Here is a preview of some of the trends and their implications:
Pay for safety
Safety is a big concern for Chinese consumers. After repeated food safety scares, shoddy workmanship and fake products, consumers are willing to pay a premium for a sense of safety. As one Weibo tweet satirically put it: “If a Chinese is laid flat on the ground, he becomes a chemistry periodic table.” But safety is a serious problem that is leading more people to buy insurance and organic food.
It is therefore vital that brands gain and retain consumers’ trust by promoting their reputations for trustworthiness through social media platforms and word-of-mouth channels. They should also constantly monitor what is being said about them on the internet so they can move quickly to amplify a relevant discussion or come up with countermeasures when negative publicity arises.
For brands with e-commerce, online trust is even more important. Good reviews and recommendations can alleviate some distrust. Success for any e-commerce player in China involves tackling the various components along every step of the purchase pathway: product quality, internet safety, delivery efficiency, return policy and service warranty.
The prefix ‘micro’ is a consumption buzzword that goes with a lot of things. For marketers, it means more precise targeting of consumers in their advertising and promotional efforts. For consumers, it means shorter versions of movies, books and other narratives. Fine-tuned and micro approaches are becoming a craze. They will add convenience to consumers’ lives and create new sales opportunities for marketers, who can rely heavily on a strong mobile strategy to capture the immediacy of every micro-purchase.
As the proportion of single men and women in society increases, consumption opportunities customised for this audience have emerged since singles are not burdened with family responsibilities. They know how to live in the present, and are willing to open their wallets for immediate gratification.
WeChat and Momo mobile apps allow single people to better communicate with one other. Mobile is the most intimate of all screens as it is carried by consumers on a 24/7 basis. It is a convenient tool for 'Spectacular Singles' to lead a fulfilling life, and and can be deployed to facilitate discussion among friends through shai (show-and-tell).
Grey hair craze
According to the sixth national census, 13.26 per cent of Chinese are 60 years old and above, while 8.87 per cent are 65 and above. Seniors in China today no longer save every penny as the older generations did in the past. In fact, they have plans for the golden years of their lives, and are willing to spend more money on high-quality retirement.
As elderly consumers consume a myriad of products and services they did not know about before, gamification is a good way to help brands gain affinity since game-based learning and simulation lends fun and excitement to the process of brand education. Building game mechanics into a purchasing process to move consumers along is a suggestion in the report.
Super third party
A 'super third party' is part of an emerging go-between economy where an intermediary steps in and bridges the gap between what needs to be done and what cannot be accomplished by the consumer alone. Examples are carpooling websites such as www.pinker365.com and purchasing agents who buy products from overseas on behalf of consumers.
This MEC annual report is in its third year, with its methodology enhanced by working with social business intelligence provider CIC this year.