the book.

  • stevelaudig

    “are better traveled and more likely to speak a second language than any other generation in China. ”
    What does unrecognized, including by myself, is that most Chinese are bilingual. It is only the political point of claiming that different languages, are [for political reasons] called different “dialects”. Most Chinese students [18-25] that I have met think they are not “bi-lingual” when they are. Cheers.

    • Gbi

      c’mon stevelaudig, they are obviously talking about a second FOREIGN language

    • xiefeilaga

      Even by your definition, most Chinese are mono-lingual. Some 70% of the population of China speaks one of the Mandarin dialects as their first language.

      • stevelaudig

        Most Chinese students, in my experience, are at least bilingual, though many aren’t of course. The term ‘dialect’ as used in China by the government [and even some Chinese linguists] doesn’t have the same meaning as ‘dialect’ when used by non-Chinese linguists. “Dialect” [if I understand what you mean when you use the term] only speakers and Mandarin only speakers are unable communicate any better than say a Portuguese speaker with a Romanian speaker. Both, I understand, are Latin based but not mutually intelligible even if they share certain forms. Changshahua for example cannot be understood by Mandarin only speakers [even though when ‘written’ the same characters are used. They aren’t two “dialects” [the government uses ‘dialect’ for the political purpose of encouraging ‘harmony’ and ‘unity’]. They are different languages. So “no” not even by my definition [linguistic] they are not monolingual. Mandarin doesn’t have ‘dialects’. It’s a very interesting area of study though which is a bit of a hobby. cheers

  • John Niggl

    It’s interesting to see how the one-child policy has shaped this generation of Chinese. There is a predominant stereotype among single children here as being “xiao huang di”, or “little emperors”, due to the spoiled treatment they get from parents and elders. I’ve seen some of this first-hand, but I’m not ready to make any kind of generalization.

    One trait that I found interesting that seems to set Chinese millennials apart from their Western counterparts seems to be buying habits. I read an interesting article in the Huffington Post recently that discussed factory conditions and social compliance. The article mentioned, “Factories in developing countries that send clothes to export markets need to at least look like they’re complying with social standards. For domestic markets, they don’t.” While the younger generation of consumers in the U.S. seems to be concerned with free-trade coffee beans, dolphin-safe tuna and ethical labor practices, China’s younger market doesn’t seem to place so much value on these when making buying decisions.

    I’m interested in checking out Fish’s book to find out more.