Figures published today by global research consultancy TNS, provide an insight into the mood of the Chinese consumer as they approach Chinese New Year. The findings show a desire to celebrate and excitement for the year ahead, balanced by financial concerns.
The study of 5,000 Asian consumers in Greater China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia from TNS, a WPP company (WPP:NASDAQ) finds a mood of optimism, with three quarters of people feeling good about the year ahead. This peaks in China, where 88 percent of people feel positively as we enter the Year of the Snake.
Across the region, people are making plans, with over a third of people intending to travel to a new country. There’s a healthy outlook for the automotive market, with many people across the region planning to buy a new car in the year ahead – and this is a particularly common goal for those in China. Buying a new house and changing jobs are also part of the plans for a quarter of those surveyed.
While there is no intention to stop spending, this is tempered by concern over the global economic outlook, felt by a third of people. And whilst the big picture is important, it’s people’s own finances that emerged as the top concern for the New Year, with 44 percent concerned about budget constraints, ahead of fears about health.
Chris Bonsi, CEO Greater China at TNS said: “Chinese New Year is undoubtedly a time for celebration and consumers are still showing confidence in their spending and plans for the year ahead. There is a real awareness of slowing growth at home and continued financial instability; however the current prospects remain good.”
Despite any concerns, giving gifts remains important for three quarters of people who will be buying presents for friends and family at New Year. When it comes to the gifts they want to receive themselves, gadgets are increasingly popular and are the second most desired gift across the region, with 13 percent hoping to receive electronics. However, money is the clear favourite for 59 percent of people who are looking forward to getting a ‘Red Packet’ gift of money from family this New Year.
While almost half of people are planning to spend their Red Packet on buying something nice for themselves, people across Asia demonstrate financial prudence. This is reflected in the 70 percent of people intending to save the money they receive and for the 14 percent of people who will prioritise paying off their debts.
“Saving is important here – increased consumer spending is as a result of increasing disposable incomes throughout the region, but is not at the expense of investing for the future,” says Bonsi.
Spending time with family is a key part of the celebration and almost three quarters of people want relatives and friends around during the holidays. A quarter of people will be sending greetings via social networks this year, however meeting in person is preferred by three quarters of those surveyed.
Traditional activities remain relevant across the generations, with young people are just as likely as their older relatives to want to have their fortune read in preparation for Chinese New Year. And following Reunion Dinner, families will spend time talking or playing games.
Chris Bonsi continued, “People are finding new ways to observe old customs, but the essence of Chinese New Year as a time for friends, family and celebration shows no sign of diminishing.”