Marketing to Chinese hipsters?

marketing to chinese hipsters

Written by TSI CEO Andrew Kuiler

“Hipsters” in Chinese has a special meaning. The closest approximation, 文艺青年, literally translates to “young people into literature and art.” Chinese hipsters identify with products and brands to which they feel personally connected. To market to this group, beverage brands must understand what moves them and respond accordingly.

So who Are Chinese Hipsters?

chinese hipsters by Matthew Niederhauser

Hipster photo by Matthew Niederhauser

This subculture has more access to non-Chinese information and entertainment, which has shaped a culture that blends traditional China with elements of the West and other Asian countries.

Most of these hipsters tend to come from single-child families with doting parents and grandparents. They have disposable income and travel experiences that provide perspective on western brands and marketing. Consequently, they flock to social media, which reduces their reliance on commercialized sources in favor of more authentic experiences and brand stories.

AB inBev has leveraged its understanding of this group into a 4 percent increase in market share. After purchasing Goose Island and Shanghai’s Boxing Cat Brewery, the brand turned a Beijing unveiling into a social media event, providing free beer and selfie opportunities to grow its presence in the region.

To capture this market in China, brands must adhere to three simple rules.

1. Speak their language

Young, hip Chinese consumers look for traits other than the functional benefits of beverages, such as taste. They crave an emotional connection to brands, and companies can provide that through unique experiences.

Harbin Beer gained a following within this group by promoting “happy relationships and happy times.” Using celebrities and social media influencers, other brands can grab the attention of Chinese hipsters spread their stories organically.

2. Promote Authentic Purpose

This demographic prizes authentic connections to local culture and old truths. Brands can tap into that affinity by infusing their marketing efforts with socio-cultural insights.

Nongfushanquan have done a great job to accomplish this through an excellent water packaging campaign incorporating traditional Chinese art to add a vintage touch.

Hipsters also want to belong to exclusive groups, however, which means brands cannot sell out to local culture entirely. Striking a balance between authentic connection and established identity is key.

3. Build a Selfie-Worthy Physical Presence

Experiences beyond packaging appeal as hipsters seek unique stories. Pop-up concepts like artisanal cafes, funky-flavored beverage stands, and craft breweries stand out from the crowd.

Brands should promote these experiences on social media to generate interest. Hey Tea, a popular local tea shop brand, created a frenzy for the social experience it provides beyond the beverages themselves.

By emphasizing authenticity and providing unique experiences, beverage brands can capture their share of the Chinese hipster market.

This original article by The Silk Initiative is published on Beverage Daily here: