At midnight on January 23, 2012, 1.3 billion people in China and millions of ethnic Chinese around the world welcomed the Year of the Dragon. Only a week later London honoured the Chinese New Year with festivities in Chinatown and Trafalgar Square. I took the opportunity to venture into Central London and watched with fascination the dance of colourful dragons and other mystic creatures before joining the crowd in buzzing Chinatown.
The enormous crowd of people who gathered in and around Chinatown prompted me to reflect upon China’s current position on the world map – how has it changed and how is likely to evolve? It is clear that we are seeing a new world order where power increasingly resides with China – but how are consumers responding and what does it mean?
Let’s start by looking at some key facts. The global recession has impacted developed markets more than developing markets, and thereby contributed to the re-distribution of the economic power. China now has the world’s fastest-growing economy; it is one of the world’s top exporters and is attracting record amounts of foreign investment. Chinese shoppers already have enormous buying power and like everything to do with the Chinese economy, this looks set to grow. It is expected that China will represent 38% of the rising global middle class in 2030.
But what else is at the source of China’s success story, which can only be partly explained by changing fortunes in the global economy? Based on our ValueScope research, I believe that the ‘Achiever’ mindset – which defines many Chinese people – is also an enabler of China’s economic success.
Our research reveals that 41% of consumers in China are ‘Achievers’ (vs. global average of only 25%) and this number has grown strongly for the past two years. These consumers are continuously pushing forward to reach new levels of prosperity. They identify with values such as wealth, status, power, ambition and self-interest. Achievers focus on wealth as a way to show they have succeeded and they work hard to buy things that express their achievement. Indeed, affluent consumers in China tend to see having “nice things” such as trusted high-end brands as a statement of success. Luxury items such as premium fashion brands are therefore extremely popular – Chinese customers already represent 30% of Burberry sales in Britain!
This ‘Achiever’ mentality has therefore shaped a hard-working mentality and a relentless hunger for social status which has allowed the Chinese economy to take off and expand during favourable global economic times.
The world map is evolving and the power increasingly resides with China and less with other parts of the world. We currently live in a time of change, of mutual exchange and we are constantly testing new waters. The world is increasingly interconnected, the borders are increasingly blurred and we are increasingly exposed to each other’s cultures, rituals and beliefs. This is a great time to be curious about China and its desires. For more details on how to target Achievers in China and elsewhere, contact us.