China’s Generation Y consists of people born in the 80’s and the early 90’s who now represent a formidable, 250-million strong demographic group.

This group possesses a uniquely evolving attitude towards life, work, culture, and global issues.  Characterized by positive outlook, connectedness, and consumerism, the Chinese Generation Y resemble their western counterparts in terms of access to and increased usage of the Internet, digital music players, and mobile phones.

China’s Generation Y also tend to exhibit more than past generations the will to voice out their individual and collective aspirations as well as practice the spirit of entrepreneurship, two characteristics that previous generations of Chinese notably lack.

The attitudinal and cultural deviation from traditional traits among the Generation Y population resulted from the impact of several factors. Among these are the attainment of higher education, high growth, stability on both local and national scale, changes within the country, technological advances, and China’s remarkable economic growth following its assimilation and reformulation of free market ideas.

Sociologists also count the one-child policy promulgated by the government as a possible contributor in the development of the unique traits now manifested in urban Chinese youth.  This set of characteristics is clearly absent in previous generations–the parents and grandparents of Chinese Gen Y’ers–creating a sharp contrast that analysts now refer to as a generational gap between the increasingly sophisticated youth and the other extant generations of Chinese.

A major hallmark of China’s Generation Y–one that generates considerable excitement among global business players–is their pronounced acceptance of Western tastes and styles and the subsequent consumption of Western brands. With Generation Y set to lead the world’s future top superpower, many organizations are focused on China’s Generation Y. 

This is because of the tremendous potential opportunities open to organizations that will fully engage this powerful demographic group, with a population at approximately 250 million-strong.

From established global brands such as Nike, BMW and Apple, to American and European startups in the energy, finance, entertainment and health sectors, smart business players have already secured their positions in the domestic market–or are in the process of doing so. By some estimates, around 80% of the richest people in China are younger than 45 years old.

China has also overtaken the US as the biggest automotive market in the world and, surprisingly, has become the biggest market for luxury goods after Japan, even as the country retains notoriety for being a haven for imitation goods.

China’s Generation Y is already flocking to Starbucks, watching Hollywood films, and riding German-engineered automobiles. 

Mergers and acquisitions, partnerships, knowledge sharing, franchising, and establishment of supply chain infrastructures are just some of the measures that have already been taken by organizations whose long term strategies rightfully assigns a prominent role to the Chinese market. 

Engagement strategies of companies aiming to succeed in the Chinese market are increasingly reflecting the consumer profiles of Generation Y. This generation is not a stereotypical portrait of the Chinese consumer, with some variations even among the group. However, their collective purchasing power and increasing openness to the global economy help establish the grounds where both brands and entrepreneurial ideas can possibly be nurtured to grow.