CAN YOU AFFORD TO IGNORE THE CHINESE CONSUMER?

In light of China’s slowing growth (or for brands without operations in China), the Chinese consumer may have lost some of his sheen.

And yet, the Chinese consumer landscape continues to evolve at a breakneck pace. Gone are the days when shopping was a purely functional endeavor for Mainland Chinese consumers. Shopping is now the national pastime–it’s weekend hobby, theme park getaway and superbowl all rolled into one.

With the rise of discretionary spending and access to information, today’s Chinese consumers represent an increasingly diverse and sophisticated set of views. Moreover, with their propensity to travel – 120 million traveled outside China, spending $215 billion in 2015 alone – global brands ignore Chinese consumers at their peril.

As Chinese consumers evolve, so too does the role of brands in their lives. Against the backdrop of such accelerated development, brands become an essential expression of people’s aspirations and values.

To better understand what drives Chinese consumers and motivates them, we took a journey into aspiration, designing an innovative new approach to consumer segmentation. Using custom creative visual projection techniques, we were able to segment consumers based on a single question: “What image would you like to project?”.

Our new research methodology went beyond traditional segmentation of who the consumer is today, providing a deeper, richer understanding of who the consumer aspires to be in the future. It revealed nine image-driven segments with a broad range of aspirational styles ranging from the more traditional status-driven to the more self-expressive, each segment with its own unique demographics, behaviors, attitudes and needs.

Our study revealed a powerful shift happening amongst Chinese consumers, toward different types of self-expression and, perhaps more importantly, a dramatic shift away from traditional, established brand norms. Achievement and success have long been important values in Chinese culture with brands playing an essential role in communicating one’s success. While that desire to display success is unwavering, the way Chinese consumers demonstrate their success is changing.

More and more Chinese consumers are seeking their own individualistic styles and are very selective in their choice of brands to help them express their style. This shift is challenging the dominance of more established brands, including traditional luxury brands, while creating new opportunities for emerging or alternative brands with a strong point of view.

For brands wanting to appeal to Chinese consumers, it is crucial to understand which type of Chinese consumer will have the best fit with your brand — whose deep-seated motivations and aspirations echo those of your brand. With the rising “Me generation” (born after 1980) of super consumers 410 million strong, can you afford not to?

To learn more about aspirational segmentation or the Chinese consumer, contact us at 203-276-6262 or email dan-xia@fletcherknight.com. To receive regular insights on brand strategy and innovation please sign up for our newsletter or connect with us on LinkedIn.

CATEGORIES // BRAND POSITIONING, TRENDS
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