Cui Jian, a famous Chinese singer-songwriter, often labeled the father of Chinese rock, has created numerous popular songs with catchy and inspiring lyrics, one of which reads, “It’s not that I don’t understand, but that the world is changing too fast.”
It’s particularly true when it comes to the quicksilver business models in China. Emerging models are moving along, leap-frogging with the new ones rapidly and ruthlessly replacing the old ones.
One of the decisive factors bearing on the success or failure, or even life or death, of a business, is an ability to capture the changes in the demands and preferences of the coming generations, the main force of consumption nowadays.
Therefore, whoever can read the minds of young people born in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s will be ahead of the game and the winner eventually.
Some big winners are raking in money simply because they have satisfied the young group’s fresh habits and hobbies to their hearts’ content.
Tencent, one of the world’s largest Internet companies, posted a record quarterly profit of 18.2 billion yuan (US$2.7 billion) in the second quarter of 2017, a 70 percent year-on-year increase, thanks to its explosive growth from mobile gaming, particularly smash hit “Honor of Kings,” which claimed over 200 million registered users.
Game providers did nothing wrong in meeting the needs of a generation that was born into and grew up in affluence and over-protection. Parental pampering has left many young people deprived of a sense of responsibility and the ability to live independently.
I have such an example at hand. The son of one of my wife’s sisters, born in 1988, is a father with a 1-year-old son. He has been absorbed in online gaming since his high school years and still plays online games every single day, often into mid-night or even early into the following morning.
His passion for games has never dwindled with age. His doting father, a prominent orthopedist, has spoiled him by arranging everything for him: his study, work, marriage and the care of his son.
Doubtlessly, he is not alone. What then are his female contemporaries are doing? More or less the same. The difference is that what lure girls are TV drama series, either tear-jerking romances or heart-breaking tragedies. Game-loving girls are numerous too. That relative of mine may be an extreme example, but his peers at least bear one similarity with him: staying at home as long as they can except when working outside, and most of them hate doing housework.
This laziness produces huge business opportunities. Their reluctance to shop, cook and wash dishes has led to the booming of food-delivery service. Meituan, the world’s largest online and on-demand delivery platform, has reached up to 18 million daily orders and deliveries, and will hit the 25 million mark by the end of this year.
The fact that they are too lazy to move their fingers more than “necessary” has brought about another change that is redrawing the map of China’s mobile payment territory. WeChat payment is rapidly gnawing away Alipay’s share, especially in the payment for food delivery. It is its 1-billion-plus active users of WeChat that have contributed to WeChat payment’s carving out a big share of a market previously dominated by Alipay. Most of the users are just too lazy to leave WeChat’s bewitching contents to another domain to pay for something.
Laziness is contagious. Younger generations are getting increasingly intolerant of long TV dramas, which have resulted in the flourishing of short videos. As a result, Kuaishou, a social platform offering video-streaming services of a minimum of 17 seconds long, and Douyin, a similar App, are all the rage among young people. As a latecomer, Douyin is stealing the show from Kuaishou since it has become China’s top short-video app in 500 days, with more than 1 billion videos viewed every day. Its ace in the hole is its powerful editing capabilities, which enable users to add music and effects to their videos in order to make them more interesting and creative. It knows well how to please those who seek fun without headaches.
Society and businesses should do something to encourage youth to be more diligent and active while satisfying their needs.
(The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)