Matthew Miller
Oct 23, 2014

China 'megatrends' for 2015 include smart tech, pollution protection

CHINA - Consumers in China will avidly adopt wearables and other "smart" technologies, will be drawn to products that claim to protect them from pollution effects and will continue to drive brands to transform the retail experience, according to Mintel's Consumer Trends 2015 report.

China 'megatrends' for 2015 include smart tech, pollution protection

Mintel based the report on consumer surveys in first- and second-tier cities, analysis of a database that captures descriptions and benefit claims for new FMCG products, and the input of its global and in-country analysts. Please see "Functional foods and 'naturalness': Mintel spotlights 2015 trends" for the company's predictions about Southeast Asia. 

The report outlines four "megatrends" for China, chosen because they are likely to have impact across industry sectors, not just in FMCG but also in technology, finance and banking, and others, Ailsa Gu, Mintel's North Asia insights manager, told Campaign Asia-Pacific.

1. Getting smart

Trend:

  • Synced devices, wearable technology and smart home appliances will become mainstream.

Data points:

  • Thirteen per cent of Chinese adults aged 20-49 say that they have a wearable digital product in their household.
  • The number rises to 29 per cent in the highest personal income brackets.
  • Almost half (45 per cent) of Chinese consumers say they own six or fewer consumer technology products, so multifunctional products and integration with ubiquitous smartphones will be key.
  • Gu also noted surprisingly high interest in child-tracking products and services due to kidnapping concerns.

Notable quotes:

  • "The whole idea of integrating technology into everything will trickle down to change how consumers interact with everyday items like their nail polish or food packaging."
  • "Overall, we’ll come to expect more from our smart devices: wearables that analyse our mental well-being, smart food and drink containers that automatically re-order replacements and companies that analyse our data in order to customise services and costs."

2. Pollution protection

Trend:

  • Health threats from pollution are driving interest in products that claim protection or detoxification.

Data points:

  • 47 per cent of adults aged 20-49 express concerns about catching incurable diseases due to environmental pollution.
  • 38 per cent worry about respiratory diseases.
  • 56 per cent of consumers aged 20-49 worry about foodborne disease. 
  • In 2013 40 per cent of Chinese adults aged 20-49 spent more money on products that protect from environmental pollution than they had in the previous year.
  • At least a quarter of Chinese women aged 20-49 who use bodycare or handcare products said that anti-irritation, healing or soothing, and antibacterial claims are important.
  • Gu noted that this trend will support the smart-tech trend, as products that help monitor factors such as air quality attract attention.

Notable quotes:

  • "The cosmetics industry in particular has been awakening consumers to the immediate, visible, personal effects of pollution, with Avon even coining the term ‘urban dust’ to describe the ‘environmental aggressors’ that threaten our skin and general health."
  • "In response to food safety concerns, manufacturers should emphasise “pollution-free” ingredient sources in their marketing. Some brands can also enhance their quality by highlighting their original source."
  • "In advertising, we’ll see more initiatives like billboards that fight pollution as well as home, office and even shop frontages made from materials that absorb carbon, reflect heat or absorb light to emit it at night."

3. Real-world retail

Trend:

  • "Consumers’ increasing expectations for on-demand convenience are blurring the lines between digital and brick-and-mortar retail." [This comes as no surprise to anyone who has read our China Innovation Report. -Ed.]

Data points:

  • Nearly seven in 10 Chinese adults say it is necessary to visit brick-and-mortar stores before buying products online.
  • Yet 75 per cent of Chinese adults feel that online shopping will eventually take over brick-and-mortar stores.
  • 19 per cent of Chinese consumers aged 20-49 have purchased items online with click-and-connect delivery, where products bought online are then collected from a store, depot or locker box.
  • 85 per cent of Chinese adults would like to see more online services that help to facilitate daily lives, such as paying bills online or booking taxis via mobile apps.

Notable quotes:

  • "At the heart of this trend is that our on-demand, instant gratification culture is spreading. This will bring us more delivery apps and high-quality vending options across a variety of product categories."
  • "Consumers will want to see more customised, on-demand access to financial services, healthcare and more.... People will expect to have curated services and expertise just a few taps away."

4. Tapping in to speak out

Trend:

  • "Collective intelligence", gathered through online means, will become an important source of direction and innovation, Gu said.

Data point:

  • A KFC initiative that asked consumer to vote on an existing product versus a new one attracted 20 million votes.

Notable quotes:

  • "Not only does crowdsourced wisdom have the potential to generate new products and initiatives, it also helps position a brand as dynamic, forward-thinking and participatory."

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