June 06, 2022

Consumers in China Shift Focus from Instant Gratification to Longer-term Value, Accenture Research Finds

Consumers prioritise value, quality, and experiences; sustainability emerging as a focus

BEIJING; June 6, 2022 – New research from Accenture (NYSE: ACN) has uncovered shifts in the spending patterns and expectations of Chinese consumers as the country moves into a new stage of growth.

The comprehensive look at the world’s second largest consumer market is aimed at capturing key movements against the backdrop of the pandemic and accelerated digital transformation, and as consumers enter a new phase marked by increasing sophistication and prudence, a lean towards sustainability, and the pursuit of work-life balance.

Accenture Chinese Consumer Insights 2022 surveyed over 10,000 respondents aged between 18 and 65 across first- to fifth-tier Chinese cities, and an additional 6,000 respondents in third- to fifth-tier cities for a deep-dive into trends specific to those cities. Chinese cities are tiered based on a number of metrics, including GDP, population size and nature of administration.

“Consumer values and spending patterns have been impacted by long-term trends – economic transformation, demographic change and technological disruption – and the prolonged impacts of the pandemic. In this new era where consumers value quality over quantity, brands must evolve quickly to stay relevant and stay competitive,” says Eric Hor, a managing director of Accenture Strategy & Consulting in Greater China.

The research points to five key trends:

Me Economy: Although family continues to play a central role, e-commerce platforms have shifted decision-making power from the head of the family to individuals, sparking the rise of the “me” economy. Some 69% of respondents indicated that they were not swayed by others, but considered their own preferences when making a purchase.

Less is More: Chinese consumers are spending more prudently — over 90% say they are unwilling to live from paycheck to paycheck compared to 62% in 2017. In addition, more priority is placed on value and quality, and more thought also goes into each purchase, with six in 10 conducting in-depth research and comparing prices across shopping websites before buying.

Master of Time: Convenience is a growing priority for the Chinese consumer, with 62% willing to spend on services that free up time for leisure pursuits, compared to 55% in 2017.

Living with Tech: While consumers see value in the convenience of smart devices with 70% of them willing to share personal data for better services, they are concerned over excessive push communications. Almost three quarters of respondents are unsatisfied with the content delivered via push communications as the content is irrelevant or not matched to consumers’ needs.

Green Growth: Some 98% of Chinese respondents not only recognize the “value of environmental protection and sustainable development” but say it influences their choices. In addition, 83% expect organizations to support their desire for sustainable consumption, and to make such options available, convenient and affordable.

Some of these broad trends are echoed in lower-tier cities thanks to the ​​rapid economic growth and urbanization, infrastructural improvements, expanded logistics networks and the rise of e-commerce. They comparison shop and demand high-quality consumer experiences and services, both online and off, since 91% of consumers in such cities have purchased extracurricular education offerings and more than one-third consumers have tried online medical care products and services.

These are all clear indications that to remain relevant in a more mature Chinese market, businesses must:

“The rapidly changing markets across Chinese cities present both challenges and opportunities. Businesses need to rethink product and marketing strategies, elevate digital capabilities, uplift supply chains and enhance consumer experiences,” says Xun Zhang, a managing director of Accenture Strategy & Consulting in Greater China.

About the Research
Accenture set out to explore changes in the behaviour, habits and preferences of consumers in China as the market adjusts to the effects of a global pandemic and accelerated digital advances. To study overall consumption trends, we surveyed 10,140 consumers across 91 first- to fifth-tier cities nationwide. We surveyed another 6,000 consumers from third- to fifth-tier markets to uncover more patterns. Our research team also conducted interviews with different groups of people to understand their preferences and experiences.

About Accenture
Accenture is a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud and security. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries, we offer Strategy and Consulting, Technology and Operations services and Accenture Song — all powered by the world’s largest network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. Our 699,000 people deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity every day, serving clients in more than 120 countries. We embrace the power of change to create value and shared success for our clients, people, shareholders, partners and communities. Visit us at accenture.com.

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Minjie Zha