Chinese consumers favour price over brands

14 April 2010

BEIJING: A majority of Chinese consumers think brands play a role in shaping their purchase decisions in the apparel category, but factors like price and quality are considered to be more important.

Cotton Incorporated and Cotton Council International, the industry bodies, partnered with ACNielsen, the research firm, to survey 7,000 adults in the country.

This sample was drawn from the 15–54 year old demographic, residing in 15 cities across China, including Beijing, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Shanghai.

When asked to pick their favourite retail activity, 37% of shoppers said buying clothes, while 34% opted for buying food.

Overall, 91% of respondents reported that style was their primary motivation when choosing apparel products, a figure that fell to 90% for quality and 73% for price.

By contrast, 60% of men, and 51% of their female counterparts, argued that the brand concerned had an impact on their final decision.

Just 38% of participants stated it was "important" to choose a Chinese brand, while 22% thought the same when it came to items of Western origin.

Two-thirds of contributors regularly acquired clothes and accessories from department stores, with 56% doing so in dedicated fashion chains.

At the other end of the price spectrum, the same number reported that they frequently picked up these kinds of goods at supermarkets including Wal-Mart and Carrefour.

More specifically, 37% of the panel made most of their new category purchases in department stores, falling to 19% for fashion chains and 14% for hypermarkets.

Nearly three-quarters of those polled reported that they "liked" or "somewhat liked" browsing and buying apparel brands, a perception that peaked among younger consumers and women.

Group shopping was said to be a unique feature of this market, with 44% of those taking part in the survey preferring to shop for apparel with members of their family, and 34% with friends.

In keeping with this trend, the opinions of other people was one of the major influences which helped individuals identify what they wanted in-store.

Some 54% of consumers in China favoured visiting malls when they were looking to make purchases, compared with 25% who afforded this status to stand-alone outlets.

A further 35% of participants believed they were early adopters of new trends, a view that reached a high of 55% in Shanghai.

Zara and H&M are among the fast-fashion chains which are seeking to enhance their presence in China at present.

Luxury brands like Gucci and Burberry are planning similar expansions.

Data sourced form China Textile Magazine; additional content by Warc staff