China Underground > China Finance > Research Shows How Chinese Consumer Behavior Changed as a Result of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Outbreak

Research Shows How Chinese Consumer Behavior Changed as a Result of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Outbreak

Single consumers over 20 adopt Cloud-based lifestyles while consumers over 30 demand high-quality indoor parent-child entertainment.

Westwind, a technology-driven digital marketing company that focuses on cross-border business, has researched consumer behavior changes in first- and second-tier cities in China through interviews with different age groups. The research shows the changing of preferences of consumers, purchasing channels and how information is obtained as a result of the outbreak and containment measures.

Single consumers over 20: Cloud-based lifestyles 

“Cloud” products have become a significant consumption trend for interviewees who are single and over 20 years old. About 80% of the interviewees favored “cloud” gatherings, fitness sessions, and virtual museum visits, reflecting their need for companionship.

Covid-19 may influence many industries. Much like the SARS outbreak sped up the development of e-commerce in 2003, the coronavirus may lead to the emergence of a new, online business model.

During the outbreak, the main consumption items of the same group were food, drinks, and daily necessities, purchased mostly online with channels providing same-day delivery. 60% of young people are not willing to cook for themselves, their most favored items included bread, instant noodles, and frozen food.

Before the outbreak, over 70% of female interviewees of the group spent the most on clothing and makeup through overseas luxury discount websites or overseas purchasing agents. However, the epidemic has made them realize that they would need to save money and reduce unnecessary consumption expenditures.

Consumers over 30: New business opportunities for post-epidemic tourism and indoor parent-child entertainment

Most interviewees in the over 30 group are planning to travel when the epidemic comes to an end. Westwin predicts that there will be a wave of post-epidemic consumption as a result of suppressed demand for tourism, according to You Yi, Marketing Manager at Westwin.

It is estimated that the loss from direct tourism during the Spring Festival this year amounted to 500 billion RMB and that the tourism industry will suffer a loss of 1.6 to 1.8 trillion RMB in 2020. Chinese tourists are likely to choose destinations that seem safe and may avoid destinations like Japan, South Korea, Italy, and Australia, due to concerns of further outbreaks or natural disasters, said You.

Growing demand for quality parent-child interaction will also lead to new business opportunities. The epidemic has given parents more time to spend with children, and many found that there were few games suitable for indoor parent-child interaction.

The consumption of pet products has also changed. Many interviewees said that they were anxious about whether their pets would get infected. Many purchased pet masks, fur disinfection products, and dog shoes. They also walked their dogs when it was less crowded outside to avoid contact and sanitized their pets’ shoes afterward. The domestic pet population in China is the highest in the world, and the Covid-19 outbreak has had a marked effect on the expansion of the pet economy.

During the outbreak, most interviewees said that their demand for information could be divvied into two types, apps like Baidu, Weibo and Toutiao for news and WeChat official accounts of high-quality media, such as Life Week, The Paper and Caixin for in-depth articles.

Over 60: New users of fresh food e-commerce services

Due to community lockdowns, many interviewees of the over 60 group were forced to go online to order fresh produce. Many have found online platforms reliable and said they would keep shopping online even after the epidemic, despite the increased cost.

During the epidemic, over 80% of the interviewees of the over 60 group obtained information from the state media, such as CCTV, CNR, and People’s Daily.

Westwin predicts that the epidemic will prompt more consumers to shift from offline to online consumption, and boost e-commerce penetration among seniors and consumers in fourth- and fifth-tier cities. At present, cross-border e-commerce is affected mainly by disruptions to supply chains and international shipping routes. However, as the outbreak of eases and normal business operations resume, there will likely be a spike in consumption.

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