The rapid economic growth and consequent changes taking place in China in recent years have attracted much international interest. Wu asserts that this international attention is not only because China has a prospect of becoming the world’s biggest economy within a short time span, but also due to the potential purchasing power of its large population (1). This population, which is estimated to be 1.2 billion, is majorly composed of the middle class citizens who have a high purchasing power.
According to Li, this distinct middle class in China was non-existent two decades ago (China’s Emerging Middle Class 10). In these earlier years, the motive of the government was to create a unified society in which all citizens are equal. In point of fact, the government controlled the consumer culture by dictating which products are consumed and which ones are not.
In Gerth’s perspective, the consumption trend at this time was directed by the slogan ‘Chinese ought to consume products made in China’ (4). Furthermore, the consumers at this time tended to be frugal preferring to save more and spend less of their incomes. The commencement of globalization transformed China from this ethnocentric consumer culture to consumerism by presenting a plethora of product choices the world was anxious to offer the Chinese consumer. According to Davis, globalization in addition led to the emergence of a spendthrift middle class, freed from the restrictive consumption pattern that the government had programmed them to follow (77). This paper discusses the consumer culture phenomena in China and how it affects the middle class.
The Chinese Consumer Culture Phenomena
The runaway developments taking place in China has seen the incomes for most people soar especially in the coastal provinces of China. According to Croll, these coastal provinces forms the heartland for the growing Chinese middle class, which presently numbers 100 million (31). Despite the fact that this economic boom has exacerbated regional disparities, new consumer classes have arisen. The types of consumers in China are (1) Blue-collar factory workers, (2) The pink-collar flight attendants, secretaries, and other service workers, (3) White-collar office workers, (4) and the gold-collar executives working in the multi-national corporations across China.
According to Brandt and Rawski, globalization and the increased abundance of money has led to the emergence of another category of middle class consumers known as the monetary elite (35). This emergent monetary elite is classified as Dan shen qui zu, Bo pu zu, Yue guang zu, and You pi. Weightman defines the Dan shen qui zu as referring to the “single aristocrats” most of whom are women over the age of thirty or are working as bankers or managers for foreign firms (312). These women often purchase high-end clothing and use a lot of cosmetics like Shisido and Lancome. This category of middle class citizens can afford to take beach vacations on their own with their friends.
Bo pu zu on the other hand refers to the well-off intellectuals who indulge in studies and books. Yue guang zu is the category of middle-class earners who spend their money as fast as possible. This category is often considered as the “tapped-out class” (Weightman 312). The You pi or yuppies are also known as the xiao zi or the “little capitalists” workers, are the category of middle class citizens who own apartments and cars and spend their off-hours in cafes.
Apart from this classification, the Chinese consumers can also be categorized as pragmatic, commercialized, sociable or conservative (Brandt and Rawski 38). This classification is based upon information acquisition, attitudes in life, purchasing style, and economic and social factors. The pragmatic consumer seeks practical aspects of the consumer goods he requests to purchase and ignores its commercial information. This consumer category forms 50.8% of all consumers in China. This consumer category is only interested in the functional attribute of the products they purchase. This consumer type represents the central command economy where consumers are used to fixed prices, low incentives and do not use commercial information.
Consumers in the pragmatic group are described as being sensitive to value for money and usually possess a clear idea of, which functional features of products merit higher prices. Pragmatic-type consumers are generally thrifty and adhere to Chinese traditional values. Pragmatic-type consumers were common during the periods preceding Deng Xiaoping’s economic revolution. According to Vogel, this time period saw consumer culture being used as a tool to promote nationalism and patriotism (39). National products and brands were introduced during this time era and their consumption was viewed as a sign of patriotism. Shoppers who stocked and sold locally manufactured products were given preferential treatment by the government. Shoppers and consumers who consumed foreign products were considered unpatriotic since they were going against the maxim that stated that Chinese ought to consume goods made in China (Gerth 4).
