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Chinese Are More Confident About Their Financial Security Than Westerners, According To Leo Burnett Study

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SHANGHAI (AdAgeChina.com) -- Even though salaries in China remain low compared to Western countries, people in the mainland display a higher degree of comfort with their financial circumstances than people in more developed markets.

On average, urban workers in China earned $1,878 per capita in the first six months of 2008, or $313 per month, according to China's National Bureau of Statistics. Even so, Chinese are more willing to spend compared to consumers in developed markets. Unlike Westerners, they tend to regard money as a means to gain respect and enhance attractiveness, and have a higher level of trust towards credit and financial institutions.

Their satisfaction is based on China's booming economy and development prospects, according to Leo Burnett. The agency asked nearly 2,000 people across ten countries about their personal finances through an online survey conducted at the end of April 2008. The study was conducted in Brazil, China, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S.

The survey results show distinct differences in attitude and perception towards money between Chinese and people in other emerging markets compared to Westerners. People in most of the emerging markets were much more financially confident about the next 12 months than the majority of people in the West.

Chinese Plan To Spend More, Save Less

Over two-thirds (74%) of the respondents in China are quite comfortable, or very comfortable with their financial circumstances in the coming year, compared to 56% in the U.K. and Spain, 53% in the U.S., 50% in Germany and 47% in Italy.

Chinese, like people in other emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia and the UAE, are relatively confident in the global economy over the next five years compared to the West, with the exception of Spain.

When asked how this perception affects the way they save or spend, close to 40% of Chinese respondents plan to spend more, whereas only 16% plan to save more. In contrast, only 9% of French respondents, for example, plan to spend more and close to half of them will be saving more. In Leo Burnett's research, the French were gloomiest about the future of the global economy among all respondents.

Chinese people also regard money as an important means of enhancing their attractiveness and gaining respect. The two most important reasons to acquire more money, according to the majority of Chinese respondents, is to gain the respect of colleagues, family and friends. Across all markets globally, however, these reasons were regarded as least important.

High Confidence In Financial Institutions

When asked to rate their level of trust in banks and credit card companies against other industries and professions including doctors, police, supermarkets, insurance companies, journalists and politicians, both the Chinese and Russians rated credit card companies and banks as the most trustworthy professions. Globally, supermarkets are more trusted than banks, insurers and credit card companies.
Chinese have high confidence in credit and financial insitutions
Chinese have high confidence in credit and financial insitutions Credit: Normandy Madden
Chinese view credit as a big help, said Shen Baiping, Leo Burnett's national planning director based in Shanghai, and do not worry about repayments. "People in Brazil and Spain see it as a help, but do worry about it. British and Americans see credit as encouraging them to buy things they don't need."

Respondents from Germany and France, meanwhile, are more likely than others to say that credit is dangerous and avoid using it as much as possible.

Despite the market-specific differences in the perception of money's role in people's lives, there seems to be a growing and shared recognition of "econology" – the close interrelationship between humanity, the economy and the environment.

Respondents in eight out of the 10 markets surveyed consider climate change a threat to their personal financial security. Worldwide, climate change, on average, is considered a bigger threat to personal financial security than immigration, population growth or the growing influence of developing countries.

The world has entered a "people era," said Mr. Shen. "For any brand to be successful, it must put people at the center of its mindset. As money plays such an integral role in people's economic behavior, it will be highly helpful for marketers to understand how the face of money has changed in the eyes of the people."

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