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The Spoilt Generation as a Consumer Superpower

The average Chinese consumer has a monthly disposable income of a meagre 640 yuan. Paying 399 yuan for a pair of jeans may seem extravagant to the average Chinese but not to Jimmy Xue. Not if the jeans have a cool Jack and Jones label on them, and not if the 22-year-old student knows they are the real thing. They are about four times the price of local jeans but he feels the brand is worth it.

There are 30 million Chinese like Jimmy Xue - young, urban and affluent - and they have the purchasing power to force the world's biggest companies to change their marketing strategies. A unique combination of historical circumstances have turned them into a generation like no other. They are the product of China's one-child policy, which was introduced in 1979 and has coincided with a period of unseen wealth creation.

"The one-child policy almost forced people to spoil their children," says David McCaughan, a Tokyo-based consumer researcher for advertising firm McCann-Erickson. There is a generation who thinks that being spoilt is natural. As a result, they have expensive taste, and have already established themselves as a consumer power.

In a country that once celebrated the rough, proletarian look, they spend a monthly 82 yuan on cosmetics alone, according to public relations company Hill and Knowlton. They want nothing to do with pirated products. "They really hate fakes," said Hung Huang, publisher of Seventeen, a magazine for teenagers. "When their parents buy them fakes, they are really annoyed because they think they are being ripped off," she said. What they want is real brands and in great ever-changing variety, say market analysts.

Since they have grown up witnessing a society transform itself faster than any other before, they consider it natural to constantly change tastes and preferences. "The old dynamics of brand loyalty goes out the window," says is it McNaghter. "In other countries, it's a risk to change brands, but in China it's a risk if you don't change brands."

This particular urge for change could potentially have political consequences at some point in the future, say some observers. Many of the high-spending youth are China's elite, groomed at the country's best high schools and colleges. "They are a very confident generation and this will affect the way they feel about how much power they have in making social and economic decisions in China," says Hung, the publisher.

China may soon have its own breed of angry young men and women insisting on leaving their mark on society. 'Rage' is considered cool by many Chinese teenagers, who find their role models among the likes of chronically moody rap king Eminem, according to Hung.

Those attending elite schools often speak idiomatic English with an American accent - thanks to native language teachers - and may come across as more cosmopolitan than their parents.

But for all their openness to the outside world, they could eventually turn out to become even more nationalistic than the Chinese before them. This is what distinguishes the ancient capital of Beijing from Shanghai, China's most cosmopolitan city, according to Carl C. Rohde, a Dutch researcher of market trends. "Beijing is definitely also part of the world, but they have a keener sense of preserving their Chinese roots. That's part of their pride," he says.


What does this statement from the passage tell you about Jimmy Xue ? 'They are about four times the price of local jeans but he feels the brand is worth it.'.


He is brand conscious.

    (B) He likes to spend money.
    (C) He is a show-off.
    (D) He is spoilt.

The writer says that Jimmy Xue's generation can establish itself as a consumer power for the following reasons except

    (A) They are 30 million strong.
    (B) They have the money.
    (C) They are spoilt.

They hate fakes.


According to the writer, why does Jimmy Xue's generation hate fakes ?

    (A) They have the money to buy the genuine thing.
    (B) They are young.

They feel cheated when they get fakes.

    (D) They clearly know what they want.

These are the effects of a one-child policy except

    (A) people give their children whatever they want
    (B) children grow up with expensive tastes

parents change their taste and preferences

    (D) the new generation becomes wealthier

The writer says that, " ... in China it's a risk if you don't change brands."

    (A) The youth are not faithful partners.

The youth have no brand loyalty.

    (C) The youth have a lot of spending power.
    (D) The youth are becoming wealthier.
  6. These are the characteristics of the Chinese who consider themselves cosmopolitan. which is not one of these characteristics ?
    (A) Going to elite schools
    (B) Learning English under native English teachers
    (C) Living in Shanghai

Living in Beijing

  7. In paragraph 7, the writer says, "China may soon have its own breed of angry young men and women insisting on leaving their mark on society." How will they probably do this ?

They will demand for political reforms.

    (B) They will cause economic change.
    (C) They will resort to violence.

They will be financial successes.

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  Answers : 1) A    2) D    3) C    4) C    5) B     6) D    7) A

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Comprehension 1


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