In order to encourage patriotism in the consumer culture the government supplied Chinese products ranging from fashion, food additives, and electronics among others in its departmental stores and museums. Additionally goods were clearly branded as “foreign” or “Chinese” with the consumption of the former being highly discouraged (Gerth 4). In essence, the government totally dictated every product that was being consumed by the citizens.
The other category of middle class consumer is the commercialized type consumer. The commercialized consumer-type emerged at the onset of liberation and globalization when consumerism began to be embraced as nationalized consumption began to loose meaning. This consumer type pursues brand name products and is more concerned with the product’s commercial information. This consumer category has better brand awareness and often compares products and services actively on the basis of the available commercial information. The commercialized-type consumers characterize the market economy after the period of reforms. Li asserts that this category is bound to increase in line with the economic developments taking place in China (“CHINA IN 2000” 45). This consumer category additionally comprises of the white-collar workers, the young and the better educated.
The sociable consumer gets information about products mostly from friends and relatives. This consumer category is mostly happy and satisfied with his current life. The conservative consumer on the other hand, resents commercial information and dislikes social changes. This consumer category prefers the society to be static rather than change since they are never willing to change their life. This consumer category mostly comprises of the older portion of the population who want to return to their past times when things were better.
The current trend in consumer behavior has seen more consumers moving towards becoming commercialized consumers. Initially, the aspect of seeking after commercial information and loyalty to specific brands were not the norm in the Chinese consumer market given that the government dictated everything that was being consumed. Loyalty to national brands was highly encouraged, while foreign brands were negatively publicized and any one who consumed them could be cajoled out of them or mocked. According to Gerth, Chinese were required to boycott any foreign product and traders who stocked foreign goods were forced to part with hefty fines and bear the harassment from local officials (1).
The government at this period of time, probably 1910s to 1930s was rather unstable and preferred nationalizing consumer culture as a mechanism of developing and extending nationalism in the Chinese nation. Nationalism in this period of time defined consumerism and consumerism was also defined by nationalism. Nationalism further patterned a burgeoning consumer culture through applying the groupings of ‘national’ or ‘foreign’ to all commodities. This in effect created the impression of ‘treasonous’ or ‘patriotic’ commodities.
Li perceives that the modern day Chinese consumer has embraced consumerism, which has been encouraged by the Deng economic reforms and the onset of globalization (“CHINA IN 2000” 84). Consumerism enables the Chinese to make a free choice on what he would consume from a plethora of choices. Consumerism in addition allows the consumers to embrace a variety of new services, products, and brands with ease. Consumerism has its origin in the west where majority of the consumers tend to consume more than what they possess with a hope of paying of the debt incurred at a future date. The Chinese unlike the western consumers initially preferred consuming less and saving more given that they were more of conservatives in their consumption patterns.
This saving pattern is further emphasized by Gerth who asserts that the average Chinese used to save nearly 30% of their household income (54). This rate in the western nations and the United States would be considered amazing and absurd since they save an average of one to two percent of their incomes. Wu claims that this saving and parsimonious culture developed because of China’s unstable economic and political history which exposed China to extreme levels of poverty (84). In this respect, Chinese are thrifty in their spending because they want to save much and shield themselves from poverty and medical problems especially after their retirement. This saving culture is further motivated by the poor safety net that comprises of the health care coverage system and the pension scheme.
The Middle Class Category in China
Li asserts that the concept of middle class began to be used in China in the late 1980s after the implementation of the reform and opening up policy (“CHINA IN 2000” 34). The middle class category in China has been referred to as the category of citizens who have their own capital to invest in. in Lis’s view, the Chinese middle class refers to a group of people who productively contribute to the making of new lifestyles and commercial mores (“CHINA IN 2000” 104). He additionally accords the middle class group in China the name, middle-income earners. The concept and idea of middle class originated from the West where it referred to a bourgeoisie or a social stratum that does not have a clear definition but lies between the upper and lower classes.
This social stratum consists of professional people, businessmen, teachers, and nurses, among others together with their families. The middle class are marked by bourgeois values. The middle class category was non-existent in earlier China but recently, the existence of a robust middle class in this nation has been noticed. Croll defines the middle class as a group of ordinary people that falls between the rich and the poor categories (101).
