The far-reaching force of technology is transforming consumer behavior across the globe, including in China, where marketers are having a difficult time catching up with rapid changes in consumer behavior accelerated by technology.
As the world’s economic leader in the digital age, China boasts a whopping USD 600 billion e-commerce industry, or around 14% of the total value of the country’s retail and service businesses. At the same time, two thirds of Chinese are now going online via their mobile phones, making China a remarkable case for the rest of the world.
The Chinese market is unique in that its consumers are financially powerful and welcome anything that affords convenience, forcing brand owners to try harder in finding their niches and pushing their products into consumers’ daily life. Another distinct quality is that many successful companies like Tencent and Alibaba are opting for smart horizontal marketing, choosing to gather data on a wide range of aspects of consumers’ life as opposed to a vertical approach that seeks in-depth information.
Furthermore, thanks to their popularity and technological prowess, many homegrown brands have become competitors against world-class counterparts. With the ties that they have developed with the 1.3 billion domestic consumers, entering the market and winning them over is hardly a challenge for them.
Each Chinese brand can be said to have its own specific segment as its products or services can be tailored to suit individual needs. The success has led many companies to follow suit, such as Unilever, which has adopted a million-to-one strategy and put its products into the daily life of each individual customer – a big leap for such a world-class FMCG giant.
Sharing economy has also taken China by storm and is expected to account for 20% of China’s GDP by 2025. As the gap between millennials and senior citizens in China will only widen, marketers need to figure out what products and services will fit into the lifestyles of both demographics.
In addition, China’s shift from labor-based to digital economy means that artificial intelligence (AI) has become the foundation for future innovation. This could mean that working environments where humans are empowered by AI will become a common sight.
The rise of blockchain and new digital currencies has also galvanized e-commerce, particularly in China. These virtual currencies in mobile applications afford consumers greater convenience and will likely become a staple for which brands must make adjustments to accommodate.
This is only a macro-overview of the Chinese market in the digital era. Shifts in consumer behavior will definitely influence how brands around the world transform themselves, and they might as well look to China as they devise strategies that will take them to the global market.