Affluent Consumers Stake Claim in China: New Group of ‘Twentysomethings’ Looks to Acquire Upscale Items

Though the there is a dearth of sophisticated consumer research on China, J. Walter Thompson's executive vp/chairman of the agency's Greater China and Korea region, Grace Atkinson, said a group of wealthy and adventurous consumers is developing within the sphere of influence of Hong Kong. 'They'll try anything. They've gone from having no phones to having mobile phones,' she said at a recent agency meeting here.

Atkinson explained that Hong Kong serves as a measuring stick in terms of quality of life in mainland China. Its influence can most easily be detected in Guangzhou and Shanghai, where the incomes are higher and tastes more sophisticated relative to other areas.

One reason for the disposable income is living arrangements, particularly among younger consumers, Atkinson said. Those in the 'twentysomething' generation in China are able to save about 40-50% of their income. Why? Most live either with parents or in apartments supplied by their employers or the government. Therefore, this group is flush with disposable income.

Advertisers will also be happy to know that these newly affluent consumers are ad friendly too. 'They really like advertising,' said Atkinson. Often, she added, the 15-minute blocks of advertising on television get higher marks than the shows.

M.H. Moore is a N.Y.-based ADWEEK associate editor.

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