Strong Opportunities for International Tech Manufacturers Among Chinese Consumers
63% of Chinese consumers prefer international brands for purchase of smartphones, televisions or wearable devices
Although eight in ten Chinese now own smartphones, televisions or wearable devices from domestic manufacturers, almost two-thirds (63 percent) say they prefer international brands for this technology, according to new research from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The study, Chinese Consumers: Technology Brand Sentiment and Path to Purchase, also shows significant sales opportunities for international tech companies, as roughly two-thirds of Chinese consumers say they would consider buying brands from the United States (67 percent), Europe (66 percent) and South Korea (62 percent) rather than brands from China (41 percent).
International versus Domestic Technology Brands
The CEA research shows price largely drives brand preference, with international technology brands highly preferred as household incomes rise. A large majority of Chinese making RMB 20,000 (approx. 3,200 USD) or more per month (76 percent) or between RMB 20,000-10,000 (approx. 1,600 USD) per month (68 percent) prefer international brands. By comparison, 50 percent of Chinese consumers making RMB 10,000 or less per month prefer international tech brands over domestic manufacturers.
A key demographic for international tech brands is Chinese in their 30s. According to the CEA study, two-thirds (66 percent) of these consumers are more likely to purchase international tech brands than domestic brands (34 percent). Members of this group are also more likely to identify themselves as "early adopters" (63 percent) and see buying international brands as a means of differentiating themselves from other consumers (54 percent).
"Chinese in their 30s are in a 'sweet spot' for technology brands," said Steve Koenig, senior director, market research, CEA. "These consumers are young enough to feel comfortable with technology and old enough to afford it. They're buying more technology and perceive international brands as a status symbol. Chinese in this demographic want others to view them as cool and popular, which means they're more likely to buy the latest and most innovative international products."
While some domestic brand buyers see their purchases as patriotic, consumers are equally split as to how their purchase decisions affect the local economy. Six in ten like to buy domestic brands to support the Chinese economy (59 percent) and/or agree buying international brands doesn't hurt the Chinese economy (58 percent), because many tech brands are manufactured in China.
How Chinese Shop for Tech
While the study shows online shopping excels for researching specific product features, two-thirds of Chinese (65 percent) enjoy seeing and physically trying tech products before buying them. In particular, Chinese women (70 percent) appreciate experiencing technology in a retail store before making a purchase. However, almost six in ten (57 percent) of Chinese consumers in their 30s enjoy shopping online as a means of avoiding crowded stores.
Chinese consumers also approach purchase decisions differently than Americans. While American consumers tend to focus first on the price of consumer techonology, Chinese consumers prioitize the functionality and user-experience of technology products before evaluating brand and price options.
"International tech brands seeking to compete in China should promote their innovation and advanced features to attract consumers," said Koenig. "Product placement in stores, tiered pricing and designing products specifically for Chinese consumers are worthwhile strategies to compete effectively in this market."
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