5 Things to Know About Chinese Consumers

  • Reading time:3 min(s) read

The world is watching a slowing China and is increasingly concerned that China’s consumers are about to close their wallets. A new report from consultancy McKinsey & Co. says that won’t likely be the case. Here are five takeaways from the report, which surveyed 10,000 consumers, ages 18 to 65, across 44 Chinese cities.

1 Chinese consumers are even more confident than those in the U.S.

Chinese shoppers are willing to spend because they feel pretty confident that that their incomes will rise over the next five years. Confidence levels vary by region and are lower in Northeastern China, where the manufacturing industry has been sinking for years, but consumers in China are even more optimistic than in the U.S. or U.K. In 2011, 32% of Americans said they expected household income to rise in the next five years. For the most part, Chinese consumers seem unaware that the Chinese economy is deteriorating.

2 Chinese consumers are not homebodies.

Anything that can be experienced beyond the house is better for Chinese consumers. Forget dinner at home with the family, Chinese want entertainment and a meal out. It’s all about the adventure. Spas, massages and travel are the ultimate as spending on service boosts. Of consumers surveyed, 23% said they would spend more on travel if incomes rise, an increase from 14% in 2012.

3 Foreign brands are out. Chinese are in.

The days when shoppers gravitated only to the foreign brands are officially over. Chinese brands have won trust and earned consumer loyalty. Last year, 62% of consumers said that given similar quality and price, they would prefer Chinese brands to foreign ones. That compares to 42% in 2009.

4 Chinese will pay more for the best – even on rice or beer.

Not only are many Chinese consumers not pulling back on their spending, they’re actually spending more. Half of consumers surveyed say they want the most expensive product and are willing to shell out for the best. Forty-four percent say that they pay more for cosmetics, while 36% say they trade up for spirits and 26% buy more expensive hair products.

5 China’s gone health nuts.

Like Americans, Chinese are becoming more health conscious, with 72% of consumers last year worrying that the food they eat is harmful to their health, up from 60% in 2012. Half of consumers are focused on eating food they think is nutritious and they’re cutting out the food they think isn’t. Soda is losing fans, with carbonated drinks faced a 26% penetration drop last year, while Western fast food saw a 24% drop.