What China’s ’45 degree life’ trend means for brands

A new trend in China shows that young people prioritize balance and well-being over the grueling work culture of the ‘996’.

Movements in China that clash

The new tang ping or “lying flat” movement (Tang Ping) has emerged among Chinese youth over the past year. It is a refusal to accept the country’s grueling “996” work culture, which means you have to work from 9 am to 9 pm six days a week.

This trend is not a sign of widespread cultural change, although it is viral online. According to its latest study, the State Communication and Governance Research Center at Fudan University has found that this trend may not be true. The research was conducted on 4,000 Weibo users born between 1990 and 2005. More than 70 percent of the participants’ messages showed the opposite: a positive attitude and a desire to learn and develop. Only 10% had ever practiced “lying flat”.

Another neologism emerged, “45-degree living” (45Du Ren sheng). This is a term that refers to the grey area between the culture of exhaustion and the culture of lying flat and is thought to better describe the attitude of the younger generation.

The results of the Fudan University study have set the Chinese web ablaze, with the topic #post2000dontwanttolieflattheyareactuallyhardworking already garnering over 700 million views on Weibo. Many users said they could not afford to lose their salary, but did not want to “neijuan”, or overwork. They are somewhere in between: a “45-degree life”.

Young Chinese people cannot afford to give up their wages, but they also do not want to overwork themselves. They see themselves as having to be somewhere in between and find a balance between work and life.

The opportunities of the ’45 degree life’ movement in China for brands

A healthy and balanced lifestyle could lead to opportunities for brands, such as collaborations with therapy centers or sleep aid companies, or the use of various KOLs instead of traditional fashion influencers.

This group is well known for its advocacy. Many post-2000s junior and trainee employees have taken to the internet to denounce unfair working environments and demand transparency in the workplace.

The luxury sector should be careful about this. Luxury is often a business that sells fantasies. However, its working conditions are not always ideal. High prices and low wages in retail can cause disillusionment among young talent. A public relations disaster could result from poor working conditions and low wages. This is a situation that every company wants to avoid.

Customers’ interests are often at the heart of corporate strategies. Perhaps it is time to pay more attention to those who are behind the company’s success. It is important for companies to foster a healthy and transparent working environment. This is a good thing and a good thing. But it will also help build a positive brand image.

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