Since the economic development of China, the country has undergone many transformations and its inhabitants as well. Social and economic changes have changed the profile of the Chinese consumer. Following the many changes that the country has experienced, it is now necessary to approach Chinese consumers differently. Of course, it is impossible to make generalities, especially on a population of more than one billion inhabitants but in this article, we are going to try to see the trends that can characterize the Chinese consumers of today.
Chinese consumers are constantly evolving. They have recently experienced what Japan experienced in the 60s or what South Korea and Taiwan did during the 80s. The rapid industrialization of the country has led to a wave of modernization. This resulted in higher wages, a better level of education, increased mobility, massive urbanization. But other factors have shaped the character of the Chinese consumer, including the political and socio-demographic context of the country! In particular, the one-child policy introduced in 1979 and abolished in 2015, which had a heavy impact on an entire generation.
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But in general, the Chinese get richer, and this younger and younger. Their purchasing power continues to increase and it should follow this trend, to finally catch up in a few years with what the Koreans are having now. This is still far from one of Americans but by their number and potential, the Chinese remain a very interesting target regardless of your industry. Let’s see what factors are important today for them and what criteria their consumption habits will be based on.
Quality rather than price
Although in the past consumers generally preferred to buy many inexpensive local products, this trend is reversing today. With purchasing power higher than before, the Chinese today tend to want to invest in more sustainable products with better quality. Even if the price remains an essential factor in the purchase decision, a very low price on the market will not guarantee you the same success as it could have done before. The Chinese like to learn about the product and be sure that its quality is worth the price.
Towards a healthier lifestyle
One of the main trends that can be noticed in the country is their growing interest in anything that aspires to a healthier lifestyle. The Chinese are paying more and more attention to their bodies as well as their physical and mental health. They do more and more sports and prefer to consume healthy and even organic products when they can afford it! This change in lifestyle is particularly observed in the major Westernized cities of the country, such as Shanghai. We can see that in shopping centers, fast food is replaced by more “hipster” places, where food is healthy and of good quality. This is also the kind of meal that the Chinese like to share on their social networks (including Wechat), in addition to photos of their sports training.
More time for fun
While the Chinese had a rather ordinary pace of life mainly filled by work, today they really want to improve their quality of life. This involves exercise and diet as seen in the previous point, but also by leisure and entertainment. Chinese consumers are looking for a happier lifestyle, filled with unique experiences and quality moments with friends and family. The goal is not to accumulate goods, but to acquire emotions, memories, shared pleasure. For that, they are ready to spend without counting. It can be seen in major shopping centers that all kinds of activities are proposed to meet this desire. But it is a factor that is also valid for the tourism industry, an industry that is doing very well in China, especially thanks to the new desires of Chinese consumers.
Focus on e-commerce
Even though stores remain important for branding, customer experience, and sensory marketing, the Chinese are turning more and more to e-commerce. The two dominant platforms in the country are Tmall and JD.com. Although they are still far from completely replacing the physical stores, revenue from this market in China last year was as large as that of Europe and the United States combined. Buying online saves time and money for the Chinese. But it has also become a totally mundane shopping experience for this smartphone-addicted and fully digitalized population.
More and more loyal
While the Chinese tended to look for the price first when buying something, this is now rarer. Consumers have today the opportunity (thanks to their rising purchasing power) to test a wider variety of products. They can see what they like and what they like less. The Chinese have thus become more and more sophisticated. Now that they know what they want, they like to be loyal to one or a few brands, whether it is for their grocery shopping, their clothes or their car.
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