Social engagement has changed the Post-’95 generation in China beyond recognition. China veteran Tom Doctoroff dives into the ways brands can reach this complicated “slash generation” for Mumbrella Asia. How a new generation walks away from traditional conventions.
Several forces have expanded the Post-95 generation’s world view in China. The country now boasts a generation that embraces multidimensional identities and paths for the future.
The youth refuse to be confined to a narrow set of interests. They refer to themselves as the “slash generation.” According to a survey conducted by Ctrip, the online travel portal, 85% of Post-90s believe a “modern person should have a multitude of interests.” Their role models are people who have achieved just that: Ji Lingchen is a Taobao brand creator/reality TV star/hip hop song writer.
The explosion of possible passions combined with the ease of forging online communities has transformed social engagement. Small “tribes” of individuals who share similar niche interests — street culture, bodybuilding, hardcore gaming, gay choristers, cosplayers — have blossomed.
Acceptance of non-conformist pursuits has shaped the Post-95s’ view of the future. So, too, has the burgeoning of careers that did not exist a few years ago — for example, UX designers, data scientists, short film directors and cloud service analysts. For now at least, the new generation eschews “conventional” definitions of success and dulled-out corporate hierarchies.
But then looks are deceiving.
In China, everything is a means to an end, and requires a payoff, now or in the future. Experiences aren’t simply enjoyed.
Passions need to be converted into social currency that lubricates forward advancement. Broad societal endorsement from parents, teachers and classmates is becoming less important than acknowledgement from “the people that matter”: members of the same sub-tribes.
For instance, Xu, an independent traveller, says: “My friends and I learn from each other’s experiences so we can plan for an even better trip next time.”
Multidimensional passions and a broad worldview are spoken of as “tools” in “the toolbox of life,” skills or “weaponry” that can be deployed to overcome unexpected hurdles.
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