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Women's shopping tastes diversify
By Shao Zongwei (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-14 22:58

Recent studies have shown that Chinese women are broadening their shopping horizons, spending on everything from travel to plastic surgery.

Research conducted by the Beijing-based China Mainland Medicine Marketing Research Ltd Co indicated that while women spend significant amounts on garments, social activities and dining out, other items such as tourism, sports and even plastic surgery are eating into savings nationwide.

"We noticed that female spending has become diversified," said company spokesman Wu Jiang. "Though some items are still new on the list, we are quite optimistic that there will be an increase in spending in these areas."

According to the survey, nearly 85 per cent of participants said they spend money on new clothes every year, while nearly all said they dined out or went to recreational venues at least once a year.

Nearly 41 per cent of respondents said they took part in regular sports sessions and more than 35 per cent travelled every year to take a break from the pressures of work, according to the survey.

Meanwhile, nearly 20 per cent said they bought health-related products to enhance physical well-being.

The survey examined 13 fields which they believe are pertinent to the physical and psychological well-being of women, so as to measure the purchasing power and trends among female consumers. Results of the survey were released early this week, and was conducted this spring among 6,000 urban women between the ages 15 and 55 in 30 provincial capitals across China.

Statistics from the company showed that the yearly overall expenditure in the 13 sectors amounted to 267 billion (US$32 billion), making up more than half of their total expenditures measured at 480.5 billion yuan (US$58 billion).

The company's analysts predicted that if the income of female consumers continues to grow by 5 per cent every year, the market will reach 307.3 billion yuan (US$37 billion) in 2009.

"It is natural that women pay more attention to their health and pursue a life of better quality, especially now that economic conditions have improved," said Jiang Yongping, a researcher with the Institute on Women's Studies under the All-China Women's Federation.

While acknowledging that the growth in the amount of money women spent on themselves reflects the more equal status between men and women, Jiang actually attributed the change mainly to the improved economic conditions in families overall.

Traditionally, Chinese women have put their children's and husbands' consumption needs before their own.

"I believe that they (Chinese women) still give priority to their children," Jiang said. "Only now that they have more money at disposal so that they can buy more things for themselves."

The survey has also found that women in coastal regions lead in health product consumption, with those in the north and the south spending an average of 536.2 yuan (US$65) and 501.7 yuan (US$60) per month respectively. The figures are nearly 200 yuan (US$24) more than that in central and western areas.

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