Asian economies and cultures are rapidly changing, as are its consumers. In Mintel’s new thought piece, The Generation Game: Catering to Asia’s Future Life Stages, we identify the eight life stages consumers are currently navigating, as well as provide recommendations on how companies can cater to evolving consumer needs.

Here, we discuss two stages: Future-proofing education and Teenage kicks.

Future-proofing education

According to Mintel research, more than four in five students in China say they are working hard to achieve the future they desire. Further, close to nine in 10 feel that it is worth investing time and money in their own education and image improvement.

Thanks to the rapidly changing application of new technologies, the new growth industries – coupled with the jobs that go with them – were barely imagined a few years ago. Continued technological advances will mean education has to prepare Asia’s children for a future job market where adaptable skills, rather than a specific profession, are the most important aim. Increasingly, the skills students need to have in such technology-driven future economies will include more critical thinking, problem solving, and technological innovation and application.

The changing education environment across Asia, and its need to adapt to suit the requirements of an ever-changing workplace, while combining new technologies, is therefore creating new disruptive opportunities for brands.

This change in education not only affects Asia’s school children, but also youngsters looking for training later in life, as well as older consumers looking to keep up with the evolving demands of the workplace. Indeed, results from a study by Mintel in India reveals that three in 10 Indians aged between 18 and 24 say they try to study or learn new skills in their spare time to get ahead in their careers.

Instead of being directly involved in a country’s formal education, there is potential for brands to be more closely involved through offering field training, as experienced-based learning increasingly makes its way into the curriculum and out of the classroom, for instance.

Future-proofing education will need to focus more on adaptation and innovation, as well as mixing the vocational and the academic. It must also be based on real-life experience as much as classroom learning, and finally, be much more integrated with global trends, all with the aim of meeting the demands of a globally competitive workforce.

Teenage Kicks

In today’s digitally-disrupted world, the influences Asian teenagers are exposed to are manifold and ever-changing. As a result, they have evolved into very complex and potentially confused consumers, and it is with this notion that wisdom and understanding need to be offered to teenagers without being patronising.

To better understand teenagers’ priorities as consumers, brands should start first by understanding their leisure priorities. Research from Mintel indicates the Digital Age has created a significant proportion of teens hooked on online life, as more than one in three teenagers in China prefer to spend their leisure time by playing online.

That said, many still prefer active pursuits; indeed, Mintel research reveals over one in five prefer to get involved in sports activities, and practice hobbies, in their leisure time. Passive entertainment is also part of the leisure mix – and the marketing potential among teenagers – with one in five Chinese teenagers also saying that they prefer to watch entertainment programmes during their leisure time.

Whether it is fashion or food, movies or music, games or grades, teens are a key market for the new, next big things. But again, they don’t just need to be sold to and left alone; their increasingly complex and fast-moving worlds need brands to offer continuing engagement and advice.

The Digital Age requires brands to offer more than just products, services and a lifestyle badge. Brands need to actively take on roles as partners in teenagers’ lives as they seek a deeper meaning from their consuming patterns and lifestyle choices. Brands must supply support and a deeper engagement with teenagers in navigating through what are often the most emotionally difficult years of their lives, and preparing them for the world of further education and work.

Against the backdrop of competition and rapidly changing consumer tastes, only by building trust and long-term relationships, can brands stand a chance of building any kind of loyalty among teenage consumers in the longer term.

Download your free copy of Mintel’s ‘The Generation Game: Catering to Asia’s Future Life Stages’ thought piece here.

Matthew is Mintel’s Director of Research for Asia-Pacific. He looks at the development of China’s consumer lifestyles and the impact on Chinese people and society. Having previously co-founded research company Access Asia, Matthew has worked exhaustively on trying to make sense of the myriad of contradictions in China’s economics and statistics on consumer markets across China.

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