BEIJING: Marketers seeking to make in-roads in China should tap emerging trends such as rising individualism, the increased uptake of new technology and "cocooning", new research suggests.

MEC, the agency network, drew on insights provided by 50 "trend scouts" across China, and then asked 565 internet users from seven cities to rank these suggestions.

The widespread move towards "Me Consumption" and championing an individual outlook claimed first position, a shift encouraged by the rise of digital media outlets, and especially social media.

MEC stated the number of bloggers in China has grown by 12% in the last four years, and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology this week revealed 300m people, from a web audience of 485m users, utilise microblogs.

"An ordinary individual can now have his or her own broadcasting platform. Each person is a source of information, becoming the hub of his or her sphere of influence," MEC said.

Second place in the rankings went to the surging popularity of eco-friendly attitudes, ahead of the advent of a "hybrid economy", as firms like carmakers and luggage manufacturers bundle relevant goods and services together.

The fourth most-referenced trend was described as "Tech 360", as new technologies like smartphones facilitate greater interconnections between different media and consumption channels.

Indeed, Strategy Analytics reported this week that China has overtaken the US as the world's biggest smartphone market, after handset shipments hit 24m devices in the last quarter.

Elsewhere, MEC predicted "grass roots" involvement in marketing and innovation should gain ground. In evidence of this, the number of people posting related comments online has grown from 2.8% in 2008 to 9.4% today, it said.

"Cocooning", or staying at home more often, was a further key shift. The amount of people participating in this habit, known as Zhai, has expanded in all of the last seven years, and 76% of people in this demographic think it will become more common.

MEC said: "The proliferation of the Zhai lifestyle brings with it an entire Zhai economy, such as home delivery service, e-shopping, increased need for communication and technology products."

Other trends identified included gamification, giving away free products if consumers help companies - for example by acting as advocates or taking part in research - and a preference for alternative sensory experiences.

Data sourced from MEC; additional content by Warc staff