Value-conscious youths are driving the growth of e-commerce in China

Value-conscious youths are driving the growth of e-commerce in China

Staff Writer
Staff Writer
Pinduoduo Content Team
July 1, 2020
  • Chinese youth aged 18–35 are main driving force behind online consumption, Beijing Normal University study finds
  • Pinduoduo users under 35 increased their average monthly use of the app from 84 times to 89 times in the past year, study reports

Mark Yang, 29, recently lost his job as a marketer for an online used car dealership in Beijing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While he looks for employment, he is using Pinduoduo (PDD) often so he can save more when he buys products on the e-commerce platform, known for its team purchases and value-for-money merchandise.

“I have to tighten my belt these days,” Yang said in an interview. “My best way to save money is to always check Pinduoduo before I buy things.”

Yang, who started using PDD two years ago, is among the growing number of young Chinese consumers who like shopping online and are careful about their money. According to the latest research by Beijing Normal University, young people aged between 18 and 35 have become the main driving force behind online consumption.

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These “mobile internet natives,” as the report calls them, are adept at hunting down the best deals across multiple e-commerce platforms, are more willing to share what they find with their friends, and join team purchases to obtain lower prices.

This group of value-conscious spenders has also embraced PDD, which had the distinction of being the only e-commerce platform in the first quarter where the growth in number of users aged under 35 outpaced the overall increase in users, according to the report.

These youths also increased their average monthly use of the PDD app from 84 times to 89 times, in the past year, according to the report, which cited data from QuestMobile, a research company.

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One characteristic of this demographic is that even though many had modest incomes, they were willing to spend money on branded products and would try to find the most cost-efficient way to buy them.

Take Yang for example. He bought an iPhone and AirPods on PDD because the prices were lower than on other platforms. He regularly buys face wash from Japanese brands such as Freeplus, and also shares links of his shopping items with friends.

“Some people might be skeptical about things sold on Pinduoduo, but I have never bought a fake product on it,” he said.

Another major difference between this new youth group and other consumers is that they are more willing to purchase fresh agricultural produce online, according to the report.

Screenshot of Yang's purchase history

Yang’s most recent purchases on Pinduoduo include tangerines, which he said are “definitely sweeter and juicier” than those sold in supermarkets. Even his parents have started to buy fruits on the app after his recommendation, he said.

Watch: A primer on China’s online shopping festivals

Yang said he habitually compares prices across shopping platforms and joined WeChat groups where he and other shoppers exchange information about where to find good deals. He said he often sees people leaving comments like “let’s wait for a lower price to appear on Pinduoduo” after a shopping link is shared among the groups. Oftentimes, he finds Pinduoduo offering the same products for a lower price.

“That’s how many others and I have come to rely more on Pinduoduo than anything else,” he said. “It doesn’t let me down.”