China Underground > China Finance > 2020 Report on Chinese Millennial Spending Habits

2020 Report on Chinese Millennial Spending Habits

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Phoenix Tree Holdings Limited (Danke), one of the largest co-living platforms in China with the fastest growth, recently released a comprehensive survey on the spending behaviors and attitudes of Chinese millennials.

The survey revealed that about 66.5% of Chinese millennials and Gen Z consumers have a balanced approach to budgeting and personal spending.

The survey was conducted on Danke’s platform starting at the end of September. The survey aimed to better understand the lifestyle and consumption habits of Danke’s main tenant demographic, China’s millennials and Gen Z. Over 3,700 responses were collected for the survey.

According to the survey, about 63.2% of respondents mentioned that they have additional income streams besides their full-time salary. Respondents with higher salaries were more likely to report having multiple income streams. While 75% of respondents with monthly incomes of RMB15,000 or higher had multiple income streams, 76.1% of those with incomes under RMB3,000, relied solely on one job.

Do you have additional income streams besides your full-time job?
Yes63.2%
No36.8%

All respondents listed rent as their largest monthly cost. Men reported spending the second-largest portion of their budget on food and beverage consumption, while women tended to spend the second-largest portion on daily necessities.

When asked about their attitudes on spending, 66.5% of respondents stated that they had a balanced approach to budgeting, spending where needed but trying to save money where possible. 22.4% of respondents stated that their budgeting philosophy is saving money above all else. The remaining 11.1% of respondents reported making spending decisions based on their mood and impulses. These responses indicate that most young respondents are rational and discerning consumers.

Respondents with higher incomes tended to make more rational spending choices. Amongst respondents with monthly incomes of RMB15,000 or higher, 78.8% claimed to follow a balanced budgeting approach. 

Your approach to spending and consumptionPercentage of respondents
I make spending decisions based on my mood and
impulses in the moment
11.1%
I prioritize saving money above all else22.4%
I have a balanced approach to budgeting, spending
money where needed, saving where I can
66.5%
Monthly income
(in RMB)
Spending attitude breakdown by monthly income
Make spending decisions
based on mood and impulses
Prioritize saving
money above all
else
Prioritize budgeting,
spending where
needed
Under 3,00017.0%26.1%56.8%
3,000 to 5,00016.9%19.8%63.3%
5,000 to 8,00014.4%18.5%67.1%
8,000 to 10,00012.9%15.2%71.9%
10,000 to 15,00013.5%15.2%71.3%
Above 15,0009.6%11.5%78.8%

The survey also inquired about spending habits. When asked about the most important factor when considering buying an item, 49.7% of respondents said practicality and function, followed by brand reputation (23.1%), price (16.2%) and packaging design (10.9%)

What is the most important factor when you
consider buying an item?
Percentage of respondents
Practicality and function49.7%
Brand reputation23.1%
Price16.2%
Packaging design10.9%
Others0.1%

When asked about how they prioritize spending discretionary income, 34.5% of respondents said they prioritize investing in themselves by taking classes on fitness, tea ceremony preparation, flower arranging, and foreign languages. 31.7% said they would use discretionary income to improve their current living conditions, while 27.4% said they would put leftover money into their saving account. This response indicates that the younger generations care about self-improvement and educational experiences. 

After subtracting for daily expenses, how do you
prioritize spending your discretionary income? 
Percentage of respondents
Invest in myself by taking classes to learn new skills34.5%
Improve my current living conditions31.7%
Place the money in my saving account27.4%
I don’t have much left after daily expenses6.5%

“Buy now, pay later” is a common spending trend amongst younger generations in China. With credit cards and online consumer credit services now readily available, consumers can now buy products first and pay for them later. Such services enable consumers to pay in installments if the cost is too high to pay off initially. According to the survey, 91.8% of respondents have used credit cards or online consumer credit services such as Alipay Huabei and JD Baitiao. When asked what products they tended to use these services on, male respondents mentioned daily expenditures, consumer electronics such as mobile phones and laptops, and trendy sneakers. Female respondents tended to spend on daily expenditures, apparel and handbags, and consumer electronics such as mobile phones and laptops.

Have you used credit cards or online consumer credit
services such as Alipay Huabei and JD Baitiao?
Percentage of respondents
Always use them45.5%
Sometimes use them46.3%
Never use them8.3%

This survey indicates that millennials in China tend to have different attitudes towards spending than previous generations. They are more willing to spend on improving their day-to-day lives and invest in personal development, indicating healthy and balanced consuming habits. The survey also shows that the younger generations are increasingly taking on part-time work or using consumer credit services to supplement their monthly salary and cash-flow needs. Millennials and Gen Z also prioritize self-improvement and experiences as well as buying goods.

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