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1、September 2020 Chinese captain/Getty Images Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail Practices The Chinese consumer: Resilient and confident In this podcast, two China-based McKinsey partners impart advice on how companies can succeed in Chinas fast-recovering consumer market. Even as many parts of the wo

2、rld continue to battle the COVID-19 crisis and its knock-on effects, much of China has reopened: people are going out, streets are bustling, and businesses have resumed almost- normal operations. In this episode of the McKinsey on Consumer and Retail podcast, McKinseys Felix Poh and Daniel Zipser di

3、scuss the present and future of the Chinese consumer sector. An edited transcript of their conversation with executive editor Monica Toriello follows. Podcast transcript Monica Toriello: Hello, everybody. Thanks for joining us today. On this episode, well be zooming in on a huge and growing part of

4、the consumer sector: the Chinese consumer market. China is the worlds second-largest economy, and Chinese consumers have grown in buying power for the past decade. And today, of course, much of the business world is looking to China for lessons on recovery, China being the first to experience the CO

5、VID-19 outbreak and the first to come out of lockdowns and reopen businesses, stores, restaurants, and so on. To talk to us today about China are two McKinsey partners who are based there and who have not only done a lot of research and analysis on the Chinese consumer but also work with many consum

6、er companies in China. First, we have Felix Poh, a partner based in the Shanghai office. Felix leads McKinseys work on consumer marketing and sales across Asia. Hi, Felix. Felix Poh: Hi, Monica. Glad to be here. Monica Toriello: Also joining us is Daniel Zipser, a senior partner based in Shenzhen. D

7、aniel leads McKinseys work in the consumer sector in Greater China. Thanks for being here, Daniel. Daniel Zipser: Good to be here, Monica. Monica Toriello: To start off this conversation, it would be great if you could situate us. Give us an overview of the state of the economy and, specifically, th

8、e consumer sector in China in mid-2020. Felix Poh: The word that comes to mind is resilience. When I survey the Chinese economy, when I talk to many of my consumer clients, they have made a near-full recovery in top line versus 2019. Obviously, it varies by sector, but in many cases, particularly fo

9、r my multinational clients, they are leading growth for their companies worldwide. And other markets are looking to China as that glimmer of hope, in terms of what the recovery could look like after the large- scale outbreak. So I would say, overall, its a hopeful place to be in China in mid-2020. D

10、aniel Zipser: If I were to pick one word to describe the state of the Chinese consumer, I would say, “confident.” I did find the last six months remarkableto see how, back when the crisis hit in late January, the whole country stood together. I was very touched. The consumer now is coming out of the

11、 crisis and feeling a sense of pride and confidence that they have mastered it as a country; many Chinese would say that China has mastered the crisis better than other places in the world. You do see a confidence, which is also translating into spending. Recent changes in consumer behavior Monica T

12、oriello: Resilience and confidencethose are very hopeful and inspiring words, especially hearing them as I sit here in the US, where the current situation is quite different. Many companies around the world are looking at the Chinese market as a reference pointas a sign of things to come in their ow

13、n geographic region. So lets talk a little bit about consumer behavior in China. What behavioral shifts have you seen happening in recent weeks and months? And which of those do you think are China- specific, versus which ones do you think will play out in other parts of the world in similar ways? F

14、elix Poh: I think the first thing to note when it comes to talking about shifts that we see in China and applicability to the rest of the world is the fact that the Chinese consumer is typically among the most optimistic in the world. They have largely not lived through a recession or a downturn, be

15、cause even in 20082009, that was quite muted within 2The Chinese consumer: Resilient and confident China. So I think that the rapid recovery and bounce- back that we see in China can be replicated in other markets, but we need to caveat that we are dealing with a very resilient, optimistic consumera

16、nd that may or may not be the case in other markets. What I see in terms of trends would be, absolutely, an accelerated shift to omnichannel and online. We saw that in online grocery retail, in apparel, in cosmetics. We saw the rise of what people term social commerce: an explosion in livestreaming

