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Middle class sitting in the driver's seat for consumption

Updated: 2013-11-14 00:51
By Shi Jing ( China Daily)

In tier-four cities, 75 percent of those identifying as middle class are more anxious to buy a car than a luxury watch.

In addition, the Chinese middle class seems drawn to modern technology, such as the Internet, smartphones or tablets.

Daily use of the Internet among the Chinese middle class is 34 percent higher than the general public, the survey said. Time spent on digital media also was reportedly higher than was devoted to TV, said ZenithOptimedia CEO Chang.

"But the advertisers have not invested enough regarding the new habits of the emerging middle class. About 45 percent of their time is devoted to the Internet, but money invested to that end only takes up about 16 percent," Chang said.

"The middle class spent about 10 percent of their time on online video, but only 1.5 percent of advertising money is targeting this part. It means that advertisers or brands still have much room of improvement," he said.

The study comes at a time when the central government is addressing the importance of consumption, which is said to be the major driving force for the country's economic growth.

By 2020, China's household domestic consumption is expected to account for half of the nation's total output, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The middle class is said to be spearheading that consumption. Not only does this group have a better understanding of brands, but ZenithOptimedia said its members are enthusiastic consumers. The luxury watches they buy each year are worth an estimated 49 billion yuan. They reportedly consume 2.7 billion cups of coffee and buy 5.1 million cars a year. And the amount they spend on travel will soon reach 300 billion yuan annually.

Andrew Leong, head of strategic resources for ZenithOptimedia Greater China, believes it is a dream many aspire to. About one-tenth of China's population belongs to the middle class, but many are working hard to reach that kind of lifestyle soon.

Zhu Xiangyang, chief content officer for China's leading online video provider Youku, said it is adjusting its content to reflect the taste of the middle class, with its growing influence and higher purchasing power.

"Although the middle class is a relatively new concept in China, it has already grown into a dream that a lot of people look up to. We have seen that quite a large number of people are working hard to attain that goal," he said.

Apart from the income, middle class is more of lifestyle or a sense of what you have, Boyle concluded. "Middle-class people usually desire more in their lives, and they are very ambitious."

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