Seven character you should know about Chinese “face consumption”

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These purchases, which are not for practical needs, but merely to show off and gratify the owners’vanity, are called “face consumptions”, China Daily explains.

According to the data from WLA (World Luxury Association), the average expense of Chinese people on luxuries in Europe has reached 50 billion USD in 2011. In domestic market, luxuries also sell well. In 2011, 15.7 billion USD was spent on luxuries only in shopping malls in China, increasing by 20% from 2010.

trend of China luxury market

trend of China luxury market

One very important reason to explain the crazy increase is the unique face consumption habit of Chinese.

It has been discovered that some Chinese people have found a new creative way to save face.

Some people who cannot afford top-brand products are buying paper bags with high-end brand names or logos to gratify their vanity. Some are even finding top brand labels, instruction books and receipts sold online. (See more about face-consumption market in China.)

gucci instruction book 3 rmb

gucci instruction book: 3 Yuan(0.5 USD)

Actually in China, you can find the existence of face consumption in almost all the markets. Price-insensitive consumers are always attractive to all the companies. To lead this group of consumers to buy your product, you’d better get to know more about them in the first place.

Jinan Daily has summarized 7 characters of face-consumption in China.

1. Face consumption exists everywhere

Where there is needs for face, there is face consumption. From the wallet to furniture, from tobacco to car, you can always find some Chinese consumers seeking something more expansive than the others to show their face. That’s why even for luxury paper bags, sky-high price can attract so many customers.

2. Immune from price

This is a unique character of face consumption. Those face consumers are not likely to consider too much about price, their own income, what matters is only how much face it offers. According to a survey from Sina, on opinion of Chinese on face consumption, 52.4% interviewees think middle-class people are the main face consumers, 46.8% think young-rich, even migrant workers, whose monthly income is about 275 USD also get 15.3% vote. And 35.9% of the interviewees agree that face consumers are from people of all classes.

3. No consideration on practical use

Face is so important than practical use is nothing compared with it.
For example, a kind of traditional Chinese food Zongzi can be packaged as luxury food for face consumption and sold at 50 USD while it only costs 0.5 USD to make.


As an expert in the Zongzi industry, Mr. Chi looks down on the excessive fillings such as abalone (in China, it is regarded as the best seafood) being added. He explained that these fillings are only used to increase the price, not to improve the health or tastiness of the Zongzi.
See more about luxury food in China.

4. Invoice

In China, relationship with customers is so important that every time on holidays, companies will spend a lot on gifts for customers.
One of the best gifts in mid-autumn holiday is the crab from Yangcheng Lake.

expansive Yangcheng Lake crab

(Yangcheng Lake is the most famous area of origin for the Chinese mitten crabs which are a considered a delicacy. The best time of visiting the lake is Sep and Oct because the Chinese mitten crabs migrate from Yangcheng Lake towards the Yangtze delta for mating in September and October. Source: cultural China)
According to the report from Renmin web, 80% of the crabs sold every year are probably for business gift use because their buyers usually ask for invoice for the crab while with the title of office supplies. A salesman also explains that customers usually are from companies and spend tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands only on crabs.

5. Package

No matter for face or for relationship, package is quite important.
And people would even like to spend money only on package only for face.
As mentioned before, some people who cannot afford top-brand products are buying paper bags with high-end brand names or logos to gratify their vanity. Some are even finding top brand labels, instruction books and receipts sold online.

6. Culture and festival

During different festivals, you can discover different kind of face consumption. For example, two types of face consumption food are Zongzi and Yangcheng Crab which are traditional food for Duanwu and Mid-autumn. By the way, as rose more and more becoming a must for Valentine’s Day, other foreign festival related products such as wine can be interesting for Chinese customers.

7. Following consumption trends

This character has already been used by many foreign companies.

panic buying for iphone4s

For example, Apple has taken 15% share of China smart phone market. However, the price of their cell phone is above the average salary of Chinese people.