How does the Chinese consumer think? What is important to the average Chinese consumer as regards food? Important questions for anyone who wants to sell products on this enormous market. Statista collected data on the Chinese and their preferences. For example, Chinese people think it is important to eat with friends and family, and the food has many requirements.

With over 1.3 billion inhabitants, China is a challenging market with a large number of potential consumers. Although the economic growth appears to be flattening out a bit, it is undeniable that GNP increased significantly in recent years. While the economy grew by more than ten per cent in 2010, this percentage did not exceed seven per cent in 2015. However, GNP almost doubled during these years. In 2012, GNP was at 6,005 billion dollar, five years later is was 10,982 billion dollar.



Expensive groceries
In 2004, almost 42 per cent of the Chinese population lived in the city. Ten years later, that number had increased to nearly 55 per cent. Statista’s database gives an insight into the market situation and the figures give an image of consumers’ requirements when going to the supermarket.

Since 1990, the income of an average household in Chinese cities has increased from 1,500 yuan in 1990 to almost 30,000 yuan in 2014. Chinese living in the east of the country have an income higher on average compared to other regions. Retail-wise, hypermarkets saw the largest increase. Between 2000 and 2010, that market grew by almost 40 per cent per year. After the first decade of this century, that increase levelled out at an average of 15 per cent per year. Other large growers during the first ten years of the millennium are supermarkets with 22.3 per cent and convenience stores with 23.3 per cent.

Demanding consumers
Chinese consumers are generally demanding, and set much store by good food. Research shows that 70 per cent of Chinese think food is an important part of social life. That same research shows Chinese people also regularly cook for friends and family. About 36 per cent of Chinese consumers do this daily. Another 41 per cent do this two to three times per week.

Just over half of interviewees (52.9 per cent) says they go to supermarkets two to three times per week for groceries, while 37.7 per cent only go once per week. A small minority of three per cent do their shopping more than four times per week. 

At least 84 per cent of the participants in the research indicated that country of origin and quality are very important. Another 12 per cent think these points are fairly important. A similar image can be seen in the answers when asked about the main motives for purchasing. Whether or not it is a seasonal product is important to 65 per cent of Chinese consumers. Local products also do well, with 55 per cent of Chinese thinking this is an important point. However, local products did score lower than price and whether the product was discounted, which was important to 61 per cent of interviewees. Products being necessary for certain recipes is in third place with 59 per cent. 

Organic and other labels
Chinese consumers often buy organic products as well. Of the people interviewed, 55 per cent says they buy organic products very regularly. Only three per cent of people interviewed said they never buy organic produce.

Besides a clear interest in organic products, import products also do well, and Chinese consumers are attracted to labels. Private or national, both labels are preferred by about 46 per cent of Chinese consumers. However, if a choice has to be made between an imported and a local label, preference is almost always for the imported one (55%). Only about eight per cent chooses local labels. The remaining 38 per cent has no preference.