Why are Chinese consumers spending more on smart gadgets?

According to a survey conducted by Gartner Consulting, the results show that consumers in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia do not show much interest in smart home gadgets. However, this is the opposite in China – there is a growing demand for smart home appliances.

Smart toilet seats from Japan caught on among wealthy Chinese after an article on it was published. In a January 2015 article, renowned Chinese business writer Wu Xiaobo described how his executive friends went on a shopping spree in Japan buying rice cookers, hair dryers, and even smart toilet seats.

And smart toilet seats continue to be a hot buy. Priced at RMB 2,000 (USD 290), the toilet seats are antibacterial and heat up toilet seats immediately.

The emerging smart gadget trend in China is fuelled by what domestic industry insiders call a “consumption upgrade”. They found that more Chinese consumers are willing to spend more money to enjoy better lifestyles with China’s fast economic growth in the last few years. More consumers are now willing to drive for miles to a nice Japanese ramen restaurant or drink premium brews at beer bars.

A premium brews beer bar in Beijing. Photo from the bar's Weibo
A premium brews beer bar in Beijing. Photo from the bar’s Weibo

Market research firm Nielsen published a report earlier this month on Chinese consumer behavior in 2016. Although China’s economic growth slowed down in 2016, the report stated that Chinese consumers’ willingness to buy goods continued to grow, reaching 53% in Q4 and topping all results in four years.

“Though China’s economy has stabilized in recent years, the confidence of Chinese consumers remains strong and positive,” said Vishal Bali, managing director of Nielsen China, in the report. “With incomes on the rise and unemployment remaining low, consumers are seeing a bright future and are willing to spend on premium products and life experiences.” said Vishal Bali, managing director of Nielsen.

Aside from the aforementioned toilet seats, mopping robots have also become increasingly popular among the new generation of Chinese consumers. As consumers in the country are moving towards online shopping platforms like Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall, mopping robot manufacturer iRobot launched promotion campaigns during the Singles’ Day shopping festival in November last year. This was after the brand saw a total sales figure of RMB 100 million on Singles’ Day in 2015.

Rising Chinese gadget manufacturers including Xiaomi have been gaining considerable market share with lower prices and competitive performance when compared with international brands.

Xiaomi’s founder Lei Jun said last December that the company has invested in 77 smart gadget startups in what the company calls the “Xiaomi Ecosystem”. These startups saw revenue at around RMB 15 billion (USD 2.2 billion) in 2016.

(Top photo from Pixabay.com)

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