Chinese consumers value brand reputation, engaging experiences and natural materials, says study
Asia’s importance as a market for lifestyle, fashion and cosmetics brands has been firmly established for some time, and with consumer confidence in the region having made a relatively rapid recovery following the turmoil caused by Covid-19, the continent is more attractive than ever. However, as many Western businesses have discovered to their detriment, consumer behavior in the region can vary greatly from market to market. Which is where Bluebell Group’s latest “Asia Lifestyle Consumer Profile” report comes in, tracking some of the most important consumer trends in the region, including revelations about key markets such as China.
According to the report, Mainland China is the Asian market where consumers currently feel the most positive about the future, with an impressive 97% of those surveyed by Bluebell expressing this opinion. South Korea comes in second place in the consumer positivity ranking, with 85%, while Hong Kong and Taiwan tie for third with 77%. Slipping in just behind them is Southeast Asia (Singapore and Malaysia), where 76% of consumers said that they felt positive about the future, while Japan trails behind with 51%.
Bluebell attributes the overwhelming positivity of Mainland Chinese consumer sentiment to the fact that the market experienced a relatively short Covid-19-related lockdown, and that public approval of pandemic restrictions has generally been high.
Another point on which Mainland Chinese consumers are in almost complete consensus is the importance of brand reputation when purchasing products: 95% of the market’s consumers said that brand reputation is a key consideration for them when considering which products to buy. This figure was 91% in Taiwan, 88% in Hong Kong, 85% in South Korea and 75% in Japan. Out of the six markets covered by Bluebell’s study, Southeast Asia is the one in which brand reputation appears to matter least, with a still significant 71% of consumers saying that it is a key consideration for them.
One of the most important developments in the lifestyle industry in recent years has been the push to create unique experiences for customers, and consumers in Mainland China also appear to be very much in favor of this trend. 94% of those surveyed by Bluebell said that they would be inclined to choose a premium or lifestyle brand based on the fact that it offers them experiences, whether through events, technology, entertainment or even gaming elements.
Taiwan and Hong Kong are similarly positive about the trend, with 90% and 83% of consumers in these markets agreeing that they could be influenced in this way, followed by 80% in South Korea and 77% in Southeast Asia. Once again, Japanese consumers proved to be more reserved on the matter, with only 47% of them saying that they would be persuaded to choose a brand based on this sort of experience.
Consumers in Mainland China are also at the top of the charts when it comes to selecting natural brands. 95% of them said that they prefer to purchase products from companies that use natural ingredients or materials, a statement that 89% of Taiwanese consumers and 85% of consumers in Hong Kong also agreed with. Elsewhere, 78% of consumers in both Southeast Asia and South Korea said they favored natural brands, while in Japan the figure was 69%.
Interestingly, although consumers more or less consistently value natural products across the region, sustainability does not yet seem to be a major concern. Indeed, in all markets except Japan, more than 70% of consumers said that sustainability would not be in their top three decision-making factors when purchasing premium brands. In Japan the figure was 58%.
Another major trend that does not yet appear to have quite found its footing in Asia is second-hand fashion. Only 57% of consumers in Mainland China, for example, said that they would be open to buying second-hand apparel and accessories. The market with the most interest in pre-owned fashion is South Korea, where 70% of consumers said they were open to the idea, while Japan came in at the opposite end of the spectrum, with just 48% of consumers saying they would consider shopping apparel and accessories second hand.
Founded in 1954, Bluebell currently runs a distribution network including some 650 points of sale across Asia. The company’s “Asia Lifestyle Consumer Profile” report was based on a survey of 2,100 premium lifestyle consumers across six key markets in the region.
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