Generation Gaps towards Consumer Behaviours

Whenever one is trying to talk about the consuming ability of Chinese people, the capability of Chinese expenditure should be familiarized by most of the world. If you try to go to Paris, Milan and step into any luxurious shops, it is of high chance that you can see Chinese people around you.

Due to the immature market environment, the Chinese consumer behaviors are sometimes being criticized as it shows a certain special characteristics. However, the side that we always see about this group of consumers does not represent the whole population of Chinese. Indeed, the traditional Chinese culture has formed its unique consumer characteristics, and the distinctions between different generations show big differences between these gaps.

When it comes to consumer behavior, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory is always being mentioned. These hierarchies of five different levels of demand are the minimum to meet their basic physiological needs, followed by the security needs, social needs, esteem needs, and lastly self-realization.

Reflected in this hierarchy of needs theory is a universal condition, but in the actual market behavior, especially in the Chinese market, the environment is quite complex, and different phenomena under this model varies between generations. The consuming behaviors, life styles and habits between different generations show an obvious distinction.

Chinese towards expenditure are usually divided into four generations and distinct by the general level of economic development during their growth stage, which shape their primary characteristic.

  • 1st : Born on or before 1945, which have come along with the war
  • 2nd : Born between 1946 to 1965, which is the generation of baby bomb
  • 3rd : Born between 1966 to 1980, the Generation X
  • 4th : Born after 1981, includes the Post-80s and Post-90s

The 4th generation always represents the most developed consumer groups, while the 1st generation is often on behalf of the least developed consumers. These different groups of consumers are grown in different environment in specific period of times. The economic status and the development of consumer market surrounding shapes different specific behaviors of them.

The 1st generation grows in more or less a poor environment as they have experienced war in their lifetime. Basic physiological need is the core value of their consuming behavior. They tends to have a strong family values and the value of money expenditure tends to be more pence-pinching. They will usually compare prices before making a purchase and the preference goes to the cheaper product. Only necessities and essential products would be on their list of purchase. Luxurious products would not attract this group of consumers.

The 2nd generation is the generation of the baby bombers. The consumer market in China expands a lot in the growth stage of this group of people, in order to suit the dramatically expanding market of consumption. Upon the stable growth of post-war economy, there are more choices and varieties of products available in the market. Thus, this group of people tends to pay more attention to product safety and reliability from the varieties. They will conduct careful planning and research before buying any products.

The 3rd generation is what we called “Generation X”. This generation follows the powerful baby bomber generation. “X” described the lack of identity that members of Generation X felt — they didn’t know where they belonged, but knew for sure that they weren’t a part of the overbearing generation of Baby Boomers. With the shocking growth of the economic status during Baby bombers stage, the parents of Generation X would be able to provide better environment for their child. The identification problem together with the better economy has created the starts of needs for self-esteem and self-actualization. The concept of luxury products starts to grow in this stage, as different products seems to be able to provide this group of people different identity. Fashion trends and brand-name goods start to be an important concern of this group of peoples’ buying behavior.

The 4th generation is called Post-80s and Post-90s in China. Post-80s and 90s are colloquial terms which refer to the generation whose members were born after 1980 in Mainland China, after the introduction of the One-child policy. This generation currently aged below 32, making up a major portion of China’s young adult and teenager demography. In this generation, the One-Child-Policy started to launch and the effects of this policy is significant. With the fastest-ever growing of Chinese economy and the restriction of child in family, they are sometimes being referred as “Little Emperors” at home. In many Chinese families the 4-2-1 format, 4 grandparents, 2 parents, one child, takes place, resulting with a child which receives love and attention and has no siblings to compete with. The spending habits and buying behavior of this generation is very significant as their parents tends to encourage them on spending if this makes them feel happier. The concept of luxurious products is very important to this generation and they are willing to spend a lot on buying expensive products to treat themselves.

I have conducted a skype interview towards different family members of mine who live in China, including my grandma, uncle, auntie and their daughter, my cousin, to understand their consuming behavior. To make the interview easier, I have picked up an example of product: Mobile Phone, as they all have one and it’s easier to analyses their behavior.

Grandma /71 years old / Retired person/ Nokia 8310

Uncle /48 years old/ Logistic Manager/ Blackberry 8520

Auntie /39 years old/ Housewife/ iPhone 3GS

Cousin/16 years old/ Student/ iPhone 4S

Question 1: Why do you think you will need a mobile phone?

