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China's Gen Z inspires beverage makers to take on Coca-Cola

Patriotism and slick marketing fuel sky-high valuations for new companies

A courier picks up an order from Chinese bubble tea chain Nayuki in Beijing on June 24.    © Reuters

A shift in interest among young Chinese toward homegrown products, and a desire to lead healthier lifestyles, has opened the door for more local brands to challenge big international names such as Coca-Cola and Starbucks, fueling investor interest in startups and inflating valuations.

The change is being driven by Generation Z -- those born in the late 1990s -- who grew up during a period of unprecedented domestic economic growth and China's rise to global prominence. This has instilled in them confidence, national pride and a sense of nostalgia for all things Chinese.

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