McKinsey & Company has long been in the forefront when it comes to China consumer surveys and I have been reading them since for as long as I can remember.  If you are selling consumer products to China (or in China) or even just thinking about doing so, you should be reading McKinsey’s consumer reports. McKinsey just came out with its “2012 Annual Chinese Consumer Report From Mass to Mainstream: Keeping Pace With China’s Rapidly Changing Consumers” [link no longer exists] and I recommend it.

Much of the report focuses on how a growing number of China’s consumers are evidencing “spending patterns typical of more affluent nations.”  According to McKinsey, China consumers with annual incomes greater than $16,000 are “becoming more self-indulgent in purchasing activity, more individualistic in wants and needs, and more loyal to favorite brands – even while maintaining some of the traits for which Chinese consumers are renowned, such as spending lots of time in stores comparing products.”  On the other hand, “still by far a majority of the urban population are those exhibiting spending behaviors that have long been characteristic of Chinese consumers — that is, they are basic value seekers; they tend to take their purchasing cues from others; and although brand-conscious they lack sufficient sophistication about brands to become loyal to particular ones.”

The survey also revealed the following:

  • ƒƒThough Chinese consumers are a bit less optimistic about their futures in 2012 than they were last year, they “remain extraordinarily positive regarding their prospects for enhancing their incomes.”
  • ƒƒSaving among Chinese is still very high, but “rising needs and changing lifestyles are translating into higher spending in a variety of categories. For example, as the Chinese get busier, they are buying more ready-to-eat food to save time.”
  • The younger and more affluent the Chinese consumer, the more likely they are to favor foreign brands.

What are you seeing out there?