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Consumer Lifestyles: China's Middle Class - China - June 2012

“The overriding and dominant theme of the Chinese middle class is its almost manic desire to achieve status, to aspire to what it perceives to be a better life. To live in some comfort and space, to own consumer items ( be it a smartphone or luxury handbag) that is branded for success, to eat and drink at its leisure and to travel and see the world. To achieve this the Chinese middle class is willing to study and work hard, save to both prorect themselves, their families and lifestyles for the future and invest in their children's future to ensure their continung future success and status.”

– Matthew Crabbe, Research Director, Mintel Asia-Pacific


Some questions answered in this report include:

  • How has the Chinese middle class emerged?
  • What are their attitudes towards property ownership?
  • What level of education is typical?
  • How do the Chinese middle class use technology?
  • What are their spending habits?

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction

    • To understand China’s retail consumption boom is to meet China’s new middle class
      • Definition
        • Consumer research survey – definition
        • Executive Summary

            • A history of the middle class in china
              • Defining the middle class
                • How the middle class has emerged
                  • Figure 1: Region lived in during childhood, by city, April 2012
                • Attitudes towards property ownership
                  • Figure 2: Household composition, April 2012
                • Education is the core foundation
                  • The connected middle class – smartphones and smart shopping
                    • Figure 3: Brand of smartphone owned, by city, April 2012
                  • Middle class spending habits
                    • Figure 4: Purchase of luxury items abroad, April 2012
                • A History of the Middle Class in China

                  • Summary
                    • Definitions influenced by political influence
                      • Defining China’s middle class – the economics
                          • Figure 5: Defining the China middle class – household income parameters, 2003-12, per annum income required to be middle class in Tier 1 China
                        • Defining China’s middle class – the caveats
                        • How Much has China’s Middle Class Grown?

                          • Summary
                            • Only a small proportion of households are middle class
                                • Figure 6: China’s shrinking demographics, 2000-12
                              • Why has the middle class grown so quickly?
                                • Urbanisation
                                  • Wage growth
                                    • Subsidies and taxation
                                      • Expansion of chain retailing
                                        • Figure 7: The continued growth of organised chain retailing in china, 2007-11
                                      • The edge-city middle class – to the ’burbs
                                        • Savings and credit
                                          • Greater ‘freedom’ of press drives consumerism
                                          • How the Middle Class Has Emerged

                                            • Summary
                                              • The rapid ascent from blue collar backgrounds
                                                • Emergence of women as ‘equals’ accentuates growth
                                                  • Figure 8: Father’s/mother’s working background, April 2012
                                                • The rural-urban migration
                                                    • Figure 9: Region lived in during childhood, by city, April 2012
                                                    • Figure 10: Region lived in during childhood, by age group, April 2012
                                                  • Financial prudence laid foundations for consumerism to flourish
                                                      • Figure 11: Living situation during childhood, April 2012
                                                      • Figure 12: Living situation during childhood, by city, April 2012
                                                  • Attitudes Towards Property Ownership

                                                    • Summary
                                                      • Property is highly desired by the middle classes
                                                          • Figure 13: Type of primary residence, April 2012
                                                          • Figure 14: Type of property ownership, by city, April 2012
                                                          • Figure 15: Number of bedrooms in property, April 2012
                                                        • Ageing population sets future challenge for middle classes
                                                            • Figure 16: Household composition, April 2012
                                                        • Education is the Core Foundation Of Middle Class Children

                                                          • Summary
                                                            • Education has the highest priority across all of China
                                                                • Figure 17: Type of children’s education, April 2012
                                                                • Figure 18: Financial impact of children’s education, April 2012
                                                                • Figure 19: Further education currently undertaken, by city, April 2012
                                                                • Figure 20: Type of further education currently undertaken, April 2012
                                                            • Finances – Saving for Rainy Days but Learning to Love Credit

                                                              • Summary
                                                                • Savings dominate financial behaviour
                                                                    • Figure 21: Monthly savings rate, April 2012
                                                                    • Figure 22: Monthly savings rate, by gender, April 2012
                                                                    • Figure 23: The propensity to save and pay down debt, April 2012
                                                                    • Figure 24: Credit card possession, by city, April 2012
                                                                • The Connected Middle Class – Smartphones and Smart Shopping

