Loneliness: the latest economic niche opening up in China

Young people in big cities seeking emotional outlets by embracing loneliness and consuming loneliness. A new type of Chinese consumer: well-educated, young and willing to spend – but spending alone. The empty nest youth is an emerging theme in China’s economy. Mini karaoke booths, one-pot hotpot restaurants and many mobile games to accompany the lonely. We may see a phenomenon, facilitated by technology, where young Chinese people, especially millennials, are looking for individual experiences and personalized services more than the previous generation; not unlike their peers in other countries. However, I’d argue that technology is facilitating loneliness rather than allowing Chinese consumers to embrace it. There is plenty of evidence that youngsters would rather spend time on their smartphones than on playing with friends, dating, working and just hanging around. The slightly addictive nature of certain social networks and the fact that a handful of technology giants control those information streams does make me worry about the long-term societal effects.

Read more: South China Morning Post