Modern Chinese Consumers

Modern Chinese Consumers


Chinese consumers are on everyone’s mind. Who are they? What do they want and need? How are they buying and how much are they spending? This indispensable guide is for anyone who wants to understand how people in China make their purchases and what leads them to make their purchasing decisions.


China’s millennials and young people from third tier cities are becoming China’s consumer powerhouses. However, there’s more to the country than people in their prime earning years and the obvious youth market.

Chinese consumers are on everyone’s mind. Who are they? What do they want and need? How are they buying and how much are they spending? This indispensable guide is for anyone who wants to understand how people in China make their purchases and what leads them to make their purchasing decisions.

Here’s an excerpt to give you a taste.

China is one of the most dynamic and appealing markets in the world. With more than 500 million active online shoppers, China attracts brands and companies from all over the world. Multifunctional social media platforms, mobile payment apps, mini programs, non-stop shopping festivals, thousands of influencers (KOLs) promoting brands on their live streaming channels and instantly changing trends can overwhelm even experienced marketers, not to mention newcomers.

Who should I target? How can I sell my product to them? These and many other questions occupy marketing departments around the world. In an attempt to stay on trend and increase brand awareness, many Western companies have already merged their e-commerce and social media efforts. But establishing a social media presence doesn’t guarantee success in China. How much do you know about recent trends in social media?

We’ve created this mini-book to help marketers better understand ten key consumer profiles in 2019. You’ll also find out about hot trends on Chinese social media in the summer and fall of 2019. We’ll dive into case studies and information that will empower you to take action and make wise decisions when it comes to your marketing budget.

Modern Chinese Consumers

Consumption in China is expected to grow to 6.1 trillion USD by 2021. Although estimates have been tempered by recent tariff and trade disagreements, China’s standard of living is still expected to keep increasing and the country still has large segments of the population that are underserved.

A large proportion of Chinese people live in smaller cities and rural areas. Reports indicate that over 50% of sales from the Luxury Pavilion in Alibaba’s Tmall are from customers who live outside Tier 1 and 2 cities. On top of this, by 2021, 70% of spending is expected to come from those in the 18-35 year age group, who are mostly China’s Millennials.

Understanding the mindset and preferences of Chinese consumers is crucial to success in the China market.

What are they really like?

While old ideas and stereotypes may persist, the truth is Chinese consumers, especially those in top tier cities, are the most sophisticated and spoiled in the world.

The China market is currently flooded with a wide variety of domestic and foreign brands offering a vast array of products. However, with increasing purchasing power, there’s still an eagerness for novelty and even more quality choices.

This is why most Chinese consumers, especially those in first and second tier cities, prioritize product quality. They expect high calibre personalized products and services that are reasonably priced. They’re also accustomed to quick turnarounds so they want them fast. Having said that, it’s not realistic to describe all Chinese consumers as a whole.

There are a variety of consumer types and markets within

China and to understand Chinese consumers more deeply, we need to divide them into different consumer groups. Each of them has their own characteristics and purchasing preferences. Let’s take a dive into today’s most significant consumer groups.

The 2018 book China’s Evolving Consumers: 8 Intimate Portraits, edited by Tom Nunlist, has a wealth of insights about modern Chinese consumers. This compilation has fascinating perspectives because in addition to research, some of the writers are insiders writing about their own experiences and those of their peers in a given demographic. We see this book as an important reference in this section along with our own observations and experience in the market.


“Ashley understands the ecosystems of WeChat, Chinese social media and social commerce, Chinese consumers and Chinese New Retail at a level, and with a depth and breadth of knowledge, that places her among the elite thinkers and doers in Chinese Digital Commerce.”
Michael Zakkour, Tompkins International

“Ashley doesn’t only create content that’s incredibly interesting and valuable, but also shares her inspiration and spreads knowledge of the fast-changing, growing economy that Westerners need to adapt to when expanding into China.”
Jia Song, China Enterprise Business Center


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China does in fact have a significant ageing population and has thus implemented the three-child policy in efforts to avoid the demographic time bomb.

Some of the Modern Chinese consumers include Generation Z, the New Middle Class, Maturing Millennials, Single Young People, Young Men, White-collar Women, Young and Urban Couples, Young Mothers, and Senior Citizens.

Some of the hot consumption trends include Guochao products, products related to idols, the ACG trend, IP and blind boxes, etc.

Chinese consumers tend to get concerned over product quality and safety. More Chinese consumers are also purchasing products that showcase their individuality and personality.

Most consumption comes from first and second tier cities and other urban areas with high per capita income. Consumers from second and third tier cities are more prone to online spending. Consumers in lower-tiered cities also tend to rely more on word of mouth.

The major consumption force in China right now is Gen Z. In 2020, there was around 260 million Gen Z in China; they are projected to make up 27% of the country’s total population by 2025.