What makes Chinese consumers tick?

25 NOVEMBER 2013

Understanding why Chinese consumers purchase Western goods is vital for Australian businesses looking to expand their exports to one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, according CSU Professor of Marketing Steve D’Alessandro.

Professor Steve D'AlessandroUnderstanding why Chinese consumers purchase Western goods is vital for Australian businesses looking to expand their exports to one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, according Charles Sturt University (CSU) Professor of Marketing Steve D’Alessandro.
 
He said culture is an important factor influencing decisions when Chinese buyers select their purchases.
 
“Culture influences many decisions made by individuals worldwide. We have considered how three features of traditional Chinese culture – maintaining ‘face’, harmony and connections with others in their immediate group of friends, relatives and business connections, also  called guanxi – influence the purchase of luxury Western goods by Chinese buyers,” said Professor D’ Alessandro, who is based at CSU in Bathurst with the Faculty of Business.
 
Professor D’ Alessandro was part of a research team from Australia and China that also studied the influence of two recent political ideologies still prevailing in Chinese society: Maoist communism and Deng’s theory of pragmatism.
 
“Both ideologies have profoundly affected the national Chinese psyche, but they appear to have differing perspectives on materialism and the pursuit of consumer goods,” he said.
 
The research team surveyed 425 people from the emerging middle class in the major city of Shanghai, whose residents have a much higher disposable average income than elsewhere in China and who historically have a strong appetite for Western goods, culture and lifestyle.
 
“The most important drivers for purchasing decisions were being seen to be successful by the possessions you had and acquiring possessions as a central goal for life, while acquiring possessions for happiness was not as important,” Professor D’ Alessandro said.
 
“Interestingly, we found that parts of Chinese society still hold dear political beliefs like Maoism and traditional cultural values like harmony. These work against materialism and hence luxury good consumption in the survey region.”
 
The team will soon publish more results from their research in China.

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