Furthermore, the most distinct aspect of the middle class people is their state of mind where acquaintance and fiscal repute characterizes their values and approach to life. In the Mao era, the middle class category did not exist given that Mao aimed at creating a unified China without any economic or social class, where the government provided absolutely everything to its citizens.
This middle class is growing at an accelerated pace despite the fact that a growing number of researchers are raising questions about who actually make up China’s middle class, and what their disposable income truly means. In this respect, a comprehensible and perfect meaning of China’s middle class has not been easy to obtain, particularly at this moment when its economy has become full-fledged and ranks the second in the globe. The clear definition of a working class is further hampered by the fact that the World Bank still classifies ten percent of China’s population as poverty stricken. Clark argues this info is in harmony with the China’s Ministry of Commerce’s report produced in the year 2010, which came clean that slightly over 150 million Chinese citizens subsist under the universal poverty line of one dollar in a day (78).
Therefore, the Chinese’s two dollars daily proceeds earned by the middle class are nearer to the impecunious group rather than the average faction. In fact, highly regarded scholars have extremely differed as regards the number of people who fall under the Chinese middle class, their capacity as well as their buying power and the ramifications associated with it. Nevertheless, China has its own revenue standard of defining its middle class or middle income group. For example, china’s State Statistics Bureau stated that the middle class revenue standard ranges from 60,000 to 500,000 Yuan in 2005 (Wagner 1). Basing an argument on these figures can give an assumption that a near twenty percent of households fell in the middle class group.
New-fangled characterizations of what forms the Chinese middle class vary greatly, from a tenth to nearly fifty percent of the Chinese populace. A research survey performed in 2007 by Goldman Sachs Group discovered that only 100 million Chinese buyers can technically fall under the middle class (Schoppa 37). This study further estimated this figure to rise to 650 million by 2015.
During the same year, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicted that it could take around 5 years or so, before the number of people who fall in the middle class can reach a billion (Schoppa 37). Furthermore, the ADB defined the Chinese middle class as consisting of individuals who earn between two dollars a day and nineteen dollars a day in income. Using these values, the people who fall under the middle class could have been close to 2 billion in 2008, and this figure accounts for virtually 56% of the Asian populace.
Consistent with these figures, the Chinese middle class accounted for 60% of the nation’s population and were in the region of 800 million in number. Grouping people who earner two dollars daily in the middle class is actually ridiculous given that the amount if barely sufficient to buy a chicken burger in the country. Moreover, that amount is inadequate for simple needs such as electricity and water. Additionally, the international standards specify that for a person to fall in the middle class category, he has to have a daily income of between $4 and $6 (Wagner 1). Due to this absurdity, ADB divided the middle class into several categories of lower, middle, and upper-middle class. The lower middle-class earn from two to four dollars a day, the middle-middle class earn from four to ten dollars a day, and the upper-middle class earn from ten to twenty dollar a day.
ADB also describes the well heeled Chinese or the upper class as individuals who rake in twenty dollars per day on the lower side, which adds up to 7,300 US dollars per year. This affluent populace consists of 44.8 million residing in the urban areas and 11.1 million residing in China’s rural areas. The Chinese Academy of social Sciences on the other hand defines the middle class in China as people who use 30-37.3% of their income on food (Li 34). This definition further states that, people in households with a per-capita yearly disposable income of 16,300 Yuan to 37,300 Yuan fall in this category.
Despite the fact that the definition of the middle class in China is rather relative and vague, the number of people belonging to this category is rising. A survey performed in 2010 by Brookings Institution predicted that the number of people who make up the middle class in the Asian continent is projected to augment from 28% in 2009 to 67percent by 2030, which is an increase of 236 percent in a span of only two decades (Wagner 1). This statement also hypothesizes that the Chinese middle class is anticipated to be composed of more people not only because of the rate of China’s fiscal growth, but also owing to the fact that more people are set to get out of their poverty status. It is expected that by 2030, the percentage of Chinese making more than ten dollars a day should rise to 74% from the present day 11%.