Grandma: Indeed I do not need a mobile phone, but my son is not living with me currently. They buy me a phone so that they can find me anytime even I am not at home.

Uncle: I need a mobile phone to contact my family as well as use this in working purposes.

Auntie: Obviously everyone needs a mobile phone in this generation. I need to contact my friends and family. There’s no reason for not having a mobile phone for everyone live in town in China now.

Cousin: I need the phone to contact my friends and play games. I also need it for listening music and watch movies.

Question 2: Why did you choose your current phone?

Grandma: My son wants me to have a phone but I really don’t need one. So I just take his old phone to use.

Uncle: Blackberry is good for organizing my stuffs at work. It facilitates my working process. It is very useful.

Auntie: iPhone is very trendy and popular now. The shape and the functions of it are perfect. I feel good for using iPhone that it gives me a luxurious feeling. But my phone is out of fashion now, I am going to ask your uncle to change a new iPhone4S for me soon.

Cousin: This is nonsense of asking why people use iPhone! Everyone knows that iPhone is the best. You are going to use iPhone to do everything. The best thing is that people jealous when you are holding it!

Question 3: How do you find the price of your phone?

Grandma: I don’t know the price of it, but I am sure that it must be high. My son needs to get a new phone for work so give this old one to me. However, it can still function well and I think it’s kind of waste to give it to me. I try to give it to my granddaughter but she refused to use this.

Uncle: I think it is reasonable. The price matches the functions and it eases my workload in certain extents.

Auntie: I think the price is high but It is still reasonable. The price is a bit high as compare to other phones. But as long as it is trendy people are willing to give money to them.

Cousin: The price is not expensive at all. This gives every functions that you can use and it worth more that it cost.

Question 4: Will you get a new mobile phone in the coming period?

Grandma: No. I am happy with this one.

Uncle: Not in this period until it’s not functioning. This one matches all my need of a mobile phone.

Auntie: Yes. I want to get an iPhone 4S. But maybe my daughter is going to get a new phone soon. So I may get hers if she is getting a new one.

Cousin: Probably. I heard that the new iPhone 5 is launching soon and I want to get that one. It would be the trendiest and people would envy about it. I think mobile phone should always be changing due to current trends.

I hope the results would give you more clues on the difference between generations in consumer behaviors. These gaps in a single family actually represent majority of these groups in China. And I believe this is worth to understand.

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Is Apple Launching the iPhone5 in March? No. it’s iPhone7!

Yes, everyone’s attentions draw on the same side again. Recently, there have been rumours saying that Apple is going to release its new product. Everyone tends to try on guessing when Apple is going to launch its new iPhone.

 

But actually the new product is presented in the Chinese market already! The price is incredibly cheap with the totally new style. Wait for a minute… This is actually a “HiPhone5” which belongs to the clone product that is made in China.

This is a new product from a local Chinese mobile provider which promised its customers to “Go beyond the iPhone5!” The price is very cheap with only 200 Yuan or approximately 18 GBP. The function is very similar to the previous iPhone by Apple with a large touch screen. Its weight is very light and makes it feel like a toy instead.

This new products in China is always innovative things to shock the world.  iPhone5? There’s more! “iPhone 6” & “iPhone7” available!

This so-called “iPhone 6” claims to cover all functions in the real iPhone, with the only different that its logo writes “iPnoho 6”.

Another network provider also invented the “iPncne7”, at which that the classic logo of Apple is not being bited.

It will not be surprised for any Chinese people to see these kinds of fake products, as the culture of Chinese production has obviously involved these products into different areas, such as clothing, catering, advertising etc.

However, what is the level of awareness among typical Dundee shoppers about these kinds of products? Let’s try to ask around to see some feedbacks. After interviewing different people about their points of view on these “new” products, the conclusion comes with two major opinions.

Along the interviewees, some have heard that China is famous for fake products while the others said that they don’t really know about these matters. However, all interviewees expressed that they have never thought that a “special version” of fake iPhone are existing in the market.

Regarding the feeling towards these phones, some interviewees think that it’s very incredible to have such an idea innovative items, while most of the others think it is not proper to make counterfeit products.

But when it comes to the questions that will they try to get one for themselves, almost everyone being interviewed refused to try using these phones, mainly worrying about the trustworthiness of these fake products. The safety issues of using these phones are most concerned. The actual workings of functions are also worried. However, some young interviewees said they may try to get one to carry around due to the fact that they think it’s funny, but they won’t use it for long-term usage.

