By Andrea Ng
Millennials in Asia
Millennials across Asia are sometimes described as the ‘Strawberry generation’ 草莓族cǎoméi zú – soft, easily bruised, entitled and spoilt. But what more do we know about them? Millennials are moulded by a very different set of macro factors and changes that are inherently different from those of their parents. Understanding how the sociocultural forces have shaped them, evaluating them on their own merits, and being sensitive to the push and pull forces of change, is key to unlocking the best way to reach this diverse, elusive, and restless group.
In this series, we will explore millennials in two global cities that have often been compared – Hong Kong and Singapore. We will seek to understand how closely their millennials are aligned and if any differences exist due to unique local circumstances, culture, and tradition.
Using Cultural Happiness to Uncover Who Millennials Are
At Join the Dots, we believe that cultural context allows us to unravel the subtlety and nuances within societies, to better understand the unique forces which shape people, and with it, their happiness. With extensive research into the academic world on factors which most influence happiness and well-being, we take our Happiness Drivers framework to explore millennials in Hong Kong and Singapore. Our 7 happiness drivers are:
Positive Emotions: Includes hedonic feelings such as happiness, pleasure and comfort
Engagement: Deep psychological connection to a particular activity, organisation, or cause
Relationships: The need for positive relationships; includes feelings of being cared for, and feelings of integration within groups
Meaning: Having a sense of purpose and direction in life, and feeling connected to something larger than the self
Achievements: The sense of well-being we derive from our accomplishments, which can lead to both external and internal satisfaction
Security: Encompasses everything from living in a peaceful environment, minimised woes, and living without fear
Health: The state of health, both physical and mental, can have an impact on well-being and happiness
Using this framework, we are able to qualitatively build a picture of millennials within local markets and identify opportunities for global brands looking to more effectively target this important demographic.
Through the application of a cultural and psychological framework, we can deliver rich comparative insights on the consumer mind-set in this market, whilst mitigating against cultural bias.
Why Hong Kong and Singapore?
It is fitting to look at Hong Kong and Singapore, as the cities are two of the four Asian miracles, or Asian Tigers, which have often been compared and pitted side by side. These cities have earned their places as Asian Tigers with their power, speed, and ferocity in growth, development, and change unmatched in the region. They have demonstrated their success in competing in world markets, as well as sustaining economic and social growth.
Both cities bear many similarities in economic structure, finance, and trade. Yet stark but nuanced differences exist in ideology, politics, and lifestyle. While Singapore continues to maintain political stability with one leading political party, Hong Kong faces many political challenges and obstacles.
Cultural identification also differs. To understand what it means to be from Hong Kong is to understand the evolution and influence of Cantonese culture and values that have been shaping the local mind-set. In Singapore, multiracialism is one of the founding blocks of the society. Bilingualism is enforced, with English and mother tongue taught since young, while holidays across different racial groups are celebrated throughout the nation.
Despite these fundamental differences, we see a growing force in both cities to embrace the language, and culture that offers the cultural identity that they resonate with – Singaporeans embracing Singlish, and in Hong Kong, the fight to preserve Cantonese.
It is against such a unique backdrop that this series explores the millennial generation of two very similar, but also very different cities, charting their changes in values, outlooks, and lifestyles. We’ll see that despite all the misgivings, they are both competent and hungry, but at the same time, vulnerable. Millennials in the two cities are pragmatic, positive, with a strong spirit, with one foot on the horizon, and another safely in tradition. The underlying value of working hard is unrelenting in this generation, deeply embedded in the way they pursue their goals.
For brands, it is key to understand Hong Kong millennials’ desire for freedom, and Singapore, autonomy. Beyond the self, they seek to be who they really are, and to have their voices heard.
By Andrea Ng, Join The Dots