A research done in 2006 by the China National Research Association (CNRA) came up with six criteria for establishing elements that determine the Chinese middle class status. According to Li, this criterion is based on education, profession, salary, savings, societal influence, and holidays (90). In this respect, it has been argued that income alone is not the most important criterion for determining class status. For example, not all people who earn US$ 2,600 to $6,430, who definitely qualify to fall in the upper class category meet the criterion to be in the middle class group. This is because it has to be shown whether they own property, they can afford regular holidays, or their consumption pattern is in line with the middle income category ratings.
According to Wagner, a proper definition of the middle class is expected to include criteria like, consumption patterns, career type, living standards, and the ability to have a voice and reputation in the society (1). If these criteria are considered when defining the Chinese middle class, the statistics would be much smaller than what ADB estimated. Even though China has made great accomplishments in its scuffle to improve the lives of its poor citizens, it has not made comparable advancements in structuring the middle class. A comprehensive urbanization course of action and a functional civil society are needed to institute an indisputable middle class.
Despite the fact that the Asian middle class people have significantly lower spending and income than their Western counterparts, their growth in expenditure has been remarkable. China’s consumption of luxury products has grown rapidly and it could be the reason why most people mistakenly believe that most Chinese citizens are middle class. The definition of middle class in other countries is totally different from the Chinese perspective. The United States for example, believes that middle class category should comprise of people who earn between four dollars to six dollars per day. In the American perspective, the middle class is defined by occupation and income, and comprises of households having an annual income of between $40,000 and $200,000 (Wagner 1).
The middle class accounts for nearly eighty percent of the American population. The United States’ middle class enjoy a relatively stable housing, educational opportunities for their children from elementary to college levels, healthcare, and a reasonable retirement schemes and job security. Furthermore, they enjoy a discretionary income that can be utilized on leisure pursuits and vacation. According to Li, this middle class is defined by consumerism and a constant up-scaling of lifestyle standards. In addition this middle class category is willing to pay more for additional quality (90).
The middle class in the United States is hardly considered a special faction in view of the fact that a greater part of the US citizens believe they fall under this category. Contrastingly, the Chinese middle class are seen by citizens as a high-status group, which many aspire to belong to. People who fall under this class are expected by the society to live a lavish life and to be well-mannered. Even as the American middle class families would rather live in the suburbs, their Chinese counterparts fancy living in downtown areas or close to the central business district.
In Germany, the middle income class consists of households having an annual income of between $30,000 and $800,000, which accounts for fifty-five percent of the population. In Brazil the middle class constitute nearly forty-nine percent of the total population.
The Chinese middle class are expected to portray certain characters unique from other social classes. For example, they are expected to be driven by the desire and goal to realize their own worth, they are required to own a car, an apartment, and a saving that is more than six times their income (Brandt and Rawski 38). In addition they are expected to be people who travel a lot and have at least one vacation every year. On top of that, they are expected to engage in relaxation activities such as having fancy feasts in classy restaurants and going to cinemas. Furthermore, the Chinese National Bureau of statistics (CNBS) requires them to have yearly income of nearly sixty thousand to five hundred thousand Yuan (Gerth 148). China has several categories of middle classes, which differ from province to province depending on income among other factors.
In the western province of Qinghai earning sixty thousand Yuan, qualifies one to belong to the middle class group (Brandt and Rawski 38). In Beijing on the other hand, sixty thousand Yuan is viewed as basic, and any one earning it does not necessarily qualify to be treated as a middle class citizen. Furthermore, the middle class citizens in China’s major cities are known for accumulating vast debts as they strive to pay for their residential apartments. This class category is also known for their fear of taking time off work for illness, since doing so will cost them their occupations. China’s middle class is also fragile given that the social security system that covers them is suboptimal, and could be the reason why most people in China refuse to be identified with this class.