Almost everyone hold similar feeling towards these products, and it is worth discussing about the responses of all interviewees. How do they actually perceive the quality of electronic products?

Price, texture and style are basically the most important things of clothing or accessories to draw consumers’ attentions. While many of us don’t actually care about the producing place of clothing or accessories, place of birth of electronic products seems to catch more attentions among typical shoppers.

The reason under this phenomenon is mainly due to the common stereotype of Chinese products. The reputation of products from China is usually not aligning with safety or durability, which makes potential buyers unwilling to get products. News reporting quality problems, such as the 2007 recall of toys containing lead paint, occur with alarming frequency.

With the low labour costs and rapid turnover in filling orders, the manufacturing companies in China have gained an important place around the world. Companies all over different areas tried to get orders with this cost-efficient expert. Nevertheless, nothing is going to be perfect and the quality is normally sacrificed among these production advantages. But breaking up is hard to do. Companies that build long-term relationships with Chinese manufacturers still find that their partnerships worth to be continued.

With the increasing orders around the world, Chinese manufacturing industry is stepping closer to the center of world trading, however, China is known as a country producing counterfeit products. This long-build image of their defected products and copyright infringement may also pull this dragon back from the grateful path. Its future depends a lot on how it is going to tackles with their reputation. And this should be the most crucial thing that the country may want to reform.

Mahjong – the game that everyone in the East know

China is known to be having great influences in many different aspects around the world. When one tries to search on the Chinese invention history, he would not be surprised for how long as the list goes. Chinese innovation is evolving in diverse ways over different centuries. The diversities of China innovates are undeniable.

Despite the fact of Chinese success in innovation, some people may argue that China did have very little influenced over the field of Games and Recreations, as compared to its famous innovations in other aspects. However, it is now time to announce Chinese success in this area. One of the brilliant Chinese innovations is the games that we are playing in the daily life and cannot actually live without it – the poker card.

The Card game would not be unfamiliar in the west. Countless card games exist, using the playing cards which are identical in size and shape. However, many of us may not know that the first playing card is said to be appeared in the ninth century during the Tang dynasty (June 618 – June 907) in China.

The origin of playing card is hard to be determined, but it’s generally considered as originated in the 9th century from the “leaf game” in China.

The “leaf game” is divided into four categories according to the four seasons, while playing card that we have nowadays also have a similar saying. “leaf game” is not existed in the east anymore in these centuries, but it had generated into one of the favourite games among Chinese and Asian nowadays — Mahjong.

Mahjong means Sparrow in Chinese. Its name is said to be originated from an ancient royal granary. With an existing granary, bird suffering would be born. To encourage soldiers catching these unwelcomed birds, official position gave out bamboo chips as an award for counting rewards of caught sparrows. Soldiers use these chips as tools of the leaf game and later it has been developed as the official way of playing. The evolution of this stereotype is then named Mahjong, which is the meaning of sparrow.

The game is commonly played by four players on a specific table. Similar to the Western card game, mahjong is a game of skill, strategy and calculation and involves a certain degree of chance. Among Asia, mahjong is popularly played as a gambling game, though it may just as easily be played recreationally.



It is played with a set of 136 tiles based on Chinese characters and symbols, although some regional variations use a different number of tiles. In most variations, each player begins by receiving thirteen tiles. In turn players draw and discard tiles until they complete a legal hand using the fourteenth drawn tile to form four groups of legal tiles and a pair. There are fairly standard rules about how a piece is drawn, the kinds of melds, and the order of dealing and play. However there are many regional variations in the rules; in addition, the scoring system, the minimum hand necessary to win varies significantly based on the local rules being used.

When we talk about Mahjong in Asia, most of them would regard this as a beneficial activity regardless of the age of the players. There are four namely advantages of playing mahjong:

1)    It is proved to be beneficial to good health. When one is playing mahjong, both hands is working on different tasks and his mind kept thinking about how to win the game in the same time. Overtime, hand and Brain Corporation can be trained up, and can prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

2)    It can train up children’s early art education. When the adults are playing mahjong at home, kids can also learned the strategic way to play. The sound of mahjong crashing can also increase the sense of rhythm of children.

3)    For the goodness of mental health. The victory of mahjong changes in every round and it requires calm and understanding throughout all process. This can definitely train up the state of mind of one to join the highly competitive society, to prepare to join the life difficulties with a peaceful mind.

