With a recent increase in disposable income among the upper class in China. These upper class consumers can now be identified by a number of traits. First, due to their increase in disposable income, many are seeking experiences that are different from those available in the mass market.
Second, in China consumers treat the product and services they purchase as a means of showing one’s social reputation. For example in China, female consumers consider clothing as a symbolic medium to demonstrate one’s social status or express one’s social image.
Third, the typical Chinese consumer is increasingly self-indulgent, seeking products and offerings that cater to his or her personal gratification. For Chinese individuals traits such as achievement, stimulation and power are seen as more valuable in comparison to what the more collectivist individuals find more valuable, traits like conformity and tradition. It’s clear that with the economic growth in China more people will become more individualistic and materialistic.
To really see how the economic growth and the increase in disposable income are affecting the upper class consumers, we can take a closer look at the golfing industry. Like in the U.S, golf clubs in China all have well manicured grass, golf carts and well-dressed members. However when looking further in, these members aside from having caddies are served by host drivers, umbrella holders and even have their own personal waitresses. Rather than just drinking water these members treat themselves to beer and other alcoholic beverages. The additional features present in the golf industry match perfectly with the culture of those in the upper class with greater disposable income who self indulge and like to maintain impressions.
Very few people play golf in China, mostly only the country’s wealthy elite play. As China’s economy continues to grow and the wealth of the upper class continues to rise, so will the growth of the distinct golf culture in China, which could eventually have an impact on the golf culture globally.
Some products are widely accepted by cultures in certain regions while others are not. Companies’ pricing strategies may differ across various regions of the world depending on if their product is culture-bound or not. Think about visiting a foreign country with a different culture. The culture-bound products that are easily noticed include food, beverages and clothing. I’ll provide the example of Indonesia – a country consisting of 17,000 islands that I’ve spent about seven months traveling around over the past five years.
Indonesia is actually home to a wide-range of cultures with hundreds of different languages being spoken. The primary religion is Muslim, however, other religions such as Hinduism, Christianity and Animism can be found in different parts of the country. Typical dishes include rice or noodles, along with fish or chicken and mixed vegetables. These dishes are commonly served with a spicy chili sauce called sambal. While there I tried types of potato chips that I never imagined existed including: seaweed, cheese pizza and barbequed beef flavors. Beverages are somewhat similar to those found in the western world and include water, juices and soda. Alcohol is not consumed by many Indonesians because it is not seen as acceptable in many of the Islamic areas. Clothing can be very different with people on remote islands such as the Mentawais wearing tribal outfits that look similar to what Native American Indians once wore. While differences in these three product groups may be obvious to the casual onlooker, many other types of products are prevalent which are not as common Western countries.
One product that is widely accepted in parts of Indonesia are cigarettes. Locals can be seen chain-smoking cigarettes as they represent a product that can be easily afforded by the masses. Western countries often put higher taxes on cigarettes because of the damage they do to the human body which ultimately translates into a high burden on the public health system. In Indonesia, however, a pack of cigarettes can be purchased for a dollar or less and due to low education levels, many cigarette users are not aware of how harmful the effects can be.
Another product group that I noticed being widely accepted by Indonesians was social media sites/applications. I met many teenage Indonesians that had used social media platforms such as Facebook for digital marketing purposes. Many of the times, the platforms were being used to advertise or promote a family business. People who had started little three room homestays for surfers were constantly posting new content to advertise their business all over the world. Figuring out what kinds of products are likely to be accepted by a foreign culture is no easy task. Values, customs, beliefs and type of lifestyle will all dictate whether a product becomes widely accepted or simply passed by.
For the last five to ten years, the day after Thanksgiving has been the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States. Big Box retailers open early with sales promotions that offer incredible savings enticing consumers to wait in long lines for hours on end. According to Fundivo – Black Friday Statistics, there were 141 million people shopping on Black Friday in 2013 and they spent about $57.4 billion. That’s nearly half the U.S. population! Now the tradition is spreading abroad. How have retailers continued to attract such an astounding number of consumers year after year?
The answer is promotional advertising, but be warned—the deals may not be as sweet as they sound. “Doorbuster” deals are one of the powerful advertising tactics that stores use. These are commonly used to advertise big-ticket items like flat screen TVs at unbeatable low prices. Offering these items at prices close to cost gets shoppers into the store where almost everything else is priced at normal margins. While some shoppers are able to obtain a big-ticket item, add-ons, installations and accessories often outweigh the savings they thought they were getting. Advertisements usually imply that only a limited quantity of an item will be available or that each customer may only purchase a set amount. This implied scarcity makes people think they have the opportunity to get something special, but it’s usually nothing more than a deceptive marketing tactic.