Mainland China on the other hand, uses three criteria to classify its citizens as middle class, which is, income, occupation, consumption, and education. The middle class person should be a person that holds a professional or managerial occupation, a businessman, intellectual elite, or a manager with a very high income that can facilitate consumption in Mainland China. The middle class citizen is additionally required to possess higher education certification. He or she should also afford luxurious cars and other expensive products.
Mainland China in addition has three types of middle-class citizens depending on the economic, political and social factors. These types are the new middle class, the old middle class and the marginal middle class (Brandt and Rawski 38). The new middle class are the professionals, managers and the capitalists, the old middle class are the small owners of firms, and businesses, and the marginal middle class are the routine workers. The other components of the class structure in Mainland China are the capitalists and the working class. The capitalists are an important part of mainland China’s middle class, that represents the private entrepreneurs and symbolize the arising of the middle class. The middle class in mainland china can be summarized as a mixture of four groups having different economic condition, socio-political function and social status. These groups are the capitalist class, the new middle class, the old middle class, and the marginal middle class (Brandt and Rawski 39).
According to Li, the accelerated growth in China has paralleled the materialization of a new urban middle class (96). Li asserts that presently, fourteen percent of the present Chinese population belongs to the middle class category (96). The citizens in this category are economically stable, well advanced in education, and are no longer engaged in industrial or agricultural production. Rather, they are involved in service production and have an outward and the modern looking world view. In addition, they are optimistic about the dazzling opportunities that are availed ahead of them. This new middle class signifies China as a consumer society given that its purchasing power brings durable electric and electronic equipment, cars, international and national tourism travelling, meat-based diets, and large houses within the reach of the people.
This unique purchasing power of the middle class is seen in the growth in car sales that has been experienced during the past decade where a rise of twenty to thirty percent has been experienced each year. This increase has made China the largest energy user in the world and the biggest car producer. In addition, it has made millions of Chinese to move away from the poverty margins, and move into the cities to make more money. This means that the demand for goods is rising in China, and companies all over the world are seeing it as an opportunity and a market for their goods.
The new middle class emerging in China is growing and for the first time people are seen buying cars and other expensive goods. In addition they have washing machines, refrigerators, clothes dryers, and electric ovens. These goods were rare in China nearly twenty years ago. Furthermore a new service economy is rising in China identified with the middle class. For the first time people are using video stores, stock brokers, internet cafes, insurance companies , travel agents, real estate agents, and repair services.
These businesses have a big and a growing market, which is greatly composed by the middle class. In addition, more middle class families in China can now afford to send their children abroad for education, with their children making up a larger part of the university classes in Europe and the United States.
These students will end up as engineers, computer programmers, doctors and business executives. After their graduation, many of them will bring their skills home to China and increase the middle class category. Furthermore the modern day middle class Chinese worker can afford to travel abroad, spend their money in foreign cities, shop for souvenirs, visit restaurants, rent hotel rooms, and purchase new clothes.
Effect of Consumer Culture Phenomena on the Middle Class
The consumer culture in China can be categorized as having drifted towards consumerism from a conservatisms consumer phenomenon. Initially, China was viewed as producer and an exporter of consumer products rather than a consumer. Lately, this trend has changed and China is currently perceived as a consumer of absolutely everything that the world offers from fast moving consumables like beer and wine to electronics like mobile phones (Schoppa 67). The increasing number of middle class population has encouraged and motivated the growth of this consumerism culture, having being promoted by the move of the Chinese government to embrace and encourage a culture of consumption among the citizens.
According to Davis, the Chinese government has of recent taken measures to stimulate its internal consumer demand market (76). This move was stimulated by the fact that Chinese products had already saturated the external markets especially the western world and left it with fewer unexploited opportunities. In effect, the Chinese producer industry lacked new external markets to turn to but its own massive population to ensure its continual economic growth. Additionally, the present worldwide financial crisis has forced the Western producers to take advantage of China’s enormous population as a potential market. These factors together with others have resulted into the creation of a unique consumer culture that has transformed the traditional and conservative consumption trends of the Chinese middle class.
