Side-hustle: China’s small-town youth are busting butt for fun and profit

Kendra Schaefer:

As internet use diversifies across China’s population, reaching younger, older, and rural demographics, there’s been a general scramble to understand these emerging consumer markets. Last month, we took a look at China’s Gen Z, collecting study results and big data reports to piece together a profile on “the Focused Generation”.

It’s interest stuff, but there’s one major flaw in most of the data: though there are huge disparities between the needs and characteristics of urban and rural residents, studies tend to lump the two together, drawing conclusions that are either biased towards urban populations, or are too general to be actionable. But a series of new reports are turning the lens on the attitudes of xiaozhen qingnian 小镇青年, or “small town youth”.

Drawing on big data scraped from its user base of 230 million 18-35 year olds from third-tier cities and below, short video platform Kuaishou 快手 painted a picture of a hard-working demographic willing to roll up their sleeves in the name of self-improvement: