The Covid effect on the Chinese consumer

I and many others have written about how the pandemic has forced Chinese consumers to spend at home with brands that they have learned about and become followers of over the past few years. But Covid has also had another affect, that of speeding up the culture of greater individuality among consumers, particularly the younger ones.

This move to being more individualistic is not new, it started some years ago. But limitations in terms of travel, more time to research the market and greater periods of personal isolation have enhanced the self-confidence and self-awareness to a point of no return. The younger generations have been less influenced by their elders and the past, preferring to seek out products they feel suit their personalities, rather than following the herd.

While exploring their options, they have discovered affordable luxury items, particularly those that are less self-promotional, preferring handbags without major logo’s, and more discrete accessories. The lack of international travel has put local Chinese brands in the spotlight as a result of a stronger sense of nationalism driven at some level by a pride that China unlike many other countries has managed the pandemic well and kept its citizens safe.

This nationalistic drive has seen international brands start to create specific localised products just for China, and it has and will continue to be a requirement in the coming years that all those entering The Middle Kingdom must adhere to if they are to be accepted and successful. A nod to Chinese culture or history will be seen as acknowledgement and acceptance of the power of the Chinese consumer.

With consumers cut off from the outside world to a greater extent, international brands need to keep their finger on the pulse of the Chinese consumer as their attitudes change due to the internal market, rather than being influenced by the wider worlds attitudes or feelings. The opportunity still exists for affordable luxury brands to enter China, but their approach must be sympathetic and aligned with the Covid consumer mindset; individual but with a twist of Chinese influence or style.