17、or selling through WeChat private-domain groups. We saw the rise of the at-home occasion, as people were restricted in their movement. They actually found, probably to their surprise, that they like spending time at home, cooking for themselves. We saw an increased health-and-wellness consciousness,

18、 which was already underway pre- pandemic and outbreak but really became more pronounced during the outbreak. I think here-to-stay trends are typically where behavior meets satisfaction. So in that vein, I expect online shopping and the acceleration and the increase that we saw in China to be here t

19、o stay, to persist, because service levels in China are high, the delivery speeds are quick, fulfillment is in a matter of hours, and consumers genuinely liked and appreciated the experience. And once youve signed up to a platform, once youve created a password, once youve set up a payment method, y

20、ou dont have to do it again. So thats an example of a trend that I think is here to stay. I contrast that, for instance, with certain parts of Europe where the infrastructure or the service levels are not as high and where delivery fulfillment is in a matter of weeks, not days or even hours. And in

21、those parts of Europe, for instance, I think there will be no increase in online shopping, because behavior does not meet satisfaction. Daniel Zipser: Let me highlight one more important difference between China and many other parts of the world. In China, even at the peak of the pandemic in Februar

22、y, the unemployment numbers were only lightly raisedby one percentage point. This is very different than in Europe or North America, where you actually do have a substantial increase in unemployment. Why does it matter? Because in the China context, back in February, people may not have been spendin

23、gnot based on a reduced income but because they were staying home and not going out to the shopping malls and the department stores. So in that respect, once the market opened up, this consumer was still employed, still had a good salary, may have even saved some money in February and March, and is

24、now out again and spending this money. I think this is something that is structurally different between China and other parts of the world. One other thing that is important to note is that none of the trends were seeing right now in China are actually new. If we would have spoken a year ago, we wou

25、ld have spoken about the same trends. The difference is that the Chinese consumer trends weve been seeing in the past year have been massively accelerated and amplified in importance. “The Chinese consumer is typically among the most optimistic in the world.” Felix Poh 3The Chinese consumer: Resilie

26、nt and confident Monica Toriello: A lot of what youve been talking about has been reflected in the consumer- sentiment surveys that McKinsey has been doing across 40-plus countries around the world, including China. Based on those surveys, youve divided the behavioral shifts into three categories de

27、pending on how sticky you expect them to be, and the three categories are, one, works for now; two, accelerated shifts; and three, potentially here to stay. And when I look at the behaviors in each of those categories, some of them arent surprising. For example, remote learning at home for children

28、is in the works-for-now category, because I think most parents want to see their kids back in school as soon as its safe; they dont want their kids at home, looking at the computer screen all day. But to me, some of the other categorizations were a little bit more surprisinglike, online fitness fall

29、s under “potentially here to stay.” Whats your take on some of these behavioral shifts? Are any of them surprising to you? Felix Poh: As the father of three children, I can heartily echo the sentiment of wanting them to go back to school as soon as is humanly possible. Its actually really fascinatin

30、g to look at what we think might stay and persist and what might not. What I think is going to persist is the rise of the at-home occasion. I think you typically had a Chinese consumer who enjoyed going out, who enjoyed going to mallsyou know, we talk about “retail- tainment.” I do think that throug

31、h this outbreak, what people found, even as they were “trapped” at home, is that they genuinely liked some of the activities at home. Obviously, there will be some reversion to the mean. People will go out again. They will go to malls. But I do think that the affinity for the at-home occasion has ri

32、sen and that companies will need to really be very thoughtful about how they tackle the different at-home occasions in order to continue to be successful going forward. Linked to that, for instance, would be online fitness. I do think its a trend. Of course, people will go back to gyms, but there is

33、 still a bit of a fear of large crowds. But I do think it goes back as well to what I said: if people tried a new action and the satisfaction levels were high enough, then that behavior likely sticks. Daniel Zipser: I think many of the things weve been talking about, people tried for the first time.

