May 14, 2015
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China: Chinese consumers’ individualism boon for brands 

May 14, 2015

Previously eager for social status, Chinese consumers are now looking for personalized thrills and enjoyment. "Individualism is coming to the fore; everything is centered on me, me, me," said Yvonne Lum, Vice President, Sales Effectiveness at Nielsen Hong Kong.

Yvonne Lum - Nielsen

Searching for highly emotional events, the "Chinese Me Generation" is sensitive to dates and special days. "Besides classic holidays like Valentine's Day on February 14 and ‘White Day’ on March 14, which sees girls and women giving gifts to their partners, brands can proactively create special occasions. Most recently, April 17, a date that phonetically evokes the expression "die together" in Chinese, has become the occasion for shoppers to splurge,” said Yvonne Lum. 

Celebrated on November 11, Singles Day, another special day created with consumerism in mind, generated 2.7 billion euros last year, three times more than the total sales made in the United States on Black Friday. 

Complete Experience

Another means of satisfying Chinese consumers’ thirst for thrills and intense living, travel is one of those "things that everyone should do at least once in their lives," continued Lum. According to Nielsen, Australia is the number one destination, followed by France and the United States. "The fall of the euro will play in European brands’ favor, since the Chinese will be encouraged to go to Europe and to shop," said Lum, who noted that spending by Chinese tourists abroad has recorded double digit growth. 

A corollary to this new individualism: the discovery of local culture has become more important and takes up time previously devoted to shopping. "Hong Kong and Macao are no longer the preferred shopping destinations for the Chinese, who would now sooner go to go to Korea and Europe for the complete experience," explained Lum. With a limited amount of time to attract tourists, luxury stores in these countries take great care in preparing in advance, before these visitors even depart. "Hence the need to develop an online strategy, and engage with consumers in China," emphasized Lum. Nevertheless, according to her, an online presence in China isn’t enough to attract tourists to European stores. “Brick-and-mortar stores in China are also needed to establish a brand," she said. 

That’s even more the case given that Chinese brands are emerging on the local market. "Seagull watches, Shang Xia, Shanghai Tang and Exception, which are included among the top 10 Chinese luxury brands, have been very successful in China," said Lum, who reports that, in a new development, the Chinese first lady wore clothes designed by a Chinese brand, Exception, during her last official visit to Russia. Faced with this growing competition, European brands nevertheless can play upon their "heritage and history", according to Lum. In the land where there’s a desire to live life to the fullest, the evocation of a brand’s rich past may also create a thrill triggering a purchase. 

Marie-Hélène Corbin


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