Female consumers increase spending in China

30 August 2010

BEIJING: Female shoppers are increasing their expenditure levels in a wide variety of product categories in China, a study has found.

Women of China, the magazine, surveyed 1,074 members of this demographic in ten major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. (A summary translation is available here.)

Only 6.3% of the panel said the recession had exerted a severe impact on their lifestyle, while 44.2% argued its influence had been modest, and 18.7% had noticed largely insignificant differences.

Furthermore, 37% suggested their purchase habits were unlikely to change despite the uncertain economic situation, and 6.8% stated buying goods now would offset later rises in inflation.

The typical respondent directed 63% of her monthly income to acquiring items such as clothes and cosmetics, saving just 24%.

By contrast, the average participant splashed out 55% of their earnings in 2006, and placed 30% into a bank account.

In value terms, urban females generated an individual outlay of 21,900 yuan ($3,221; €2,538; £2,089) each over the course of 2009, with apparel attracting the largest share, on 29.4%.

Digital offerings like mobile phones and cameras came second on this measure on 10.8%, ahead of tourism in third on 9.5%.

Elsewhere, 84% of the sample revealed they snapped up new cosmetics products every month, often tending to favour "prominent consumer brands."

Online commerce is also gaining in popularity, with 42.3% of those polled buying goods and services via the web, an increase from 20.1% in 2008.

However, 33.5% agreed this was "no substitute" for visiting malls, department stores and similar sites, which are regarded as a source of entertainment.

"It is an inarguable truth that women decide consumption volume," Han Xiangjing, head of Women of China, said.

"Since Chinese women are playing a stronger role in household finances, they can spend more money improving their lives."

A broader contributor to this trend was the stimulus package unveiled by the country's government, providing incentives for purchases of white goods and other appliances.

Elsewhere in the study, women in Qingdao were revealed to be the happiest overall, posting a score of 70%, falling to 57.5% in Beijing.

Turning to quality of life, Hangzhou delivered a rating of 83.9%, with Beijing scoring 36.5%, even though its female residents are among the highest earners and most educated.

The top priorities of respondents included family health on 69.6%, family harmony on 66.2% and seeing their children make progress on 36.3%.

The most content women were 51-60 year olds with a stable job and monthly salaries in the range of 4,001 to 4,500 yuan.

Main concerns encompassed the price of property, rising domestic costs and an inability to reduce household expenditure.

Data sourced from Women of China; additional content by Warc staff