It’s official. China has leapfrogged the US to become the world’s largest trading nation and remains on track to become the world’s biggest e-commerce market by 2015. This means the importance attached to understanding the Chinese consumer is greater than ever before.
With this in mind, we collaborated with social business intelligence provider CIC to look into the key consumption trends in China for 2013. The rapid increase in social media usage in China is transforming the methods for understanding consumer behaviour and conducting market research. The online world, with its liveliness, frankness and outspokenness, offers an additional perspective to a better understanding of consumer opinion and market pulse.
Consumption Trends China 2013 details what’s next for marketers approaching the Chinese market to inspire the discovery of new business models, products, services and experiences to meet the ever-evolving needs of Chinese consumers.
Some of the key consumption trends for 2013 highlighted are:
A willingness to pay for ‘safe products’: After a long history of food safety issues, poor workmanship and fake products in the market, Chinese consumers are now willing to pay a premium for ‘safe products’. Road and food safety are much-talked about topics across social media, and increasing numbers of consumers are buying ‘safe products’ such as organic food and insurance packages.
Micro consumption: There is a rising demand amongst Chinese consumers for convenient, cheaper and more widely available products. Marketers are encouraged to use more targeted advertising and promotional efforts in order to reach these new consumer groups better. This represents an opportunity for marketers to make life more convenient for their customers whilst at the same time increase their sales.
Spectacular Singles: As the number of single men and women in China continues to rise so too does the need for customised consumption opportunities for this audience. Without the burden of family responsibilities, single people in China are ‘living in the present’ and are more willing to spend for immediate gratification.
‘Grey hair craze’: According to the Sixth National Population Census, just over 13% of Chinese people are 60+ years old, and nearly 9% are 65+. This represents increases of 3.93% and 1.91%, respectively, since the previous census. Unlike their predecessors, the over 60s in China today no longer save every penny and are now willing to spend more money on a pleasant and more high-quality retirement.
What do these trends mean for marketers?
An integration of online and offline: Consumers tailor their usage of online and offline media and platforms based on their information or entertainment needs, accessibility and convenience in terms of time and location. Online and offline media should be seamlessly integrated as a single communication tool. The key is to drive traffic from online to offline and vice versa as consumers move along the purchase pathway.
Mobile: A strong mobile strategy is required to capture the immediacy of each and every ‘micro-purchase.’ Mobile strategy can be integrated into the e-commerce and/or communication plan via the use of gamification, augmented reality, social couponing and mapping technologies.
Trustworthiness: There is a trust deficit in China and it is therefore more vital than ever for brands to gain and retain consumers’ trust. Brands can promote their reputation for trustworthiness through social media platforms and word of mouth channels. Success for any e-commerce player in China involves tackling the various components influencing trust along every step of the purchase pathway.
Social commerce: Chinese consumers are becoming increasingly social along the purchase pathway. They are prolific reviewers and readers of online product reviews. Brands need to create or leverage social platforms for their customers to share and tell, thus enhancing brand relevance and brand preference in the process.
By Theresa Loo, head of strategy planning, Analytics & Insight, MEC China