Press Release

Pearl Research Publishes “The Phoenix Generation” A Report on Chinese Youth Spending, Culture and Behavior

Please contact us at 415-738-7660 or email research (at) pearlresearch.com for a sample of the report. Download the table of contents here.


San Francisco, CA, October 9, 2007 – Consulting firm Pearl Research today released “The Phoenix Generation: Insights into China’s Youth,” a comprehensive lifestyle study focused on Chinese youths ages 16 to 30. The study identifies emerging trends, attitudinal shifts and what’s hot in games, Internet, entertainment, technology, fashion, and consumer products. Most importantly, the study provides actionable insights for companies to effectively target this demographic.

Allison Luong, managing director of Pearl Research, “Pearl Research has coined the term the Phoenix Generation to describe this cohort of 16 to 30 year olds in China. The term the Phoenix Generation aptly describes the emergence of this consumer class in China, eager to embrace new products and life experiences. However, to effectively reach this group, international marketers need to acknowledge their diversity. There are different micro-markets of Chinese youth, each with their own brand preferences and spending habits.”

China has 320 million young people between the ages of 16 and 30. Rising incomes, growing urbanization and an economy that has grown 10% annual from 1979 to 2006, have resulted in a consumer boom in China. Pearl Research estimates this demographic have $135 billion in spending power, making this cohort highly prized for international marketers.

Some of the key findings include:

- Chinese youths are avid tech adopters citing online chatting and online gaming as top leisure activities

More than 90% of Pearl Research’s interview panel had played either an online or packaged game before. The youth interviewed in the study were heavy Internet users and said that online games and various chatting services such as Tencent’s QQ, Microsoft’s MSN and Ebay’s Skype provided a venue for them to meet, flirt and make friends. “Many young people play Audition, an online casual game, to meet friends, especially those of the opposite sexes,” observed a 20 year old male from Beijing.

The most popular games cited by Pearl Research’s panel were World of Warcraft from Blizzard, Audition from 9you, Kart Rider from Nexon and Fantasy Westward Journey from Netease. The most popular Western title was Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, with gamers citing its deep world, robust graphics and ability to curtail cheating as top reasons for playing.

Young people are the largest group of Internet users with people ages 25 or younger representing 50% of the 162 million Internet users in China. Pearl Research believes that this young demographic is most likely to seek out entertainment online, driving demand for online games, music and chat.

- Chinese females prefer casual games
Compared to male gamers who preferred playing core games, female gamers cited causal games such as Nexon’s Kart Rider, 9you’s Audition and Tencent’s casual games on QQ as their favorites. Female gamers particularly enjoyed purchasing virtual items and clothes for their avatars as a way to express themselves. “I use the QQ messaging service everyday. So I don’t mind spending money buying virtual items so I can have a nice looking avatar,” said an 18-year old girl from Shaanxi province.

- Chinese youths are receptive to international influences and brands
Urban Chinese youth are generally receptive to international influences enjoying foreign movies, brands and other products from Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and the West. International brands such as Nike, Louis Vuitton, Sony and Nokia were among the favorite brands mentioned by Chinese youth in the survey. Korean movies such as My Sassy Girl and Korean musicians such as Rain were also popular with Chinese youth.

- Musical tastes evolving to include rock and hip hop
Rock music was always popular in China’s larger cities but now hip-hop and R&B are growing in popularity, as Western influences spread in China. Western musicians such as Coldplay, Britney Spears, Linkin Park, and Eminem were cited as favorites by Chinese youth in our panel.

- Activities such as car racing, yoga and skiing are becoming increasingly popular
Chinese youths are enjoying increasing access to new activities such as car racing, yoga, traveling and skiing, which were not available to the previous generations due to their lower income levels. Chinese youth are eager to embrace new experiences as part of a lifestyle shift that emphasizes attaining personal happiness and self-development.

In a special section, Pearl Research profiles a subculture of drag racers that save up their salaries, modify their cars and set up races throughout Beijing. This group of racers is being courted by international advertisers including car, packaged goods and PC manufacturers, eager to connect with a group of influencers.

.- Urban slang develops in China
Pearl Research has compiled urban slang popularized used by Chinese youth including terms such as “to go fishing” which is to pick up girls, “to go backdoor” which is to get something through connections, and “ticket holder” which means someone who is wealthy.


The Phoenix Generation study is based on 360 points of contact including 90 in-depth one-on-one interviews across both first- and second-tier cities in China and more than 270 online survey respondents.

The ongoing Phoenix Generation studies helps companies understand this important demographic and what drives their lifestyle choices and spending habits. Through both quantitative and qualitative data including trend analysis, in-depth youth profiles, and spending diaries, readers can gain insight into contemporary Chinese youth.

To acquire a copy of the report or to request a briefing, please contact us at 415-738-7660 or email research (at) pearlresearch.com.

About Pearl Research
Pearl Research, a business intelligence and consulting firm, specializes in the Internet and digital entertainment markets with a special focus on emerging markets and platforms. Based in San Francisco and China, Pearl Research publishes in-depth research reports and provides customized research and consulting services. For more information, please visit http://ww.pearlresearch.com or http://www.redlinechina.com

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