US Insights

Digging In On China's Digital Children

Martin Guo

Editor-in-Chief, Kantar China Insights

Brands 03.15.2019 / 15:00


Wavemaker's latest study offers insights about 160 million future Chinese consumers.

Kantar’s sister company Wavemaker recently published “Digital Children in China Whitepaper”, focusing on kids currently aged between six and 15. They will step out into society (graduate from high school) and officially become mainstream consumers in three to 10 years.

They are a unique generation. Almost 80% of the parents in this study were born after 1978, which making them members of the Pan Post 80 generation. Their values and lifestyle are shaped by development of the society and the comprehensively “scientific” parenting values of post 80s parents. Exposed to so many physical and digital experiences before they reach adulthood, this new consumer group will be hard to win. For brands to seize the opportunities and build brand advantages, they need to start paying attention now.

To understand this group, after getting the approval by children’s guardians, Wavemaker hosted qualitative researches in tier-1 and tier-2 cities, which included 12 focus groups, each group with nine children of different genders from tier 1 or 2 cities. At quantitative stage, they interviewed 2,076 six to 15-year-old kids and their mothers at their homes from tier 1 and 2 cities. 

The whitepaper showed that this is a huge 160 million consumer segment.

Annual Born Population

They already have significant buying power as well as strong influence over their parents’ purchasing decisions in many categories. The study has found that 96% kids have their own pocket money. Chinese Lucky Money, or known in Chinese as Yasuiqian (压岁钱), which parents and senior relatives give to children during Chinese New Year holidays, is the major income source for most kids. At all age brackets, its average is higher than 3,200 yuan – highest being the youngest bracket where kids in grade 1 – 3 receiving 3,727 yuan.

Children Income Table

In many cases, parents are willing to respect their children’s decisions. The older the children are, the less likely the parents will just buy what they decided on. Children have especially high purchasing decision power in snacks & drinks, stationary and books (excluding textbooks and reference books).

Children Decision Making Power

Their digital profile enables them to develop independent thinking since they were still little.

Digital Device Penetration

However, they are “invisible users” without a clear identity, because many devices used by children do not belong to them. And only a few have their own accounts on mainstream digital platforms. For example, 84% of surveyed children are using smartphones, but only half of these young smartphone users own a handset. Only 32% of surveyed children has their own e-commerce accounts.

Digital Device And Account Ownership 

They start to form their perception about consumption, such as not to spend too much money, and accumulate “brand smarts” in many categories.

Number Of Brands Known

They are very social, enjoying checking and updating their status on social platforms. WeChat and QQ are mainstream platforms they are using, and usage frequency increases as they get older.

Social Media Usage

They have their own dreams. Boys tend to mention more “specialist” jobs. Except “art” and “teaching” related jobs, girls are mentioning “specialist” jobs, too.

Chinese Children 's Dream Jobs 2

This whitepaper also revealed many findings from interviews with mothers, such as they expect their husbands to take an equal role, leading to more parenting responsibility for fathers. Mothers’ satisfaction of fathers gradually increases along with children’s development. The average score is 7.9 out of 10.

Mum Rating Dad

Mothers look to science to help inform their education decisions, as well as purchasing choices in consumer goods. However, they’re struggling in various dilemmas: they want their children to grow up happily, but also want to meet social expectations by chasing various parenting KPIs (key performance index). They have high expectations for their children to develop at all aspects (a common phenomenon regardless of region or income level), but still, achieving good grades is top priority. Other than internal virtues, parents also put a lot of focus on their children’s appearance. Besides, they also think developing life experiences is important.

All in all, these are reflected in families’ additional educational spending. This survey has found on average, each family spends around 10,000 yuan on out-of-school education programmes, with tier-1 and boy families spending more than average.

Out Of School Spending

Early childhood education is inclined to be developing good habits and engaging hobbies. But starting from grade 5, out-of-school teaching activities overtakes interest classes.

Class Cross 2

Source: Wavemaker

Editor's Notes

* These are the highlights of this 88-slide whitepaper. To get a copy of the full report, please contact Lucy Hong or click here to download.

To speak with the author or for inquiries, contact us. Follow @Kantar and sign up for our insight alerts.

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