Apr 1, 2024|

JD Chief Economist: Tech-Driven Supply Chain Revolutionizes Gen-Z Consumer Engagement in China


At the inaugural FORTUNE Innovation Forum in Hong Kong on March 28th, Dr. Jianguang Shen, chief economist of JD.com, highlighted the transformative impact of tech-driven supply chain solutions in meeting the dynamic needs of Gen-Z consumers in China.

“Gen-Z consumers are very discerning and pragmatic,” said Dr. Shen. “They don’t care if the brand is local or global.” Dr. Shen began by discussing the increasing sophistication of younger Chinese consumers. “The rising popularity of local products can be attributed to China’s supply-side reform, which has enabled brands to provide lower-cost products with higher quality,” he said. Shen also emphasized the strategic advantage that brands can achieve by leveraging advanced digital supply chains, which offer deep insights into consumer behavior, thereby tapping into substantial market opportunities.

Joining Dr. Shen were industry leaders including Angela Wei Dong, Global Vice President China at Nike; Pontus Erntell, President and Chief Sustainability Officer at IKEA China; and Doreen Wang, CEO of Kantar China and Global Head of BrandZ. Together, they shed light on the shifting preferences of China’s youth towards quality, sustainability, and enhanced social engagement in their retail experiences, especially amid economic headwinds, prompting brands to adapt swiftly.

Drawing examples from JD.com’s platform, Dr. Shen discussed the rising popularity of eco-friendly mini refrigerators among Gen-Z consumers. These products, aligning with Gen Z’s penchant for tech-savvy and environmentally conscious offerings, underscore the necessity for brands to evolve and align with consumer preferences.

Furthermore, Dr. Shen discussed the positive impact of a new government policy encouraging trade-in of consumer goods, which is expected to boost consumption. Leveraging JD.com’s robust supply chain capabilities, customers not only can easily trade in old appliances for more modern and eco-friendly goods but also benefit from a suite of JD’s attentive services such as doorstep pickup, installation, and recycling.

The conversation also touched upon the strategic collaborations under the Consumer-to-Manufacturer (C2M) model between JD.com and numerous brands, aiming to streamline the journey from product ideation to distribution. This collaboration has welcomed over 4,000 brands to JD.com’s C2M platform, drastically reducing product research and market introduction times by 80% and 70%, respectively, thereby fostering a mutually beneficial ecosystem for brands, retailers, and consumers.

Dr. Shen concluded by emphasizing JD.com’s commitment to technological innovation, with its deployment of AI-driven chatbot customer service, highly automated warehouses, autonomous delivery vehicles, and integrated retail solutions that bridge both online and offline domains.  These innovations are designed to meet the dynamic preferences of consumers, enhancing the overall shopping experience and setting a new standard in consumer engagement.