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Consumers willing to pay for improved experience

By Liu Weifeng | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-04 11:13

When I spent 4,000 yuan ($588) on a 55-inch smart TV during the Singles Day shopping spree last November, I regarded it as a really good deal, as I had saved about 1,000 yuan and also obtained an 80-month subscription to view additional content.

But, when I spent the same amount of money on a vacuum cleaner last month, I thought it was quite expensive.

Both are home appliances, so why do they give me such different feelings? I cannot help asking myself that question.

The superficial reason maybe lies in how the items are used. I started watching TV when I was a 2-year-old. We had a 12-inch black-and-white TV set, a local brand named Panda, in my parents' home in a small city in Central China's Henan province in 1981, and then upgraded to an 18-inch color TV in 1986, another local brand called Great Wall.

The Japanese cartoon series The Flower Angel and The Smart Little Monk Ikkyu-san and US animation Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and the Czech cartoon Mole, which I watched on TV were an unforgettable part of my childhood memory.

But the older I got, the less time I was willing to spend watching TV. We don't even turn it on at all for weeks now. The big-screen LED TV in my living room is now more like a household ornament than a real appliance.

I got my first vacuum cleaner 12 years ago when I moved into my own home in Beijing after getting married.

Actually, I use the vacuum cleaner almost as often as the TV, once a week on the weekend.

Now, I seldom turn on the TV, partly because I need more time to take care of my son and try to protect him from being got addiction of watching any electronic devices, including TV.

Whenever I want to follow any Chinese or foreign soap opera, I always turn to my iPhone. Lying down anywhere, be it a sofa, cushion or bed, holding the phone is an enjoyable experience.

Before I got this new vacuum cleaner, I really hated the noise, unpleasant smell and cord trouble my old vacuum gave me.

The new one is a revolutionary product, cord-free, hassle-free, low noise, with hepa air purifier and multiple cleaning heads. It has greatly raised my willingness to use it since it's more like a cleaning toy rather than a household appliance.

The truth is, now in China, people are willing to pay what can bring them better experience, be it a product-generated experience, service or environment.

China is entering a consumption-driven growth stage, and along with people's basic need for housing, food, clothes and transportation, they have an increasingly growing appetite for quality products and better services.

Consumption accounts for a growing share of China's GDP in the past years. Its contribution to GDP has risen from 45.7 percent in 2008 to 66.4 percent in 2015.

For the January-March period, Chinese consumers accounted for 77.2 percent of its economy, higher than the same period last year, which stood at 64.6 percent, according to the latest report by The Boston Consulting Group.

By 2021, Chinese consumers are poised to add $1.8 trillion to the economy, which is equivalent to the current consumption size of Germany, cited the report, released in late June.

Chinese tourists have been a phenomenon in recent years. The older generation are known for their extravagance for snapping up luxury bags in Europe and the United States, but frugal when it comes to accommodation and food.

However, the rising middle-class and millennials have greater willingness to book star-rated hotels and taste local food at fine restaurants.

Back in 1981, when each of my parents' monthly pay was no more than 50 yuan, the 399-yuan 12-inch Panda TV cost one-third of the family's annual income.

Now in my daily life, nothing among daily necessities or home appliances could cost me a single month's pay. The big spending is for housing, a car, education and travel.

It seems my only big annual spending is travel, being a contributor to the 122 million outbound trips made by Chinese people last year.

Contact the writer at liuweifeng@chinadaily.com.cn

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