China’s young consumers are snubbing foreign brands amid growing national pride, says Credit Suisse

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China is seeing the emergence of a generation of consumers who are more likely to opt for home-made brands, spurred by a growing sense of national pride, according to a survey by Credit Suisse.

The old adage that foreign brands are superior no longer holds true for young Chinese shoppers, who are increasingly showing a “domestic brand bias” amid “a degree of nationalism” in the world’s biggest consumer market, the study found.

More than 90 per cent of Chinese consumers in the 18 to 29 age bracket said they would prefer to buy domestic home appliance brands in the next six to 12 months, Credit Suisse’s eighth annual emerging consumer survey found.

Right now, Chinese consumers think China is good and ‘Made in China’ is not bad at all
Charlie Chen, Credit Suisse

And the percentage of those aged 18 to 65 who said they would be willing to pay more for domestic sportswear brands than for international ones has increased to 19 per cent last year from 15 per cent in 2010.

The results of the study also suggest the mainland’s young consumers are becoming more assured in their choices, splashing out more money on leisure, travel and goods that enhance their lifestyle. 

“We are surprised to see the rising of a more confident generation of consumers in China,” said Charlie Chen, head of China consumer research at Credit Suisse.

“Chinese consumers, especially the younger generation, don’t just believe the notion that foreign brands are better. Right now, Chinese consumers think China is good and ‘Made in China’ is not bad at all.”

Chen believes the trend is partly attributable to a push by the authorities to encourage residents to feel more attached to the Chinese culture, including the opening of more Confucianism institutes, while another factor is likely to be the growing influence of Chinese companies on the global stage.

“Like it or not, China is becoming a major power globally, which makes the younger generation feel more proud to be Chinese,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday when the report was released.

China has seen the emergence of a number of national corporate champions over the past three decades, such as home appliance maker Haier, e-commerce giant Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post,  and internet behemoth Tencent, all gaining global market share and expanding their operations and influence both at home and overseas.

This trend has extended to the consumer sector. Shares of Chinese sportswear giants Anta Sports Products and Li-Ning Co, for example, both saw their share prices soar in 2017 thanks to investors’ optimism about their prospects. Their stock prices rose 49.3 per cent and 40 per cent respectively, outpacing the 35 per cent increase of the broader Hang Seng Index during 2017.

Credit Suisse’s study was based on 14,000 face-to-face interviews with consumers in emerging economies including China, India, Mexico, Russia and Brazil.

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