The China British Business Council Spring Conference on March 14th was a highlight of Britain’s international trade calendar. Opened virtually by the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon David Cameron and China’s Ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Liu Xiaoming, and attended by two British government ministers, the Conference focused on three areas: China’s Urbanization; the Chinese Consumer and China Outbound.
Recognising Professor Sun Baohong’s expertise is the areas of Chinese consumer psychographics and the development of social media in China, the British government, represented by CBBC Chairman, Sir David Brewer, invited Professor Sun to the conference to participate in the ‘Chinese Consumer’ panel.
The ‘Chinese Consumer’ panel included: Dame Lucy Neville-Rolfe, former director of Tesco; David Roth, CEO WPP’s The Store; Matthew Plowright, Head of Research, China Confidential; Toni Piech, CEO, PAE Group; Mark Henderson, Chairman, London Luxury Quarter and Clemence Cheung, MD, Hutchinson Port Holdings.
Five consumer trends were identified by the ‘Chinese Consumer’ panel: growing mid-range consumption; the increasing importance of lower tier cities with upgrade towards brands; the rise of ‘Convenience China’; an increasing ‘trust’ gap between what brand promise and delivery and, finally, the soaring of spending by Chinese tourists abroad.
Professor Sun spoke of an increasing sophistication of Chinese consumers in the luxury category and the need to create luxury experience through emotional connection, heritage and loyalty. At the other end of the scale, she emphasized the need to begin low cost innovation in China with adaptation of product, cost and price to suit all levels of market tiers.
Consistent with the rest of the panel, she also emphasised the need for British companies to familiarize themselves with the particularities of Chinese social media, commenting that just 6% of Western MNCs use social media in their sales strategy compared to 50% of Chinese companies.
400 VIP delegates from all sectors attended the conference which was deemed to have been a great success in sharing knowledge, insightful analysis and practical advice to help British business develop in China.