2023 Global Consumer Trends: spotlight on China market

January 1, 2023
4 min read

2022 was a year of complex conditions. With the market under pressure from the COVID-19, the economic slowdown, and the global situation, it was pervaded by anxiety, and consumers are becoming more sophisticated in their consumption concepts, lifestyles and planning for the long term. Looking ahead to 2023, the introduction of 20 New Rules in China is expected to be more scientific and precise in pandemic prevention and control, helping the economy to recover next year. In this piece, we focus on China’s local market, and take a deep dive into three of the Mintel’s Global Consumer Trends 2023 and how they could play out in China:

Me Mentality

At present, consumption returns to rational pragmatism. Consumers are beginning to look at their needs and prioritize them, like reducing pseudo-needs and paying for real ones. They are also more cautious about irrational and non-essential consumption.

In the next 1-2 years, after cutting unnecessary expenses, consumers will return to the value of the product itself. Consumers are also characterized by a focus on the added value of products. Brands need to emphasize the added value of their product to strengthen, such as functionality, experience, social attributes, or whether it can bring positive feelings and long-term returns or not.

Looking ahead to the next five years, consumers will focus more on the purposeful nature of consumption – the broader pursuit for the world they want, by buying specific products or supporting specific brands. Brands will need to echo the attributes of spiritual consumption and continue to contribute to consumer concerns such as equality, inclusion and sustainability to build lasting impact.

Hyper Fatigue

Consumers feel hyper fatigue coming on: 66% of Chinese consumers do or are trying hard not to pay attention to entertainment/social news that doesn’t concern them, 38% of Chinese consumers cite the social atmosphere of competition as one of their most troubling matters, and 52% of Chinese consumers say being close to nature helps relieve stress.

Today, in the face of burnout brought on by competition, urbanization and uncertainty, consumers want to consciously reserve their attention and energy, saving their best time for what matters most. Some consumers have begun to streamline their lifestyles. Offline experiences that combine a relaxed atmosphere and comfort (such as the popularity of outdoor activities and pour-over coffee) can also help consumers break away from burnout and are becoming a trend in the post-epidemic era.

In the next 1-2 years, consumers will gradually realize that the key to physical and mental health is to build a lifestyle with quality. They will try to build a comfortable and relaxed state of life within their physical and mental systems, and focus their attention on how to truly care for themselves. Brands can help them create a relatively good physical and mental environment, giving them the opportunity to nourish themselves from the inside out to get through the downturn.

In the long run, with the emergence of new technologies such as the Metaverse, NFT and digital identity, consumers are still most concerned with how those technologies can improve their lives. In addition to promoting technology development, brands also need to provide more practical and rich application solutions to show consumers what tangible benefits technology can bring, like increased productivity, higher quality content, and more cost-effective immersive experiences.

International Localism

Localization goes beyond its original meaning and encompasses three dimensions: supporting local consumption, giving back to the community, and localizing corporate social responsibility. According to Mintel’s research, the percentage of Chinese consumers who try to buy from local companies rose from 61% to 74% between March 2021 and September 2022.

Localism is a consumer philosophy that brings a sense of meaning and belonging, as well as a sense of security on an economic, environmental and psychological level. While national brands are relatable, consumers are also aware of the practical benefits of the “new nationalism” – more attractive prices and improved products. International brands can emphasize the source of raw materials or the location of manufacturing (e.g., local growing regions, local workers involved in the production process) to show how they contribute to the local community as a global company. In the case of China, highlighting the diversity and characteristics of different regions (e.g. dialects, cuisines and crafts) can also convey a more precise sense of localism and inspire consumers from different regions to connect with the brand.

In the long run, localism also offers a potential solution for sustainability. Companies also need to focus on sustainability localization. Consumers will scrutinize whether global brands take their local sustainability commitments seriously. Eco-conscious consumers will have higher expectations for traceability of raw materials and transparency about how brands protect local resources.

Victoria Li
Victoria Li

Senior Trends Analyst, China

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