China’s middle and upper-middle class, a modern force with timeless cultural imperatives, is reshaping the world. Yes, China’s economic landscape is shifting. It’s more unstable than any point in recent history. That said, the middle class – and China’s economy as a whole — has achieved critical mass. It’s big. In 2016, it accounted for more than 50% of total luxury sales. Since 2012, the People’s Republic of China has been the world’s largest auto market.
This demographic isn’t going to evaporate unless the bottom falls out of China’s growth model, and no one, save the ultra-pessimistic 1%, is predicting that too-awful-to-imagine outcome.
But to harness its spending power, marketers must keep cultural and motivational fundamentals front and center in their strategic plans. They must realize that while Chinese consumers are becoming modern and international, they are becoming “Western.” Chinese consumers exhibit a unique combination of motivations and conflicts that remain constant over time, independent of growth rates and degree of economic anxiety.