SHANGHAI: Consumer confidence in China is at a ten year high, people have higher incomes than ever, more choices than ever – and marketers can’t think in terms of the “Chinese consumer” any more, according to a new study.

“Big picture trends no longer provide the nuanced insights into consumer behaviour that marketers need to make their decisions,” said consulting firm McKinsey in Double-clicking on the Chinese consumer, a report based on a survey of 10,000 consumers aged 18 to 65 across 44 cities and seven rural villages and towns.

Current confidence levels are evident in Singles Day sales, which in 2017 were 40% up on the previous year. Consumers are spending more on discretionary items, the report noted, partly driven by a desire to trade up to more premium brands.

Greater disposable income has also seen certain sections of society spending more on health and fitness, an area where the truth of McKinsey’s assertion about there being no such thing as a typical Chinese consumer becomes clear.

Two thirds of the survey were attempting to lead a healthier lifestyle, but going about it in very different ways.

Some 25% could be described as “back to basics”, taking a natural, holistic approach to health and wellness; another 30% are “balance seekers” looking concerned about all aspects of health – physical, mental and their relationships with others; and 10% are “exercise enthusiasts” focused on their own bodies and driving sales of exercise clothing and equipment.

For the remaining third, a quarter are simply indifferent and around a tenth are “driven workaholics” who are too busy to worry about healthy living.

Another trend the report observed was how the “post-90s” generation is emerging as the new engine of consumption – and, as with health and wellness, this group holds varied views that marketers will have to understand if their communications are to be effective.

The single biggest segment among post-90s consumers is “happiness seekers” (39%) – mostly students who are far less concerned about brands than their peers.

“Success seekers” (27%) are stressed, focused on getting rich and tend to buy what they like when they like; the “laid back (15%) segment has little interest in premium, branded or high-tech goods.

“Spendthrifts” (10%), by contrast, are well-educated, high earners ready to buy the latest fashions and top brands to stand out from the crowd. Finally, “homebirds” (8%) are low-income, predominantly female, consumers living at home and saving.

Sourced from McKinsey; additional content by WARC staff