Chinese consumers feel impact of downturn

16 March 2009

BEIJING: Almost three-quarters of Chinese consumers say the global financial crisis is having a direct impact on their lives, and over half also plan to switch to cheaper brands in product sectors including snacks and beverage and personal care and beauty, according to Lightspeed Research.

Chinese consumers are typically regarded as being more conservative in their spending habits than their Western counterparts, and normally take a longer-term view of their situation.

Based on an online survey of 11,301 people from across China, Lightspeed Research found that 15% of respondents said the economic downturn is having a "big impact" on their lives.

Almost a third said it has exerted "some" effect, while 31% had seen "a little" difference due to the financial slump, and 22% either "none" or "not sure".
The middle class appears to be the most anxious about the current situation, with a total of 81% of respondents from this group stating they had either "some" or "big" concerns.

Lightspeed Research also examined 36 product categories from food and household goods to travel and financial investment, and found that the most concerned consumers will cut their spending in an average of 8.9 sectors, and increase it in just 1.4.

Categories most at risk from falling spending include eating out at Western fast food restaurants (cited by 52% of respondents), high-risk financial investments (40%), discretionary items (40%) and premium beauty products/jewellery (39%).
WARC Online subscribers can view the full findings of Lightspeed Research's study into Chinese consumers in the downturn by clicking here.

Data sourced from Lightspeed Research; additional content by WARC staff