June 19, 2012

Capture China’s Consumers, Capture China’s Women

Mogujie is a Pinterest-like site popular with women in China

As I watched China successfully launch the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft last week, carrying the country’s first-ever female astronaut, Liu Yang, I couldn’t help from thinking that China has come a long way in terms of improving gender equality. Though it’s still a work in progress, it might come as a shock that when I was born, some people were a little disappointed because I was a girl. And I was born in Shanghai, the most modern city in China. The same feeling was even there when my little sister was born, 12 years later.

I have nothing to complain about, really — my family loves my sister and me deeply. But there was a definite dynamic at play in the way I was raised — as a daughter, I should be, according to culture, raised in a “wealthy” (spoiled) way. (For lack of a better word.) Most Chinese parents believe now that their daughters should be raised “wealthily” so they don’t go running off with poor boys. Boys, on the other hand — as the thinking goes — should be raised in a “poor” way, so they’ll appreciate things more and work harder to earn their way up.

So, my suggestion to brands: target women in China.

Chinese women hold the buying power in the households, and Chinese girls have the buying power over their parents and boyfriends. It’s much easier for a Chinese girl to beg her dad for a new car and get it than for a Chinese boy to even consider asking. And it’s only normal that girls “need” dozens of bags and shoes to go with their different outfits. You might say it’s the same elsewhere — daddies usually have a soft spot for their daughters.

"Show-off" sites like Mogujie are becoming popular with the wealthier urban female demographic

This is true, but just look at few successful e-commerce/Taobao-related SNS sites in China, many in the mold of sites like Pinterest. As with Pinterest, the likes of Meilishuo or Mogujie are female-dominated. Chinese girls enjoy sharing what they buy both on- and offline, let alone the hours they spend per day just cruising online for no particular reason. But while Pinterest started off as a female-dominated visual sharing site, with more male users coming later, it’s not really common in China to see men sharing online what they bought or spending so much time online (without being considered strange).

Offline, a 20-year-old girl in China can proudly tell you that she bought a Louis Vuitton handbag, for example, because it’s a good investment compared to buying another leather handbag, due to its durability and style. A 40-year-old woman in China will buy the same handbag but for a very different reason — if she’s not spending that money on herself, her husband might spend it on a mistress.

No matter how different their reasons for buying, the easy thing to remember is to target both of these female demographics both on- and offline, since they’re the ones in control of the men’s pocketbooks.

In addition to her work as a social media and PR professional, blogger and brand consultant, Hong Kong-based Elle Lee now hosts the new online program Weibo Today. Check out Elle’s personal site at elleiconlee.com and follow her on Twitter at @ElleIconLee or Sina Weibo at @ElleLeeHK

(Opinions expressed by Jing Daily columnists do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Jing Daily editorial team.)

Business & Finance / Fashion / Lifestyle / Marketing & Branding / Social Media / Tech
Tag: branding, demographic, e-commerce, gender... , More
  • Marshall

    “A 40-year-old woman in China will buy the same handbag but for a very different reason — if she’s not spending that money on herself, her husband might spend it on a mistress.”
    Do you have ANY research to support your argument? Otherwise it’s a pretty heavy accusation. 

    • Max

      Hi Marshall, no need of research, just live in China and you will understand what she is talking about

      • Marshall

        Hi Max,

        I’m Chinese, and I’ve been living in Shanghai since I was born, where the author is from. So I think I have some authority to say that I am a little bit offended by the author’s unsupported arguments on Chinese men. That’s all I’m saying. 
        On the other hand, I realized that this is only a blog-like column, which in that case, I won’t stress too much on the research side of the article. 

        • chinaluxculturebiz

          Marshall,

          Just a note here, the column reflects the opinion and observations of the writer, rather than being expressed as a truism of the China market. When Elle says a man “might” spend money on, for instance, a mistress, this does not paint “Chinese men” with a singular brush. It’s impossible to speak to the columnist’s exact observations, but this would seem to be a fair assessment of part of the luxury industry as a whole. 

          • Marshall

            Fair enough. Having to go with men purchasing for their mistress, though somewhat reflects author’s opinion on Chinese men, which is fine but also disappointing.

            Also, how would you judge whether it is a fair judgement of the INDUSTRY in general without certain research backing you up?(At least NOT from this article.) Will it be “no need of research, just live in China and you will understand what she is talking about” again?

            I apologize for being a stickler, but I’m in the market research industry and data to me is everything.  

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