Three Myths About Chinese Consumers 對中國消費者的三大迷信

指導者:張蕙娟 摘譯者:陳萾 By Shaun Rein on June 27, 2012

中國大陸的零售業成長率在五月時從原本分析師們已經習慣的16%到18%減緩到13.8%。很多分析師因此開始驚慌,因這可能是中國大陸消費奇蹟的結束。

但這些擔憂已經消滅了,消費者的花費還是在成長狀態,無疑的是,中國的經濟還是有受到歐債危機和美國景氣復原的影響。在中國經濟成長率稍緩和公司面對更多競爭時,品牌經理們更需要釐清這些對於中國的消費習慣的迷信。

 

迷信一:中國消費者不會花錢在居家用品上

「中國人在居家用品方面認為花越少錢越好。由於他們會想向外界炫耀,因此不會花大錢在無法在外展現財力的居家用品上,進而轉向購買一些價錢合宜又好用的家電,像是海爾家電和格力電器。」Tom Doctoroff這麼認為。

但Doctoroff先生的結論並不符合500個中國淨賺500,000元受訪者的想法。我們發現有90%的人較傾向於購買大宗又高價的外國品牌家電。他們覺得非中國品牌的產品擁有較好的功能及基礎科技。

進一步深入了解,發現多數女性花最多錢(也是消費金額成長最快的地方)的是臥室,這是消費者寵愛自己的一種方式。28歲的上海女性解釋:「我努力工作,回到家我想當一個公主。」

 

迷信二:中國消費者對閃亮華麗的東西很著迷

中國消費者當然會想要表現自己的社會地位,但那些在金字塔頂端的消費者近來越來越含蓄、不華麗。他們覺得像LV等名牌太過「普遍」,也「太閃亮」。他們轉向喜歡像Bottega Veneta這類較含蓄的品牌,它不會讓人一眼就認出來,反而只有一定階級的人才會熟悉。

 

迷信三:中國消費者不注重經驗

許多營銷人員指出:中國人注重累積財產勝於別的經驗。但這個理論一下子就不適用於現今富有的中國人了。他們追求的是新的體驗和新的生活方式,像是到偏遠地區去冒險或是參加高檔的狩獵旅行,戶外是他們最佳活動場所,因此激起了相關產業或品牌的興起,像登山休閒服飾及相關用品店、俱樂部。中國人十分願意出國遊玩,進一步成為「生活方式和經驗」的鑑賞家。就算零售業目前處於近幾年來的低潮,中國人的消費量卻還在攀升中。

 

China’s retail sales growth slowed to 13.8 percent in May, down from the 16 percent to 18 percent annual growth analysts have grown accustomed to. Many analysts are panicking, saying the data indicate the end of the Chinese consumption story.

These fears are overblown. Consumer spending is still recording strong growth in many sectors. In May, BMW’s sales in China grew 31.5 percent, while Audi’s grew 44.2 percent year over year. Chinese box office receipts, which often don’t get included in retail sales figures, will grow 35 percent this year, to more than $4 billion, according to an estimate by my firm, China Market Research Group.

Still, there’s no question the Chinese economy is feeling the impact of the European debt crisis and America’s sluggish recovery. As China’s rate of growth slows and companies face more competition, brand managers need to rid themselves of common myths about Chinese consumption.

 

Myth No. 1: Chinese Consumers Do Not Spend on Their Homes

Tom Doctoroff, chief executive officer of J. Walter Thompson Shanghai, argues that Chinese consumers are not willing to spend more than the minimum on items inside their homes. Concerned with the projection of outward status, Doctoroff believes Chinese won’t spring for foreign appliance brands if they can’t show them off to others and will instead opt for cheaper, good-enough domestic brands such as Haier or Gree.

Doctoroff’s conclusions, however, don’t match the results of 500 interviews China Market Research Group conducted with people whose net worths are over $500,000. We found that 90 percent of well-off respondents preferred big-ticket item household appliances from foreign brands such as Samsung and Siemens (SI). In fact, most of them bought only foreign-brand appliances, explaining they felt the non-Chinese names had better functions and underlying technology.

What’s more, as we broke down home spending room by room, one of the key areas female consumers focused on—and where spending was growing fastest—was the bedroom. They particularly were interested in high-quality sheets and mattresses. These are items that have nothing to do with showing off to friends, most of whom would likely never see the inside of their bedrooms. These purchases are all about consumers pampering themselves. One 28-year-old Shanghai woman told me why she spends so much on linens: “I work hard and want to feel like a princess at home.”

While it is true that “showing you’ve arrived” is often an important driver in spending patterns, companies should not be so fixated on this concept that they ignore an important shift that is going on: Consumers are increasingly willing to spend extra to indulge themselves.

 

Myth No. 2: Chinese Consumers Are Obsessed With Bling  

Of course, Chinese consumers often do want to project status. The ultrarich, however, are getting more subtle and less flashy at the upper end of the consumption scale. In interviews with three dozen ultrawealthy Chinese worth more than $10 million, the majority said they no longer want Louis Vuitton items because they are “too common” and “too flashy.” Truly wealthy Chinese are tired of logo-filled “bling” and are veering toward less immediately identifiable brands, such as Bottega Veneta, whose subtle design cues (woven leather, not checkered logos) send signals not to the whole wide world but to a smaller, select group of people who are in the know.

 

Myth No. 3: Chinese Consumers Do Not Value Experiences

Many marketers claim that the Chinese prefer accumulating possessions to having special experiences. This situation is changing fast. Wealthy Chinese are hungry for new things to do and are seeking out lifestyles built around those experiences. As one multimillionaire told us: “After a certain point people run out of things to do—you can only do so many banquets, golf outings, and shopping trips to Europe before you want something more.”

For many this includes adventure—flying your own plane, fly-fishing in remote corners of the world, deluxe safaris. The outdoors is a big focus of activities, as evidenced by the popularity of such brands as North Face, Columbia, and Jeep. Clubs that revolve around certain activities are taking off. The Harley-Davidson Bikers Club, otherwise known as H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group), currently has six chapters across China. As H.O.G.’s website very rightly states, “Harley-Davidson sells a lifestyle instead of motorcycles.” Here again, the point is not quite about flaunting status but about the beauty of the ride and the feeling of freedom it offers. And with large-engine motorcycles banned within most city limits in China, most Harley owners don’t ever really get to show off their chopper to people around town. What they do get to do is ride free in the country and enjoy the camaraderie of other owners. The Chinese have also learned to embrace vacations abroad and become connoisseurs of the “lifestyle experience,” whether this is in fine wine or hard-core motorcycle trips. Retail sales may be below the high levels of recent years, but spending is still going strong.

LINK: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-06-27/three-myths-about-chinese-consumers