The number of middle-class consumers on the mainland is expected to nearly triple to 100 million in 10 years from 2006, according to a survey released on Friday.
The survey, conducted by HSBC and MasterCard Worldwide, interviewed 1,736 people in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou from February to May.
It defined China's middle class as those whose annual income ranges from $7,500 to $25,000, aged from 20 to 49. It includes modern women and double-income couples with no kids (DINKs). "Modern women" refers to those with a university degree or above, a professional job and financial independence.
"As mainlanders are shifting from purely saving to spending and investment, there are huge opportunities for many financial service providers," said Catherine Fok, head of personal financial services at HSBC Bank (China) Co Ltd.
Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, economic advisor at Mastercard Worldwide, Asia-Pacific, said robust economic growth over the past three decades has created a sizable middle class in China. "Over the next 10 years, the quickly expanding middle-class group will play a crucial role in China's economy. They will help boost domestic demand through purchasing, thus reducing China's economic dependence on external demand," said Wong.
Discretionary spending accounts for 73 percent of disposable income for those with annual incomes of between $25,000 and $50,000 in urban China, compared with 30 percent for those whose income ranges from $6,000 to $25,000.
The survey also showed that modern women have a much higher consumption appetite. Around 85 percent of modern women have purchased luxury goods, followed by the middle class at 76 percent and DINKs at 75 percent.
Only 34 percent of modern women have not traveled overseas, followed by the middle class at 46 percent and DINKs at 52 percent.