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China’s retail sector transforms, Millennials are key drivers, finds KPMG and Mei.com survey

China’s retail sector transforms, Millennials are...

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Millennials are set to disrupt China’s retail sector as their spending increases. Retailers are transforming their businesses in response, with new strategies such as omnichannel platforms, finds a joint survey by KPMG China and online shopping platform Mei.com.

The fourth annual China’s Connected Consumers survey analyses responses from 3,004 consumers in the mainland to understand their current and future shopping habits. The survey finds that online shopping has effectively become a national pastime in China with 77 percent of respondents identifying it as their favourite leisure activity. This is reflected in the popularity of online shopping festivals such as Single’s Day and Double 12.

Almost nine in ten Millennials are shopping online more than once a week, and 80 percent expect the frequency to increase in the year ahead. With 31 percent of Millennials expecting a significant increase in income over the next five years, they are set to become a key component of China’s retail sector. 

The survey finds that businesses are adopting different strategies to deal an evolving retail landscape in mainland China. 

Jessie Qian, Partner and Head of Consumer and Retail (China), KPMG China, says: “The modern day retail industry is less about what companies can create, but more about what consumers want. We’re living in an increasingly customer-centric world and the strategic focus of businesses should be on how they are able to build customer engagement and product distribution based on the immediate demands of consumers.”

The rise of this experiential generation has prompted a surge in demand for luxury products as well as the affordable luxury segment. Seventy percent of Millennials plan to spend more on luxury goods and services in next year, of which high-end clothing, shoes, cosmetics and perfume are the most sought after. 

Qian adds: “It is increasingly difficult for a single brand to be able to fill multiple segments. As China’s retail market continues to develop, more consumer groups such as Millennials will gain prominence. It is imperative for companies to diversify and maximise their relevance to different groups of consumers.”  

Businesses are seen increasingly adopting a multi-brand strategy to seize market opportunities. They are also focusing on omnichannel strategy targeted to provide a richer consume experience through “personalised” shopping. 

Thibault Villet, Co-founder and Chairman of Mei.com, says: “Innovation in products and services as well as in the O2O customer experience is a new and key driver of retail in China. Data analytics, artificial intelligence and customer engagement offer new opportunities for product co-creation and, ultimately, customisation.” 

Businesses also need to ensure that they have all the major post-purchase feedback channels covered, as half of the Millennials and 44 percent of other respondents indicated online feedback as a key shopping influence.

Villet adds: “The constant connectivity to the internet creates plenty of opportunities for businesses to impact consumers’ attention and behaviours. Massive amounts of contextual data can also be used to personalise interactions with greater precision.”

Two-third of respondents indicate they post comments on an online store following a purchase, while 59 percent do so on WeChat or other social media platforms. This is an improvement over the 2016 findings, where only 51.6 percent of respondents would share their post-purchase feedback online.

Anson Bailey, Partner and Head of Consumer and Retail, Asia Pacific, KPMG China, concludes: “Good customer relationship management is key to succeeding in today’s consumer and retail market. Businesses now understand the importance of customer experience and are strengthening their use of data analytics to gain a deeper understanding of the shopping behaviours and preferences of consumers. Many are also collaborating with online platforms to gain an even wider pool of customer data.”

-Ends-

About the Survey

KPMG China and Mei.com commissioned Ipsos to conduct a survey of 3,004 mainland China consumers in September 2017.

The aim of the study was to understand the current and future shopping habits of mainland China consumers and analyse how companies can drive their business and marketing strategies accordingly. 

In addition, the survey focuses on the consumption behaviour of Millennials – those who were born after 1985 and are set to bring about the next chapter in China’s consumer and retail industry. Among the respondents, 67 percent were Millennials with an even split between those born between 1985-1989 and those born after 1990.

The survey analyses the differences between Millennials and other age groups in order to understand the unique characteristics of this consumer group.

About Mei.com

Since launching in the China market in 2010, Mei.com has established itself as China’s leading customer-oriented online shopping platform. A pioneer of style and inspiration, Mei.com presents highly curated products from all over the world and inspires the audience with exquisite and professional content, offering a seamless shopping experience across mobile and desktop. 

Mei.com works directly with more than 4,000 brand partners, with direct sourcing from brands and official distributors, which guarantees product authenticity, quality and best prices. The management, and buyers with strong luxury business experience, enable Mei.com to connect top luxury culture with fashion lovers and consumers pursuing higher quality lifestyle.

Specialising in luxury and driven by Alibaba’s big data technology, Mei.com has further developed into a one-stop holistic e-commerce solution by offering TP services. As the gateway to Tmall for luxury brands, we offer fundamental services such as store operations, UV planning and media buying, IT solutions and logistic/warehousing, to added-value ones such as merchandising planning, creative and 360-degree integrated marketing (built on the backbone of uni-markeitng of Alibaba), customised content output, omni-channel strategies and execution, to name just a few.

About KPMG China

KPMG China operates in 16 cities across China, with around 10,000 partners and staff in Beijing, Beijing Zhongguancun, Chengdu, Chongqing, Foshan, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Xiamen, Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR. With a single management structure across all these offices, KPMG China can deploy experienced professionals efficiently, wherever our client is located. 

KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 152 countries and regions, and have 189,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

In 1992, KPMG became the first international accounting network to be granted a joint venture licence in mainland China. KPMG China was also the first among the Big Four in mainland China to convert from a joint venture to a special general partnership, as of 1 August 2012. Additionally, the Hong Kong office can trace its origins to 1945. This early commitment to the China market, together with an unwavering focus on quality, has been the foundation for accumulated industry experience, and is reflected in the Chinese member firm’s appointment by some of China’s most prestigious companies. 

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