China’s new middle class swaps karaoke for cruise holidays and thrilling rides, survey shows

China’s leisure market has overtaken Japan in terms of total expenditure to rank No 2 globally, trailing the US, according to consultancy OC&C

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 September, 2017, 6:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 September, 2017, 8:41pm

China’s new middle class are increasingly turning away from leisure activities such as singing karaoke to seek novel experiences such as cruise holidays and thrilling rides in theme parks, according to a survey by consultancy OC&C.

“What becomes apparent is the pivot towards newer experiences such as cruises and theme parks, which people perceive to offer high value for money,” said Pascal Martin, partner at OC&C.

“Customers say they expect to spend a lot more on these categories in future, compared to more traditional forms of entertainment such as karaoke,” he said.

China’s leisure sector has sustained 10 per cent annual growth since 2011, which is more than double the growth rates in other major markets, according to the survey.

China’s leisure market reached US$479 billion last year, overtaking Japan as the second-largest in terms of leisure expenditure, and trailing only the US where consumers spent US$1,984 billion, according to Euromonitor.

However, national leisure expenditure as a proportion of total consumer spending was only 11 per cent last year, compared to 21 per cent in the US and 17 per cent in the UK, according to Martin.

Companies that offer exciting and novel experiences to young people, especially millennials, would have an upper hand in the highly competitive leisure market, he said.

Unlike their parents’ generation, who would enjoy karaoke or playing Mahjong during their leisure time, China’s new middle class, made up largely of those born after 1980, have a preference for food, participation in sports and domestic travel segments, as well as theme parks and cruise holidays.

In contrast, drinking in bars, entertainment and visits to zoos received the most lacklustre response from the respondents polled in the survey.