• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 7:28pm
NewsChina

How the Chinese middle classes are becoming foodies and culture junkies

New report outlines consumer trends for 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2013, 5:18pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2013, 5:46pm

A report on consumer trends in China for the coming year suggests the country's growing middles classes will be spending their money on leisure activities, travelling and gourmet food.

Nostalgia will also influence their purchases, along with increased spending on the old and very young, according to the report by business consultancies MEC and CIC.

The data relies on consumer research along with online trends. More than 50 trend scouts collated the data into 25 trends that were then ranked by 1,200 consumers in 12 Chinese cities. Desk research further validated the top 10 trends, which were run through databases on consumption and media habits.

The results are largely unsurprising considering they represent consumers in a growing economy. However, some make for more interesting reading. For example, the report found that the Chinese are more concerned with food safety so are buying more organic food. They are also willing to spend money on insurance.

A breakdown of the top 10 trends are:

  • Paying for safety

According to the report, consumers have had enough of repeated food safety scares and fake products and many are paying more for organic food. Road safety is also an issue, supported by an increase in the number of Chinese motorists buying car insurance. A surge in the number of posts on both issues on blogging sites shows there is an overall higher concern for safety.

  • Everyone's going micro-mad

Whether it's buying clothes or watching movies, the Chinese want convenient and trouble-free purchases. They want to consume their films in shorter soundbites, and instead of buying a jacket for 2,000 yuan that will last 10 years, they want 10 jackets at 200 yuan. By the end of June 2012, netizens paying via mobile phone had already reached 44.4 million, representing a 46% increase over the end of 2011.

  • A hunger for culture

China's middle classes are developing an appetite for the arts, gourmet food and travel. They are spending more on threatre, concerts and leisure activities. Their tastes in food are changing too, consuming more high-brow cuisine than ever before. And most tellingly, they want to share their new tastes with everyone else on social media platforms by posting photos of where they are travelling to and what they're eating when they get there. An increase in SLR camera sales supports this data.

  • More spending on the young

The future is bright if you're the young child of a Chinese middle class couple. The report states that spending on education and expenses now dominates the household budget. More young people are using adult gadgets and products such as those produced by Apple. Parents are also investing more time in their offspring, with an increase in takings at the Chinese Box Office for children's films.

  • Singles turn to retail therapy

With not a care in the world, the increasing number of singles in China is boosting the leisure and retail industries. Record numbers of shoppers took advantage of Singles’ Day in November 2012, and particularly an offer of 50 per cent off at online merchants at Tmall.com. The report also claims that single people go to the cinema more often than anyone else. Smart phone apps that help singles meet others are also doing well, such as WeChat which has over 100 million users.

  • It's fashionable to be charitable

“Donate while you forward (your microblog)” and “donate by buying”: these are the ways in which the Chinese demonstrate their socially responsible activities. "More and more consumers are prepared to spend their free time serving others rather than working for money. Social responsibility is becoming more important to consumers."

  • A yearning for nostalgia

Consumers want their emotional needs met in the process of consumption. Retro products and posting blogs about them have become increasingly popular. Older films like Titanic 3D did huge business at the box office, bringing back memories for those who saw it the first time around. Retro Warrior Shoes took the fashion world by storm and tweets on “retro” in particular grew from 2,784,040 to 22,588,671 – a tenfold increase.

  • Old is the new young

China's middle class older generation are getting out of their seats travelling the world - and spending their money with it. Gone are the days when they had to save very penny. The current trend sees over 60s buying more mobile phones than ever, and more than 1.3 million senior netizens aged over 50 shopping online as the average income for the 55-64 cohort rises.

  • The “go-between” economy

Purchasing agent websites that enable users to track down luxury items at a cheaper price are growing in popularity with Chinese consumers. The market turnover of overseas purchasing agencies reached 25 billion RMB in 2011, a 140 per cent increase from 2010. Consumers are also car pooling, with websites such as www.pinker365.com becoming hugely popular.

  • Crossover Economy

Celebrities joining forces with stars from other disciplines, the integration of online and offline and the integration of 2D and 3D... This, according to the report, is what makes consumers happy.

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