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China’s emerging consumer class is more emotional than any other generation of shoppers, and marketers must shift standards to meet the needs of this more self-indulgent, individualistic, and brand-concious Chinese consumer class, according to consulting firm McKinsey.
“Marketers will have to move fast to cater to consumers with brands that ‘speak directly’ to their emotional wants,” said the report, which surveyed 10,000 people in 44 cities.
Previous generations of Chinese shoppers focused more on practicality and affordability than the new generation, who lack the stoicism and fortitude only learned through a good dose of Cultural Revolution-era patriotic education. Younger consumers are becoming more their awful, status-obsessed counterparts in the West: “41 percent of younger consumers in the new mainstream consumer class are more likely to say they “always pay premiums for the best products”, compared to 31 percent of older consumers.”
A new Chinese consumer will lead to a new Chinese product, as evidenced by Estée Lauder’s announcement of a brand developed just for China. The new brand, called Osiao, “caters to the tastes of consumers in Asia” such as by including “specialized formulas [that] contain Chinese plants like ginseng”. Chinese people go mad for ginseng.
The cosmetics executives also liked that the word Osiao contained five letters — a lucky number in China, they said.
Chinese people are often witnessed counting the number of letters in any given product’s name before purchasing, Chinese people are crazy about things which contain five letters.
An ever-increasing middle class will lead to more Westernized forms of consumption, as the “share of urban households able to afford cars and little luxury items will rise six-fold by 2020 to about 57 percent of the total”. Domestic consumption is vital to the CCP’s current five-year plan, as the country looks to reduce its reliance on exports and encourage citizens to spend rather than save. Greater domestic consumption and middle class wealth will also help China watchers living byline to byline, who will be able to recycle old articles about how a growing middle class will naturally lead to democracy and the end of the Communist party, either this year, or the next, or the next.