4)    It can also strengthening the time management. Mahjong in some ways emphasizes the importance of time. When the other players are waiting for you, this is the time to hurry up. Also, the fleeting opportunity to grasp the chance of winning the game would be a good and lively way to learn about the time management.



Above all, mahjong has been the major traditional game for recreations and there must be its own attractions for the huge numbers of active players. It would be recommendable to try learning this lovely battle and taste the feeling of this exciting game. There are many online mahjong systems in the internet now and it would be a good try to learn playing this complicated yet exciting game.

Inside China

The British flag was lowered over Government House in Hong Kong – at midnight 1st July 1997. Since then, Hong Kong had handed back to the Chinese authorities, and ended the British control for more than 150 years. The handover comes with the freedom of ‘One Country Two Systems’ in this Special Administrative Region for fifty years and it is granted to remain as an individual city with its own government and policies.

In the past fifteen years, China’s growing prosperity and the rising international status has shocked the world. Despite the fact that china has become the country that everyone is talking about, the population in Hong Kong that claimed themselves as “Chinese” people are decreasing significantly.

A recent survey about the “Strength of Chinese Citizen Identity”, conducted by the Hong Kong University Public Opinion Programme (HKU POP), found people in Hong Kong that would identify themselves as “Chinese Citizen” has dropped to the lowest record in the past twelve years while those would identify themselves as” Hong Kong Citizen” has raised to the highest in the past ten years.

The China’s economic growth and development are running in counter to the identification of Hong Kong people. This is difficult for others to work out the reason, and as the survey point out, it may be outside the scope of the economic effects. Since Hong Kong is returned to China from 1997, it is struggling on finding its own identity. The central dilemma in Hong Kong is on how to redefine itself now as part of China.

While Hong Kong is getting more and more interactions with China in different aspects, the underlying political, social, moral and cultural values, as well as language, between Hong Kong and Mainland China are still very distinct. The previous colonial background has left Hong Kong a very different intrinsic value on system of education, transportation, architecture, mass media etc. Many facilities came together when their core values were introduced in Hong Kong based on the British model. It is undeniable that Hong Kong was profoundly affected by the western culture. In the contrary, China has a long history with its own oriental cultural values and different systems of the development as compared to Hong Kong. Therefore, the merger of these two places with different cultural values must be handled with care.

Starting from Year 2005, Hong Kong government has loosened the requirement on the visiting visa of Chinese citizens as well as the immigration requirement. There are 150 quotas per day for immigrants from China to immigrate into Hong Kong. Since then, there are more and more Chinese tourists and immigrants flowing into Hong Kong. This has greatly boosted the tourism industry as well as the service industry and has created many opportunities for Hong Kong. In the meantime, the large numbers of new immigrants – which accounts to 55,000 per years- are usually with lower education level and are difficult for them to find a job in the place. Therefore most of these new immigrants are living under the government benefits and sometimes criticized for slowing down the economy of the Hong Kong and putting more burdens on taxpayers. This is widely discussed among Hong Kong society that this huge number of low-skilled immigrants flowing into Hong Kong is a great burden to the whole city. As compared to other countries in the world, immigration requirement usually tends to attract high-educated and skilled labours to the benefits of the place. Therefore, this policy in Hong Kong is widely discussed and it sometimes imposes negative feeling on new immigrants by the locals.

Recently, many pregnant women in China try to arrange to go to Hong Kong to give birth, so that the baby can have a Hong Kong Residence. However, the huge numbers of booking by these groups of non-local mothers had even excessed the total numbers of local mothers. It has put a greater burden on the whole medical and hospital system in Hong Kong. After the government has imposed certain quotas for non-local mothers to give birth, in order to ease the medical situation, nevertheless, certain mainland mothers still try to come to Hong Kong without pregnancy bookings and go to the Accident and Emergency department of hospitals to give birth. This is heavily affecting the normal medical system in Hong Kong. With many criticisms in the Hong Kong society, the quarrel between Hong Kong people and Chinese people has become fiercer.

As a unique area in China, Hong Kong has attracted different people around China to pose opportunities. In the contrary, there are also many underlying issues that diverges the two kinds of people. In this great time of China, Hong Kong people’s recognition of Chinese identity seems to be some kind of quiet protest towards the country. The move from colonial to Chinese rule has proved a wrenching experience, a psychological rupture that could take years to resolve.