According to Davis, a number of factors have led to the reduction of China’s exports to the United States by 26% in 2006 (78). This reduction has led to the development of strategies of getting the thrifty Chinese population to start spending. Among these strategies was the government announcement to pump $590 billion stimulus package into the economy and offer a 13% rebate on all electronics to the rural area consumers. Furthermore, the present economic booms has transformed the high saving patterns of the Chinese middle class families and a number of them are steadily acquiring more gadgets as they experience increases in their household incomes.
Additionally, China’s rapid economic developments have given rise to a remarkable cross-generational disparity and created a less parsimonious generation who do not fear spending. This generation which is composed of mainly youths under below the age of thirty-five is unlike the earlier conservative and frugal generation. They have flouted the saving culture instituted during the Cultural Revolution era and embraced a spendthrift culture. This generation of spenders was created by China’s one policy, which enabled them to be raised up by several adults and gave them an exposure to a large margin of spending (Davis 77). In their later life, this age bracket relentlessly discovered the global market by browsing the internet and a lot of foreign media for topical global fashions.
This spendthrift generation signifies the rising affluent Chinese population, which is in total contrast to the impoverished lifestyle that the Chinese in the rural regions live in. The present consumption pattern is rather unique, with majority off the Chinese associating themselves with the various product attributes. For instance, autos are linked to American and European products while Asian countries such as Japan and Korea are well known for household electrical devices. Furthermore, despite the embrace of consumerism, the Chinese still show loyalty to the locally made brands. However, they are also flexible as shown by their tendency to explore foreign brands, especially when they are accessible to them in their local purchasing outlets.
The middle class Chinese consumer additionally follows a trade up consumer type of behavior. According to Davis this tendency is exhibited by consumers in Western China, and among consumers falling within the age categories of twenty to thirty years (80). This tendency is motivated by the desire and willingness to improve standards of living rather than the rise in purchasing power.
Davis argues that most Chinese trade up because of practical reasons, rather than pre-empted emotional exclusivity or satisfaction (81). The tittle-tattle associated with products is more crucial in the Chinese market compared to use of advertising media. In fact, Chinese buyers would rather buy what they hear from their peers and not the products that have been advertised.
Additionally, this new generation of middle class consumers has set their minds on the high end of the Chinese market in which case they are increasingly seeking after the luxury market. The previous generations did not fancy consumption of luxuries. On the contrary they viewed the luxury market as a waste of money, which could have been saved. This rush for luxuries among the modern day middle class consumer reflects a standard of excellence, shows reputation and exclusivity, and marks their desire for status. This class does not fear to flaunt the money on luxurious items in order to attain the desired reputation and status. Furthermore, this generation has embraced a corporate culture of gift giving in which expensive luxurious items are given out as gifts for the purpose of building good business associations. This use of luxurious gifts has increase luxurious in times spending in China and has lifted it to being the second largest luxury market in the world (Li 157).
Apart from the preference of luxurious items, the Chinese consumer prefers to do most of his transaction on a cash basis. Credit cards and checks are not commonly used. Additionally, most of the consumers in this nation lack bank accounts and in this respect, prefer stashing away their cash under blankets, mattresses, or in closets. Haggling, deal making and bargaining forms part of the lifestyle of the Chinese consumer.
Bargaining, squabbling, and haggling are trends among these consumers and are frequently seen between customers and vendors, employees and employers, and even in minute purchases. The Chinese middle class consumer is never a big consumer or spender since China consumes on 50% of what it produces. Statistics show that the consumption by individual household comprises of only 37% of China’s GDP which apparently, is the smallest consumption index of any significant economy today.
Additionally, the Chinese consumer has a higher affinity for new products and a trend has been observed in which new products receive acceptance even before their predecessors have succeeded in penetrating the market. Moreover, sixty percent of the consumers often accompany themselves with a shortlist of their preferred brands each time they plan to buy a product. In this respect consumers often are wary whenever they are planning to buy new or unfamiliar products. Ethnocentric tendencies are still existent especially among the older generations who prefer their own domestic brands to foreign ones.
