The fast pace of change in Chinese society is reflected in people’s value systems, where family and achievement reign. Inspiration is a stimulating experience that opens their mind to new possibilities, leading to feelings of exhilaration and empowerment. They love stories of success. While their preferences are varied, and somewhat dictated by situation in life, an interesting juxtaposition between tradition and modernity plays itself out in their choices. Digital experiences have a particularly influential role in this market, but so do family, customs and culture. The Chinese wish there were more things that inspire them and have higher expectations from brands to deliver inspiration relative to other markets.

The Swell of Progress

Energetic, striving and eager for new experiences, Chinese people are influenced by their country’s increasing prominence on the world stage and its thriving economy, which is lifting more citizens into the middle classes and contributing to affluence and new opportunities. It’s no wonder that the Chinese rank achievement and power in their top five values since these translate into a better life. China is more likely to cite political personalities as a source of inspiration than any other country.

Chinese people are the most likely globally to respond to Magnetic experiences that broaden their horizons and show them new possibilities; the fast pace of change in Chinese society is leading to a new, more self-oriented mood and an eagerness for self-expression and personal fulfilment, particularly among the post-90s generations. They actively pursue inspiration and report resulting feelings of exhilaration and empowerment more than any other nation. They also describe themselves as “energetic,” perhaps swept up in the swell of progress. Four out of their top five inspiration sources across all categories reflect innovation, such as “scientific discovery” and “innovation-led solutions to problems we face today.”

Successful people inspire me.

Chinese respondent, female, millennial, Loyalist segment

Infocus Top Ten Sources

Seeking Inspiration

Inspiration truly matters to China, with more than nine out of 10 of the nation’s citizens rating it as vital or important to them. They feel “easily inspired,” and remain open to inspiration’s magic even through challenging times - just 11% told us it has been difficult to find moments of inspiration during the pandemic, the least of any market. They also say inspiration strikes regularly. What’s more, the Chinese value stimulation more than twice as highly as any other region, reflecting an openness to be influenced by external stimuli. Indeed, 91% say they wish there were more things in the world that inspire them.

Human Values ALL 09

The stories that inspire Chinese people draw on a broad range of themes, chief among them are narratives of honesty and integrity, and the upholding of moral standards or values, through to stories of achievement, success, and excellence or creativity and ingenuity.

While 93% agree that inspiration is important, Chinese men and women respond differently to stimuli. When it comes to inspiring people, men look up to well-known individuals, including historical figures, successful business leaders or famous athletes, whereas women respond to everyday role models such as parents, mentors and community heroes. This gender gap plays out in the digital space too. Women seek inspiration from their peers through personal stories on social media, connecting with those who share similar passions or following up on recommended products. Men prefer to go in pursuit of inspiration from news outlets, search engines or forums.

My father inspires me. Since childhood, he taught us to be upright, take care of younger brothers and sisters, step into society, do good things, be useful to society, go out to work, be down-to-earth, and be positive people!

Chinese respondent, female, millennial, Nurturer segment

Tradition vs Technology

While the Chinese revere science and innovation, they maintain long-standing traditions that honor culture and family too. Family remains a strong focus overall and they are particularly keen to spend time with their children. Yet, the fast pace of society and the pressure of a competitive work environment make the work-life balance challenging. This tension between engrained traditions and the demands (and allure) of modern life mean Chinese sources of inspiration range from ancient to contemporary with particular emphasis on emerging digital culture amongst the younger cohorts.

It was Buddhism that inspired me and made me understand the truth of the impermanence of life.

Chinese respondent, female, millennial, Indulger segment

The development of animation, comics and games (ACG) culture in China drives a relatively strong preference for gaming and extended reality in our research, the latter being nearly twice as popular in China than any other market. Avatars, too, take an important role, inspiring the Chinese nearly five times more than any other country. Others that rank high in terms of sources of inspiration are social media influencers, with memes and hashtags also striking a chord.

Some talents on Douyin [the Chinese equivalent of TikTok], their perspective and vision of the world are admirable.

Chinese respondent, female, gen X, Creator segment

Meanwhile, more people in China than any other country are inspired by following brand ambassadors on social media and brand web sites. They are also drawn to digital experiences like immersive events, livestreamed events and online commerce, and connecting online with others who share their ideologies. Alongside this passion for digital, China feels the pull of real life experiences too, and in most categories, from museums to the theatre, a majority still expresses a preference for being there in person.

For those brands who want to address the unmet needs of the 89% of Chinese who wish brands/companies did more to inspire them, the opportunities are many, both real and virtual.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese people are the most likely globally to respond to Magnetic experiences that broaden their horizons and show them new possibilities.
  • The Chinese value stimulation more than twice as highly as any other region, reflecting an openness to be influenced by external stimuli. Experiences and narratives that reflect important values like achievement, integrity and creativity will engage and inspire them.
  • A tension between engrained traditions and the demands of modern life mean Chinese sources of inspiration range from time spent with family to digital culture.

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