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China trends to watch in the Year of the Pig

Commentary

As China ushers in the Year of The Pig, Jessica Miao takes a look at the key consumer trends and behaviours that marketers need to consider in 2019.

1. Quality vs Quantity
As the talk of China’s economic slowdown continues, Chinese consumers are shifting their focus from quantity to quality purchases. This year’s Spring festival reinforced this shift as consumers looked to invest in quality items such as health products and fashion items. While the typical items remain hugely popular, such as jewelry, clothing, smart-home appliances and digital products, these have been joined by quality investment items such as organic food as well as gold and silver. The luxury market remains popular in China, having recovered from a slump a few years ago, and consumers are again spending big to buy high status quality items. The concept of green and low-carbon consumption is a growing trend for Chinese consumers and fits within an overarching trend towards quality-oriented, individualised and customised consumption.

2. No slow down for social media
In a landscape where WeChat alone boasts more than 1 billion monthly active users, engaging consumers on social media seems like a no-brainer. Micro-videos and live streaming remain huge trends in China and Douyin continues to be one of the most popular Chinese short video apps. With Chinese consumers hungry for content, there are more opportunities than ever for brands to create connections with consumers through relevant, engaging and entertaining content. China’s legions of KOLs continue to flourish and their influence and power continues to rise. With big data providing greater insights into consumer behaviours, social media is proving even more valuable for brands as it presents more and more opportunities to build brands and engage with customers.

3. New retail flourishes
In the new retail era, consumers are breaking through the geographical boundaries and driving a resurgence in the in-store experience. New retail continues to blur the lines between online and offline shopping providing online consumers with the realistic and tactile elements of offline shopping, while giving in-store shoppers the convenience of online inventories and instant payment methods. The rise and integration of AI and smart technology, the maturation of big data and the ability to personalise and customize experiences will only enhance retail experiences. With the flow-on effect of reducing costs, increasing efficiencies and improving the experience. As the market slows and consumers become more discerning with how they spend their money, the new retail experience will be integral in getting customers to part with their cash.

4. Outbound travellers remain lucrative
With China’s outbound travellers reaching 140 million in 2018, the opportunity to target this audience of big spending consumers has never been more enticing. Nearly 7 million Chinese travellers were predicted to travel abroad during the Lunar New Year period, of a forecast 400 million domestic travellers. China’s outbound tourists tend to be younger, with young office workers accounting for a large proportion spending the holidays abroad. Families also account for a huge proportion of the tourists, with young couples travelling with children, and in many cases also their parents. Despite the rise in independent travel in recent years, group travel remains popular with a large proportion of travellers. China continues to be the world's biggest spender on outbound travel – a title it has held for six consecutive years – and has contributed about one-sixth of added-value to the world's travel industry and more than 10% of international tourist growth globally.

The opportunities for marketers looking to engage with Chinese outbound travellers are many and varied and this will continue to be a significant trend in 2019.

Jessica Miao is Chief Executive Officer at UMS. For more information click here: www.umssocial.com

This article was published in Exporter Today.