We are on week 2 of our MediaVest Yangtze Study lower tier truths sharing. If you missed last week’s please click here to get caught up with the first two truths “It’s a matter of perspective”.
This week, we will be talking about the matters of the heart – namely what lower tier youth look for in a potential partner, and also digging behind the truth to the phrase “home is where the heart is” and what this really means for our lower tier consumers.
LOVE IS CONTENTMENT, NOT PERFECTION
When we conduct interviews with top tier youth in Beijing and Shanghai and observe their desires, we can tell that they seek perfection when considering a potential partner. Many young women said they would not marry someone who does not own a flat and a car… and of course, he must also have a stable job and be good-looking.
The rise in this mentality and in cases of people marrying for the money (and later divorcing) is countered by a recent law set by the Chinese government, which states that upon divorce, the party who purchases the flat shall keep it. Due to the pressure young men in China face to own a flat in order to be a candidate for marriage, their well-meaning family may chip in and contribute financially in order to help their child make the big purchase. In this scenario, if the marriage turns sour, the groom’s family may lose their life savings.
While this scenario in top tier cities may be disheartening, it is quite different in lower tier cities and in their expectations of future spouses. We saw quite the opposite and found in lower tier youth, much more humble desires.
To lower tier youth, the ideal mate does not need to be the ‘best’ in terms of wealth, looks. They told us that they actually, they do not trust things that are ‘too good’. Young women said that they would rather have a man who is “not that good looking and not that rich, but who will treat me and my family well.” One woman said the most beautiful words from her husband were not “I love you” but “whatever happened and whenever it comes, I am with you here”
Says Lisa Richert, Strategy Director, North Asia
“This plays out into how we develop our Content. If we want to relate to them, we cannot always talk/show the ideal. It is not believable. We need to make sure we support our claims with clear reasons why, simple substance. Flash is pretty to look at, but not to buy. Beauty and personal care information should be simple to understand and simple for them to see incorporating into their life.”
Going back to the findings we discussed in last week’s post, there is once again an element of practicality, over fantasy.
The second truth today is about the home.
We assume that lower tier consumers don’t want to be in a lower tier city, but that they are aspirational and want to be in a top tier city. We figure that those who are living in lower tier cities are there, not because they want to be, but because they don’t have any other choice.
However, this is far from the truth. In fact, many lower tier consumers have made an active choice to stay in their cities and towns. They may have moved there from other places, or have moved to a bigger city, and for various reasons, decided to go back.
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
In this reverse migration situation, lower tier youth and other migrant workers have pursued their top tier dreams (after hearing stories about the “bright lights and big city”), but have found life too hectic. Thus, they choose to move back to their lower tier home towns to start their own businesses, inspired by what they see in the top tiers. Business not native to lower tiers, such as spas, health clubs, fancy hair salons, etc., have started in lower tiers in this way.
Also, “big city” does not always mean what we think it does (the top tier one cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou). One city bigger than where they are in is still considered big to them. And more often than not, once they have finished school, they move home in order to help take care of their families.
One young man, Mr. Wu, said that he would love to move to Qingyuan, the tier 3 city nearby, however he is needed by his parents in his tier 5 town, so out of filial duty toward them, he will stay in his dusty tier 5 town.
The numbers say it as well. Ironically, everyone seems happy where they are, with tier 1 citizen favoring the idea of moving to large cities and lower tier people being more content with where they are at.
These perspectives also translate to how they see travel. While many mention ‘travel’ as a dream of theirs, desired places to visit are predominantly within China – anything else appears outside of their scope, or comfort zone – i.e. to go outside China seems unfathomable and simply beyond reach and comprehension, as many have never even been outside of their home town and surrounding cities.
Beijing is their “life journey”; the place where they need to go in order to understand their culture, as it is the centre of the Chinese culture and people. Many said they feel they can never really know China until they experience the history and might of Beijing.
Says Jeffrey Tan, National Research & Insights Director:
“Community is at the heart of this in so many ways. How can we facilitate their connections with loved ones who are far away? How can we honor the pride they feel in where they are from – whether that is localized packaging, recipes, offers, flavors or bringing the wonders of other places in China to them, to their gathering places. Giving them experiences they treasure courtesy of our brands and in our brands, through affordability (pack size) and availability (distribution of new products).”
In many ways, we see that for lower tier people, home really is where the heart is – whether it’s where they feel the most comfortable, or whether they are there because their loved ones are there. How can we, as brands, help them to celebrate where they live and play up the familiarity and pride they feel in the city/town they call “home”? How also, can we introduce them to other parts of China, like Beijing, and the world – perhaps doing this all in the comforts of their hometowns? Can we bring the world to them?
Tune in next week for week three of our series, where we will discuss the next two lower tier truths.