                                                                  • Summary
                                                                    • High repeat sales due to poor quality of goods
                                                                      • Figure 25: Monthly expenditure on appliances, April 2012
                                                                      • Figure 26: Technology ownership - household, April 2012
                                                                      • Figure 27: Technology ownership - personal, April 2012
                                                                      • Figure 28: Brand of smartphone owned, April 2012
                                                                      • Figure 29: Brand of smartphone owned, by city, April 2012
                                                                    • Use of technology drives online engagement
                                                                        • Figure 30: Online shopping, April 2012
                                                                    • Middle Class Spending Habits

                                                                      • Summary
                                                                        • Range and frequency of leisure activities undertaken is extensive
                                                                          • Figure 31: Leisure activities, April 2012
                                                                        • Car ownership indicative of aspiration levels
                                                                          • Figure 32: Monthly expenditure on cars, April 2012
                                                                          • Figure 33: Monthly expenditure on cars, by gender and age group, April 2012
                                                                          • Figure 34: Monthly expenditure on cars, by city, April 2012
                                                                        • Discretionary spending reflects value of this consumer group
                                                                          • Figure 35: Discretionary spending, April 2012
                                                                        • Luxury market in China is increasingly competitive
                                                                            • Figure 36: Luxury brand possession, April 2012
                                                                            • Figure 37: Luxury brand possession, by age and gender, April 2012
                                                                            • Figure 38: Luxury item buying intention, April 2012
                                                                          • Many luxury items are purchased outside of China
                                                                              • Figure 39: Purchase of luxury items abroad, April 2012
                                                                          • Expansion In Travel Changes Middle Class Perspective

                                                                            • Summary
                                                                              • International and domestic travel is rising rapidly
                                                                                  • Figure 40: Holidays taken in the last 12 months, April 2012
                                                                              • Some Issues Worth Thinking About…

                                                                                • The loss of the little guy – the growth of organised retailing
                                                                                  • Monoculture – China’s globalised middle class
                                                                                    • When it comes to the middle class bulge, is China the new Japan?
                                                                                      • Influencing the nation – the middle class as inspiration
                                                                                      • The Future of the Middle Class

                                                                                        • China’s middle class created by Shengshi…
                                                                                          • The future growth of the middle class will come from tier 2 and tier 3 cities
                                                                                          • Appendix – A History of the Middle Class in China

                                                                                              • Figure 41: Defining the middle class in China, 1999-2015
                                                                                              • Figure 42: Defining the middle class in China, 1999-2015 (continued)
                                                                                          • Appendix – Background and Current Living Situation

                                                                                              • Figure 43: Region lived in during childhood, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 44: Region lived in during childhood, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 45: Living situation during childhood, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 46: Living situation during childhood, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 47: Father's/Mother's working background, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 48: Most popular father's working background, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 49: Next most popular father's working background, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 50: Other father's working background, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 51: Most popular mother's working background, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 52: Next most popular mother's working background, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 53: Other mother's working background, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 54: Type of primary residence, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 55: Most popular type of primary residence, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 56: Number of bedrooms in property, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 57: Number of bedrooms in property, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 58: Type of property ownership, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 59: Type of property ownership, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 60: Household composition, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 61: Household composition, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 62: Type of children's education, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 63: Most popular type of children's education, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 64: Next most popular type of children's education, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 65: Financial impact of children's eductaion, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 66: Most popular financial impact of children's eductaion, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 67: Next most popular financial impact of children's eductaion, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 68: Further education currently undertaken, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 69: Further education currently undertaken, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 70: Type of further education currently undertaken, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 71: Type of further education currently undertaken, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 72: Monthly savings rate, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 73: Most popular monthly savings rate, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 74: Next most popular monthly savings rate, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 75: Credit card possession, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 76: Credit card possession, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                          • Appendix – Product Ownership – Technology

