Young Chinese shoppers prefer nuanced approach

03 March 2010

BEIJING: Young Chinese consumers prefer foreign brands which are tailored to reflect local tastes, and respond most to ad campaigns using a range of media, Enovate, the research firm, has found.

According to the company, the "youth population" in the Asian nation now stands at 200 million people, with 93% of this group living outside Tier 1 cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

Nearly three-quarters of the Chinese online audience, which is estimated to have surpassed 300 million users, is drawn from the 13–34-year-old demographic at present.

Looking forward, it is predicted that there will be 500 million people under the age of 30-years-old in the rapidly-developing economy by 2015, equivalent to the current citizenship of the European Union.

Results from an Enovate survey conducted among this group revealed that over 60% of participants favoured foreign brands which adapted their designs to suit the needs of customers in the country.

Indeed, products which did so enjoyed stronger equity than multinational goods failing to make any such modifications, and alternatives produced by domestic manufacturers.

Companies like Pizza Hut, the restaurant chain, Buick, the auto marque, and New Balance, the running and footwear specialist, were identified as performing particularly well in this area.

Another trend exerting a profound impact among young consumers is the "proliferation of technology that continues to bridge the gap between China's online and offline social networks," the report said.

One example of this is Douban, a social media service which allows netizens to promote physical events and gatherings – such as "Tuan Gou", or group shopping trips – in the digital space.

P1, a "private social network" targeted at people with an "international lifestyle, common values and interests", is among the other sites which are gaining ground in this sector.

Similarly, 360Quan, a teen-focused online community, is likely to see an increase in interest as it successfully taps in to niche concerns.

With regard to advertising, the study reported that Chinese youth give higher approval ratings to campaigns that are "fully integrated engaging, creative, and displayed across both traditional and online channels."

Mobile phones and Sony's PlayStation Portable are also seeing usage levels rise, showing that platforms providing a range of functions, from shopping to reading books, are ever more important to the "post-1978 economic reform generations".

"The key to success in 2010 and onwards will be how well brands use an integrated approach to their campaigns and brand touch points," Enovate added.

It also reported that 80% of individuals boasting an annual income of at least 250,000 yuan ($36,614; €27,084; £24,621) are under 45-years-old in the world's most populous market, a figure that is considerably lower in the US or Japan.

Data sourced from Enovate; additional content by Warc staff