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Lifestyle Upgrade Driving Imports to China

Lifestyle Upgrade Driving Imports to China

China is becoming a significant market for imported goods, driven by consumers’ growing desire for a lifestyle upgrade as their incomes rise, according to a report out Wednesday.

The report, a joint effort by Deloitte China, the China Chamber of International Commerce and AliResearch, noted robust economic growth in China has added to the numbers of middle-to-high-income consumers. Those consumers tend to be more discerning about what they purchase and are turning to imported goods, which are generally perceived as higher quality alternatives to domestically produced goods, the report said.

Economic stability, along with sustained infrastructure improvement and “constantly enhanced consumer goods” underpin “the continuous release of consumer demand potential” in China, the report said, making the case that China is now an increasingly important consumption-based economy. Bolstering the case, the report said total retail sales of consumer goods in China last year hit RMB36.6 trillion, a 10.2% rise over a year earlier. That total accounted for a quarter of total global retail sales.

Alongside higher income, “the information channels available to consumers in the digital age have become more plentiful than ever before. Consumers’ awareness has risen gradually,” the report said. “Their focus has shifted from traditional consumption to emerging consumption and from commodities to services. More emphasis has been placed on quality, content and shopping experience for goods and other diversified needs.”

Specifically, food, mom and baby products, cosmetics, watches, glasses and jewelry are top categories for imported consumption, because Chinese consumers place priority on food safety, product quality and design, the report said.

Discerning consumers are concentrating their purchases on high-end and high-quality imports, with China Customs’ data showing that last year, the range of categories of consumer goods imported into China continued to rise and choices of daily consumer goods were more abundant. Consumers, the report said, “are placing new demands on imported consumer goods.