Even Rich Chinese Are Clipping Coupons and Hunting for Bargains

Worried About Job Losses and Salary Freezes, Taxi Survey Data Shows Behavior Changes Among Affluent Consumers

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Touchmedia's survey shows affluent Chinese are cutting back on entertainment but not on apparel
Touchmedia's survey shows affluent Chinese are cutting back on entertainment but not on apparel

SHANGHAI ( -- Just over 16% of affluent Chinese in Shanghai say they are unaffected by the global recession now creeping into China.

Of the remaining 84%, four out of five believe thrifty behavior is the best way to cope with the current situation, with cutbacks on spending for entertainment, education and investment.

Clothing and accessories are the category least likely to be affected by spending cuts, with only 2.92% choosing this response as a likely area to reduce costs, according to Touchmedia.
Touchmedia's Micky Fung in Shanghai
Touchmedia's Micky Fung in Shanghai Credit: Normandy Madden
The in-taxi interactive media company in China conducted a survey about purchasing behavior among 800,000 affluent consumers in Shanghai during December 2008 and January 2009, using 8,000 of Touchmedia's interactive taxi screens.

The vast majority of passengers in Chinese taxis are affluent, educated and hold white-collar jobs.

The survey shows significant changes in consumers' thinking and behavior in a remarkably short period of time, said Touchmedia's Chairman-CEO Micky Fung in Shanghai. Even though purchasing behavior has been affected, "They are still willing to shop and their priorities remain more on lifestyle and personal presentation than subsistence products." he said.

A significant percentage of respondents, 42.61%, said they could buy good-quality products at a greater discount than usual during the survey period, and almost half said they would take advantage of bargain shopping. Only 7.94% said they were willing to compromise and buy lower- quality goods than usual to save money.

In addition, coupons have become popular among affluent consumers. Just over 38% of respondents said they are now paying more attention to advertising with a discount message and 18.15% said they have never focused on this type of advertising before, but have started to pay closer attention to such messages recently.

The current uncertainty was demonstrated by one question in particular: "Does the financial crisis raise the fear of unemployment for you?"

More than two-thirds of respondents said that it did, but 30% said they felt completely secure in their jobs. About one-fifth of respondents expressed concern about their salary falling. Diminished career prospects and loss of benefits were cited as other significant worries.

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