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What you should know about Chinese consumers

What you should know about Chinese consumers article image

As China’s consumer market continues to evolve at a rapid speed, understanding fundamental changes in consumer behaviour is vital for business success. 

A new report by media agency MEC has identified nine key consumer trends in the China market, ranging from technology use to food habits. 

The report integrates input from over 60 trend and marketing specialists as well as analysis from syndicated databases on Chinese consumers. 

The top Chinese consumption trends for 2014 are: 

  • They’re becoming more obsessed with technology

According to the report, the “geek movement” has become mainstream in China, prompting a fascination with high-tech devices such as wearable tech. A survey finds that 31 percent of consumers say they are high-tech trendsetters, a number that’s up 35 percent since 2010. 

  • Work-life balance is becoming a must

Chinese consumers are more focused than ever on leading a “balanced” life. As the Chinese population becomes more affluent, they face ever growing pressures, from competition at work to food scandals and pollution. As a result, they want to rebalance. They look to spirituality. They aim to contribute back to society. They attempt to be more environmentally friendly. Consumers are challenging this back into their buying habits.

This is resulting in an uptick of “rejuvenation”-focused activities, such as yoga, going to the gym, or traveling. According to the survey, from 2011 to 2013, the number of mentions of the term “balanced life” grew from 2,705 to 1.3 million. 

  • They want to be inspired

Chinese consumers want to be inspired. They are increasingly looking at factors beyond the physical product when making consumption decisions. Throughout the entire purchase journey, they expect absorbing experiences to stimulate, educate and provoke. The report found that 84 percent of consumers would like to shop in an amiable environment – a 47 percent increase since 2010. So brands that excel at building superior experiences will enjoy a more loyal and active consumer base.   

  • They’re going shopping at night

Professionals that work all day need to get their shopping done later, and when stores aren’t open, they’re buying more online. 

  • They expect company transparency

Now more than ever, Chinese consumers have been empowered to make choices. Rampant fakes and product safety scandals mean that Chinese consumers are wary of brands in general, so companies that can establish consumer trust and create an image of transparency have a major advantage. When it comes to food and beverages — especially high-end items such as wine —QR codes noting the item’s origin have helped to ease fears. 

  • Chinese brands are gaining prestige. As Chinese brands rise in prominence, the term “domestic products” has taken off on social media with an increase of 2,379 percent. 
  • They’re going niche

Individualism is gaining steam in many consumer industries in China, with 53 percent of consumers saying that they are willing to pay for brands that they think are original and unique. This number is up 16 percent since 2010, and the term “niche” is often discussed on Chinese social media along with the terms “customized” and “luxury.” 

  • They’re becoming foodies

The report also finds that Chinese consumers are increasingly interested in trying and making new foods. Ratings of cooking shows and cookbook app downloads are up in China, and the attitude is heavily related to a perception of a cultured lifestyle — for example, the mobile all Meishijie is all about sharing beautiful photos of food. 

  • They’re doing almost everything more on mobile

We’ve heard this time and time again, and this study once again verifies the trend. The number of mobile users in China has rocketed by 98 percent in four years, and the number of mobile payment users increased by 43 percent in six months in 2013. Companies adopting a solid m-commerce strategy now are putting themselves in a solid position for the future. 

Thomas Nolsoee, Chief Strategy Officer, MEC China, said: In this environment there are real opportunities for existing and new companies to capitalize on the consumer trends in China. If you don’t, someone else will.”

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