The effect of the consumer culture phenomena on the middle class is seen in the sense that it will impede the nations overall development. This is because the urban areas are highly populated by the rich whereas the rural areas are populated by the relatively poor. In this respect, increased consumption is only experienced in the urban centers whereas the rural areas register minimal consumption. This disparity in consumption between these two regions results into wealth and income differences between the poor, the middle class, and the rich.
This difference will lead to an increase in the cost of living for the middle income class. Secondly from this papers’ discussion, China had moved from an investment-directed economy to a consumer-centered model. This shift has resulted into continuous economic growth that has seen the expansion of China’s middle class which has been approximated to clock 76% by 2025. Additionally a culture of consumerism has been embraced followed by the implementation of policies that are geared towards encouraging the citizens to consumer more of Chinese products. These policies are bound to force the current income-burdened middle class to increase their consumption rates.
The increased consumption levels will consequently transform China from a country of paucity and penny-pinching to one directed by consumer ethos and demands. Eventually the Chinese middle class consumer who has been viewed as following a culture of frugality and ever saving will be transformed to a big spender. In essence the new cultural trend of consumerism will transform the middle class Chinese into a spender and consequently change China from its spectacular poor perception into an enviably rich nation.
In conclusion china’s population, which is estimated to be 1.2 billion, is majorly composed of the middle class citizens who have a high purchasing power. Though there are varying definitions and arguments concerning who actually qualifies to be a middle class in China this category are increasing at a rapid rate. This class was non existent at around two years ago when the present government had the aim of doing away with all social and economic classes in order to have a unified China. The government controlled the consumer culture and any act of consumerism or consumption of foreign products was highly discouraged.
Additionally, consumers became fringy, preferring to save as much a thirty percent of their incomes due to the political and economic instabilities that had pushed them to near pauperism. The commencement of globalization and the start of liberation came with consumerism that transformed the Chinese consumer culture from frugality and ethnocentrism to consumerism. Additionally the runaway developments and the economic boom taking place in China further help to change this frugal consumer culture. In line with these developments and changes in consumer culture, a new breed of middle income earners has emerged in China. These middle income earners have been identified as, pragmatic, commercialized, sociable, or conservative with most of the consumers today moving towards a commercialized perspective.
This category is estimated to be nearly one hundred million and earning from $2 to $4 per day. The middle class consumers are expected to grow due to the increased economic growth being experienced in china and the embracement of a consumerism culture. This middle class category is unlike the past generations in that they are more spendthrift and do not fear spending expensively on luxurious items. This new trend of consumers show a preference in exploring foreign products, do most of their transactions on cash basis, and have a tendency to haggle or bargain in early all negotiations.
Brandt, Loren and Thomas Rawski. China’s Great Economic Transformation. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008. Print.
Clark, Paul. The Chinese Cultural Revolution: A History. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008. Print.
Croll, Elisabeth J. China’s New Consumers: Social Development and Domestic Demand. London: Routledge, 2006. Print.
Davis, Deborah. The Consumer Revolution in Urban China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. Print.
Gerth, Karl. China Made: Consumer Culture and the Creation of the Nation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2004. Print.
Li, Cheng. China’s Emerging Middle Class beyond Economic Transformation. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2010. Print.
—. “CHINA IN 2000: A Year of Strategic Rethinking.” Asian Survey 41.1 (2001): 71-90. Web. 2012.
Schoppa, Keith. Twentieth Century China: A History in Documents. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2004. Print.
Vogel, Ezra. Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2011. Print.
Wagner, Daniel. “China’s Ubiquitous Mid-Class.” Huff Post World. Huffington Post Press, 2010. Web.
Weightman, Barbara. Dragons and Tigers: A Geography of South, East, and Southeast Asia. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Print.
Wu, Yanrui. China’s Consumer Revolution: the Emerging Patterns of Wealth and Expenditure. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 1999. Print.