                                                                                              • Figure 77: Technology ownership – Household, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 78: Most popular technology ownership – Household, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 79: Next most popular technology ownership – Household, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 80: Other technology ownership – Household, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 81: Technology ownership – Personal, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 82: Technology ownership – Personal, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 83: Smartphone ownership, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 84: Smartphone ownership, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 85: Brand of smartphone owned, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 86: Most popular brand of smartphone owned, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 87: Next most popular brand of smartphone owned, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                          • Appendix – Spending habits

                                                                                              • Figure 88: Monthly expenditure, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 89: Monthly expenditure – Add to my savings, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 90: Monthly expenditure – reduce non-mortgage debts (credit card, personal loan, overdraft etc), by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 91: Monthly expenditure – book a holiday, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 92: Monthly expenditure – buy major domestic appliance (washing machine, fridge etc), by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 93: Monthly expenditure – buy new electrical equipment (television, PC, games console etc), by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 94: Monthly expenditure – buy/replace my car, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 95: Monthly expenditure – spend money on my home (new kitchen, redecorate, new furniture etc), by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 96: Monthly expenditure – dine out in a higher priced restaurant (ie no take away or fast food restaurants), by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 97: Monthly expenditure – go to a concert/sporting event/theatre, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 98: Monthly expenditure – buy new clothes, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 99: Discretionary spending, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 100: Most popular discretionary spending, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 101: Next most popular discretionary spending, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 102: Other discretionary spending, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 103: Least popular discretionary spending, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                          • Appendix – Shopping Habits – Luxury

                                                                                              • Figure 104: Online shopping, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 105: Most popular online shopping, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 106: Next most popular online shopping, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 107: Luxury brand possession, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 108: Most popular luxury brand possession, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 109: Next most popular luxury brand possession, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 110: Luxury item buying intention, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 111: Most popular luxury item buying intention, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 112: Next most popular luxury item buying intention, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 113: Purchase of luxury items abroad, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 114: Most popular purchase of luxury items abroad, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 115: Next most popular purchase of luxury items abroad, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                          • Appendix – Holiday Habits

                                                                                              • Figure 116: Holidays taken in the last 12 months, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 117: Most popular holidays taken in the last 12 months, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 118: Next most popular holidays taken in the last 12 months, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 119: Other holidays taken in the last 12 months, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 120: Least popular holidays taken in the last 12 months, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 121: Most popular independent holidays taken in the last 12 months, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 122: Next most popular independent holidays taken in the last 12 months, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 123: Other independent holidays taken in the last 12 months, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 124: Least popular independent holidays taken in the last 12 months, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 125: Most popular package holidays taken in the last 12 months, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 126: Next most popular package holidays taken in the last 12 months, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 127: Other package holidays taken in the last 12 months, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 128: Least popular package holidays taken in the last 12 months, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 129: Holiday spending, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 130: Most popular holiday spending, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 131: Next most popular holiday spending, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                          • Appendix – Attitudes and Behaviours – Leisure

                                                                                              • Figure 132: Leisure activities, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 133: Eat out at a restaurant, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 134: Visit bars/pubs, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 135: Go to the cinema, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 136: Go to a nightclub, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 137: Go to the theatre/musical/opera, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 138: Visit a cultural venue, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 139: Attend live sports events, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 140: Visit a zoo/wildlife park, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 141: Go to music concerts/festivals, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 142: Do DIY/home improvement, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 143: Tend your own garden/allotment/grow own fruit and vegetables, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 144: Play video games, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 145: Use a public leisure centre, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 146: Use a private health and fitness club, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 147: Do recreational exercises outside of health clubs/leisure centres, by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                          • Appendix – Attitudes towards Shopping

                                                                                              • Figure 148: Attitudes towards shopping (any agree), April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 149: Most popular attitudes towards shopping (any agree), by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 150: Next most popular attitudes towards shopping (any agree), by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 151: Other attitudes towards shopping (any agree), by demographics, April 2012
                                                                                              • Figure 152: Least popular attitudes towards shopping (any agree), by demographics, April 2012

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                                                                                          Consumer Lifestyles: China's Middle Class - China - June 2012

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