Kuni Ding

Project Specialist

October 17, 2013

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5 Things To Know About Chinese Consumers

What retailers in China need to know about Chinese consumers today.

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As competition to satisfy customer expectation grows, the importance of understanding customer experience swells in parallel.

If you’re a retailer in China there are plenty of things to learn about both China and the unique marketplace within. Here are 5 of those things retailers should know about the Chinese consumers:

 1 – Chinese consumers are social networking too.

Chinese consumers aren’t on social media? No, in fact Chinese social media networks like Weibo and Renren have massive amounts of users and have been creating a social phenomenon in China. They are changing how people interact with one another, obtain information, and learn about the latest consumer products in the Chinese market. To learn more about Chinese social media, check out our article “8 Social Media Sites for Retailers in China” where we talk about the top social media sites being used currently in China and how retailers can leverage them.

2 -Chinese consumers have unique preferences.

This means brands need localization strategies. Although many international brands have well-established awareness built-up in countries outside China, they still need to adapt their brand marketing strategies to the local Chinese market or face communication gaps between retailers and the consumers. It’s very risky to assume a “copy and paste” approach to Chinese marketing strategy will be as effective as it might have been before. So what can retailers do? A good place to start would be to read our article on “8 ways apparel retailers can embrace localization trends“.

3 – Most Chinese consumers don’t live in Beijing or Shanghai.

Beijing and Shanghai might be famous, but did you know that China currently has over 30 cities with over a million people living in them. 12 of those cities have populations over 2 Million people. Start counting large cities with populations of 500,000 or more and that number starts to skyrocket. Beijing and Shanghai might represent good gateway cities for brands entering the China market, but don’t forget that those cities represent only a fraction of the total Chinese consumer landscape.

4 – Chinese consumers are hard to track.

In the west retailers are a bit spoiled because consumer data tends to be rich and readily available. While good consumer data does exist in China, it’s still relatively hard for retailers to find and even more of a challenge to digest and make sense of. If you want to learn more about why data in China is a challenge, then take a look at this article by data intelligence specialist Sam Ho discussing “5 common data headaches in emerging markets.”

5 – Chinese consumers love to buy gifts.

Chinese culture is filled with festivals and gift-giving occasions. Therefore retailers should be aware that Chinese consumers enjoy shopping for gifts more often then for themselves. To learn more about Chinese holidays, check out “5 Chinese Holidays Retailers Should Know.” Retailers who understand this culture of gift giving will be better at understanding how to deliver products Chinese consumers are looking for. A good example is luxury chocolatier Godiva offering chocolate moon-cakes during the mid-autumn festival. These tasty round-shaped pastries are traditionally filled with lotus paste and egg yolks, however Godiva took advantage of this tradition and added a little of their creativity to produce chocolate moon-cakes which were a big hit among the locals.

These are 5 things retailers need to know about the Chinese consumer as they get more sophisticated and the Chinese market gets harder to penetrate. Essentially, international brands need to know how to “think global and act local” or be forced out of business by competitors.

Also worth reading:
8 Social Media Sites For Retailers In China
7 Of The Most Popular Chinese Brand Chain Restaurants
8 Twitters Retailers In China Should Follow

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