Unfortunately, most consumers who make the investment to wake up early, drive to a mall and wait in a long line outside a store just don’t know when to quit. Putting in all that extra effort translates into consumers who actually become inclined to purchase more than they initially intended. Consumers should recognize when they find themselves in an unprofitable situation, what economists refer to as a sunk cost, and cut their losses. This, however, is hardly the case on Black Friday. Most shoppers figure that since they already did all that work to get into the store, they might as well spend a little extra. The emotional investment causes people to overlook flaws an item may have and further rationalize expensive purchases.
Thanksgiving is mostly an American holiday so it is interesting that the tradition of shopping on Black Friday has started to spread abroad. Canadians had been traveling into the U.S. for Black Friday deals until retailers in Canada started to run their own promotions to entice shoppers to keep their spending at stores within the country. Recently, the United Kingdom, India and Brazil have started offering Black Friday discounts. Could this increasing interest abroad be a signal that all consumers, regardless of nationality, may be susceptible to the Black Friday hype?
Studying consumer behavior means attempting to understand decision-making processes that buyers go through as they select a product or service for purchase. Over the past month, many consumers have been going through this process in order to acquire one of the new Apple iPhones. Typically, people start by asking themselves if the iPhone 6 models offer enough new features above what is included on the older models to justify an upgrade. Next comes the hard part –weather to purchase the iPhone 6 or the iPhone 6 Plus. This is a purchasing decision Apple is surely interested in understanding as sales of the 6 Plus produce a higher profit margin for the tech giant.
When examining why a consumer would want to purchase either of the new iPhones it’s easy to recognize the advancements and features that persuade a purchase. Bigger screens, faster A8 processors and longer battery life are all important. Some other enhanced features that may entice consumers sitting on the fence include optimal image stabilization, 1080p (HD) video recording, WiFi calling and Apple Pay. While both versions of the new phone work well, the 6 Plus has some advantages. For instance the 5.5 inch full HD display makes it the better choice for consuming content and the larger battery enables it to hold a charge for multiple days. In deciding which phone to purchase it is really up to the individual to think about what they will use the phone for most. Those who predominantly use their phones to call and text might choose the regular iPhone 6. People who spend a lot of the time on their phones consuming digital content may want think about picking up the 6 Plus.
In the United States, people still seem to prefer the regular iPhone 6 over the Plus model. The 4.7 inch iPhone has accounted for about 62% of domestic iPhone sales while the 5.5 inch Plus model has accounted for about 24% of domestic iPhone sales. What about consumers in different countries around the world? European smartphone preferences look to be somewhat aligned with those in the US. In China, however, consumers have already caught on to the growing “Phablet” trend. In the first quarter of 2014, for example, larger “phablet-style” phones already made up close to 40% of smartphone sales. Results from a recent digital consumer survey by Accenture show that 66% of potential smartphone buyers in China would prefer to buy a “phablet.” Apple had a production priority in China where the regular sized iPhone was being produced in greater numbers. Due to the greater adoption rates of the 6 Plus, they are attempting to speed up production of the larger model to meet higher than expected demand in the region. As the rollout of the new iPhones continues around the world it will be interesting to see which cultures favor each model. If Apple is able to more accurately predict consumer behavior in each country it enters with the new phones it will be able to systematically meet varying demands and ultimately boost future margins.
As the world becomes more advanced and developed, middle classes from India and China are beginning to consume larger amounts of protein which requires more herds of animals. These animals harm the environment and cause climate change. They also consume a large portion of food that could be used for a better cause. So what is the new substitute? Insects.
Many international chefs have tried to introduce insect eating to the Western culture but have failed to entice Americans, but four students from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College in London are approaching the issue differently. They see the problem as a design issue: How do you make bugs more appealing? This London-based startup called, “Ento” (derived from the Japanese “bento”) wants to “squash” Westerners’ aversion to eating insects.
So how do you get Americans to eat insects? Their approach is to take presentational cues from sushi—such as bite-sized pieces and cubes placed into bento boxes. Some of their menu items include honey caterpillar rolls which is comprised of fried wax worms, that taste like pistachios, flattened like tamago (egg omelet), thenwrapped around chopped carrots and radish. Buffalo caterpillar bread cube is a mix of powdered buffalo worms and bread ingredients. Grasshopper mini-pie includes fresh thyme, coriander seed, sea salt, and minced locust to create a salty meaty texture. Overall, insects seem to be a great substitute for daily protein. The four students write that bugs are, “much more space and energy efficient than traditional livestock and will happily eat and the crops we don’t want” they are also “high in protein, low in fat and cholesterol, and rich in nutrients like omega-3”.
Co-founder, Jonathan Fraser and his colleagues held a public tasting last summer. He explains that, “people thought the food would look weird and scary” but it went well. Fraser says that, “We changed their expectations.” Their next step is to hopefully open a restaurant, making bug bentos available, worldwide.