China leads Asian consumption of technology

Smartphones are the most-owned tech device among online consumers in China

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 May, 2016, 10:28am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 May, 2016, 8:45am

Mainland Chinese consumers lead the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region in the early adoption of new technologies and online purchases of hi-tech products, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

The findings in the CTA’s latest market study buttress recent industry forecasts that the mainland will account for more than half of the global retail e-commerce market by 2018.

“Given the country’s robust online marketplace and enthusiasm for technology, it’s no surprise China is far-and-away the APAC region leader when it comes to early tech adoption and online tech purchases,” said Gary Shapiro, the CTA’s president and chief executive.

The CTA, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Association, and Intex Shanghai co-produced this year’s edition of the consumer electronics trade show CES Asia — a three-day event in Shanghai that concluded on Friday.

According to the association’s Asia-Pacific Consumer Tech Ownership and Opportunity Study, China has the highest percentage of self-reported early tech adopters, with 59 per cent indicating they buy a new tech device as soon, or shortly after, it is available.

Behind China are Malaysia and Indonesia at 49 per cent each. Vietnam is at 40 per cent and the Philippines is at 32 per cent.

The study found that 62 per cent of Chinese consumers are much more likely to shop online when considering their next tech purchase.

That is in contrast to Indonesia at 38 per cent, Malaysia at 33 per cent, Vietnam at 29 per cent and the Philippines on 24 per cent.

The study said smartphones are the most-owned tech device among online consumers in China, followed by desktop computers, laptop computers, digital cameras and headphones.

Many major Chinese smartphone brands, including Xiaomi, Oppo and OnePlus, have established internet retail strategies that include launching new devices online and making certain models exclusively available for online purchase.

Data from iResearch showed the gross merchandise value for online shopping of so-called 3C products — computers, communications and consumer electronics — on the mainland reached 168.06 billion yuan (HK$198.07 billion) in the first half of last year. JD.com cornered a 59.2 per cent share while Alibaba’s Tmall had 27.1 per cent.

A Morgan Stanley report said rising smartphone penetration in China’s lower-tier cities and rural areas has helped drive domestic e-commerce growth, led by the online retail platforms run by Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings-backed JD.com. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

“Chinese technology companies and consumers play a key role in the global economy,” said Steve Koenig, the senior director of market research at CTA.

New York-based research firm eMarketer has forecast mainland China’s total retail e-commerce sales in 2018 will grow 133 per cent to US$1.568 trillion, up from an estimated US$672 billion last year.

Worldwide retail e-commerce sales are forecast to grow 80 per cent to US$3.015 trillion in 2018 from last year’s estimated US$1.671 trillion, it said.

China is expected to make up the bulk of the Asia-Pacific online retail market by 2018, when the region’s total sales are projected to reach US$1.892 trillion.