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Upheavals in taste and shopping habits sweep China

  • Author:naky
  • Source:www.diecastingpartsupplier.com
  • Release on:2016-03-29
A gentle moderation in China’s headline retail spending growth conceals multiple upheavals beneath the surface. Tastes and shopping habits are in flux as consumers rein in purchases of luxury items overseas, become more discerning at home and prioritise spending on their health, families and experiences, recent studies show.

Overall growth in discretionary spending was likely to continue moderating in March, according to a survey by the FTConfidential Research unit at the Financial Times. This would follow a 10.2 per cent year-on-year growth in retail sales in the first two months of the year, down from a full-year 10.7 per cent in 2015 and 12 per cent in 2014.

In terms of purchasing habits, a significant change is taking place among the hordes of free-spending outbound Chinese tourists, who said they were less likely than previously to buy big-ticket items such as luxury handbags, jewellery and watches while travelling abroad, according to an FTCR survey of 1,318 overseas travellers.

In contrast, spending on cosmetics, clothes, shoes, electronics and souvenirs held up or increased relative to the results of the same survey conducted in 2015. The World Travel and Tourism Council, an industry body, estimated last week that Chinese tourists spent $215bn outside mainland China in 2015, a 53 per cent rise from $140bn in 2014.

Key reasons cited for the slide in big-ticket luxury purchases outside China were the easing prices of similar goods at home and the increasing volume of cross-border online shopping, FTCR said.

Mintel, a research firm, estimates that cross-border online shopping grew at a compound annual growth rate of 63 per cent between 2010 and 2015. Total online cross-border shopping is forecast to rise to $222bn by 2020, up from $97.3bn last year, Mintel forecasts, accounting for 17 per cent of the $1.3tn in Chinese online sales expected in 2020.

This trend was echoed in a growing aversion toward products seen as less healthy or potentially harmful, according to the McKinsey survey, which polled 10,000 consumers in 44 cities in late 2015. Carbonated soft drinks, chewing gum, ice cream and western fast food all slipped in popularity compared with a similar survey in 2012, McKinsey found (see chart).

Surging sales in China of Momchilovtsi, a Bright Dairy yoghurt brand that uses bacteria from a Bulgarian village that is said to bestow long life, encapsulates the shift toward healthy eating, as do the high prices for speciality teas and robust demand for Thai jasmine rice.

However, when the Chinese find brands that they are satisfied with, they appear more likely to stick with them, according to the McKinsey survey. The number of consumers willing to switch to a brand outside their “short list” has dropped. In apparel, for example, the number of consumers willing to consider a brand outside their usual consideration fell from 40 per cent in 2011 to just below 30 per cent in 2015 (see chart).

Increasingly, Chinese people look for memorable experiences rather than products, with cinema, dining, spa visits and travel all posting a robust following. Wang Yang, chief operating officer of Zanadu, an online travel agency specialising in overseas travel, told FTCR: “Our clients go to the opera in Italy, watch the Northern Lights in Scandinavia and dine at Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris.”