Mintel announces five key Chinese consumer trends for 2018

October 31, 2017

Mintel has today (31 October, 2017) revealed the key consumer trends set to impact China in 2018.

Over the coming year:

  • Consumers will embrace machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) as long as it makes their lives easier and they are permitted to opt-in or opt-out.
  • Young consumers will be actively looking for ways to deal with the social stress they experience on a daily basis through playful and novel interactions.
  • Brands that tap into traditional native Chinese philosophy, remedies and forms of exercise in product formulation and marketing messages will find success.
  • Consumers will be more engaged with brands that offer products and services that allow them to enhance who they really are, and experiment and express themselves however they choose.
  • Consumers will look negatively on brands that do not offer mobile alternatives and will view them as not forward-thinking and disinterested in maintaining customer support.

Looking ahead to 2018, Mintel’s Director of Research, Asia Pacific, Matthew Crabbe, Manager of Trends, Asia Pacific, Delon Wang, and Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific, Joyce Lam explore the key consumer trends set to shake up China’s consumer markets in 2018, including implications for both consumers and brands.


Machine learning and AI are being embraced by consumers as they increase productivity, efficiency and pleasure.

Delon Wang, Manager of Trends, Asia Pacific at Mintel, said:

“Consumers are gaining exposure to different uses for machine learning and are beginning to have positive experiences with the technology. According to Mintel research, 46% of Chinese Mintropolitans (aged 20-49) are interested in learning about their household habits, suggesting that they appreciate the power of technology in monitoring, analysing and reporting. Such technology is able to learn about an individual’s unique personality and preferences in order to create customised experiences. Through the use of everyday smart home devices and appliances, AI can help consumers create an improved environment to work, live and shop.”

“Consumers will generally prefer opt-in choices and are likely to embrace machine learning if it makes their lives easier. As the desire for a seamless lifestyle becomes universal, we will see more aspects of life being incorporated with machine learning capabilities. Supporting consumers desire for individuality and autonomy, we will see more personalised services and products available through AI and machine learning in the months and years to come.” Delon continued.


Higher levels of social stress are driving China’s youngest generations to demand more informal and playful interactions in both the virtual and physical world.

Matthew Crabbe, Director of Research, Asia Pacific at Mintel, said:

“Not only in the digital world, but also in the physical world, young consumers are embracing less rigid and more playful ways to engage with their surroundings, which helps them feel more relaxed in social circumstances. An increasingly popular form of escape, many are fleeing to the virtual world to interact with friends and even strangers. According to Mintel research, 63% of 20-24 year olds say they play online games to relieve stress.”

“Looking ahead, the youngest generations will be actively looking for ways to deal with the social stress they experience on a daily basis. On the one hand, consumers will embrace more activities that they can do by themselves without the pressure of relying on other people; on the other hand, they will want novel and playful solutions, both online and offline, that can help them to strengthen their relationship with the people around them.” Matthew continued.


Consumers increasingly understand the balance between their own health and that of the environment, and are demanding greener, healthier life solutions from brands.

Matthew Crabbe, Director of Research, Asia Pacific at Mintel, said:

“Consumers are increasingly in search of healthier, happier and more balanced lives. They want antidotes to urban congestion and environmental pollution, and greener, more people-friendly cities. Mintel research reveals that 58% of Chinese Mintropolitans (aged 20-49) agree they are willing to pay more for ethical brands. However, consumers’ motives lie not in the pursuit of egalitarian principles, rather they are after benefits for their own health.”

“In 2018, consumers will prioritise better quality products that offer them greater personal life-enhancing benefits and make them feel good about their choice to support a brand that claims to offer a better balance with nature. Brands that demonstrate how the ethics behind their product or service provide concrete benefits to consumers, their families and their neighbourhoods will tap into this growing trend.” Matthew continued.


In seeking to express their individuality, consumers are absorbing alternative lifestyle influences and experiences from a globally-connected community.

Joyce Lam, Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific at Mintel, said:

“Chinese consumers are becoming involved in creative work, choosing flexible working arrangements, travelling to unusual places, and living unconventional lives—including the 41% of teens who say they would like to live in an unconventional way—all the time absorbing new influences. New technologies are accelerating this process, bringing ever more choice to consumers, and giving them more scope to explore their own sense of self. As consumers become more individualistic, the challenge for brands is to respond to their individual needs.

“As growing incomes expand consumers’ product choices, they are empowered to choose between brands that offer products that help them express their individuality from around the world. Looking ahead, more brands will offer products and services that allow consumers to enhance who they really are, and allow them to experiment and express themselves however they choose.” Joyce continued.


Mobile devices are blurring the lines of formality and consumers are embracing this change for the convenience it brings.

Delon Wang, Manager of Trends, Asia Pacific at Mintel, said:

“Chinese consumers are relying on mobile technology to support various aspects of their lives and this is attributed to the speed and convenience the technology brings. According to Mintel research, 87% of Chinese consumers in tier 1-3 cities used mobile payments in 2017, up from 69% in 2016. Mobile devices and apps have now entered the space of formality, and what would have once required face-to-face interaction or physical official documentation has now succumbed to the popularity of this multi-functional and portable technology.

“Looking forward, consumers will become comfortable with the idea of everything—regardless of how formal or official it may be—being available via mobile and will question brands that are unable to provide this option. Eventually, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will integrate with the mobile interactive space, complementing one another and enabling consumers to gain greater work-life efficacy and multi-tasking capability.” Concluded Delon.

Interviews with Mintel Analysts, press review copies of Mintel’s Chinese Consumer Trends 2018 and images are available on request from the press office.

Mintel’s Chinese Consumer Trends are available for readers to download via this link.

Mintel News

For the latest in consumer and industry news, top trends and market perspectives, stay tuned to Mintel News featuring commentary from Mintel’s team of global category analysts.

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