34、 Back in February, you did see, for example, the older generation trying to buy online for the first time. They experienced it as convenient, so we think it is here to stay. I dont think online fitness is a trend that is new, but it was accelerated, and because of the convenience of it, it stays. Di

35、scretionary spending in China Monica Toriello: Another product category that has seen more of its sales migrate to the online channel during the pandemic was luxury goods. Daniel, youve done a lot of work in the luxury sector, which in recent years has relied quite heavily on Chinese consumers, shop

36、ping both in China and abroad. How has COVID-19 changed the luxury sector, and what are its prospects for the next 12 to 18 months? Daniel Zipser: Global luxury sales in the first half of 2020 are down around 30 percent, largely driven by a soft US market. As for China, there are two ways to look at

37、 it. One is, you look at China in terms of people buying things domestically here in Mainland China. And thats strongly growing right nowprobably growing stronger than ever before. Chinese people arent traveling, and that prevents them from buying luxury goods overseas, which is very much impacting

38、the luxury companies that are heavily dependent on tourist spending. But if you talk about domestic spending, thats actually accelerating, because, first of all, people arent buying outside of China, so they are buying in China. Second, people save a lot of money by not traveling. If you dont do a s

39、ummer holiday trip, you have more money to spend on other thingsand the luxury handbag is often seen as a good thing to spend that money on. 4The Chinese consumer: Resilient and confident There is no fatigue of luxury spending in the China market. Earlier, I described the confidence of Chinese consu

40、mers, and people like to show their confidence by buying luxury goods. So overall, we speak about China domestically as going through the roof in terms of luxury. Globally, it will still depend. We will see when the travel restrictions will be released. It may still be a longer time to go there. Mon

41、ica Toriello: Felix, in June you published some research about how consumers in three Asian countries, including China, plan to spend their money post-COVID-19. What were your big takeaways from that research? Felix Poh: When we did the research, consumers told us that generally they were not cancel

42、ing their purchases. This is good news, because these purchases fall under what we typically call discretionary spending. There is, however, likely to be a certain amount of pragmatism and trading down. For brands, more good news is that consumers want to stay within their brand of choice. But in or

43、der to trade down, they would either buy a cheaper product within the same brand or a product on promotion. An interesting finding is that a certain number of people had what we termed “residual social guilt.” There is a proportion of the population that does not want to appear ostentatious or overt

44、ly enjoying themselves while the country is still recovering from a pandemic. Daniel Zipser: Felix brought up promotions, which I think is an important topic. The promotion intensity has substantially increased in China over the past months. And why is that? The companies were trying to get consumpt

45、ion back, get people back to the stores, drive online sales. So right now, its a very attractive time to buy products in China, given that you find very compelling offers in prices. What executives are thinking about Monica Toriello: As youve been working with consumer companies, what are executives

46、 thinking about at this moment in China? What topics matter to them most right now? On the flip side, what are topics that they should be thinking about more that theyre not paying enough attention to? Daniel Zipser: Let me start with whats on the mind of every executive in China right now. Everybod

47、y in China is aware that China right now is propping up global consumptionthat is, the share of consumption coming from China has increased substantially over the past months for every multinational company. So whats on peoples minds right now is growth and how to get the growth. I think there are t

48、hree priorities: digital, digital, and digital. It is just incredibly important for every Chinese company to tap into the new ways of digital engagement, as well as digital commerce. There are elements like social commerce, which emerged back in February, that we believe are here to stay. You also a

49、sked about what theyre not looking at. I think there is enthusiasm right now about the China growth story, but I do think that companies could pay more attention to making their businesses more sustainable, to thinking a bit more for the long term and not be carried away by seeing the skyrocketing internet sales. Companies should be thinking, “What does it take in terms of organizational setup? What does it mean for our organizational structure in China? What will it take, in terms of our innovation pipeline, to remain successful in China for the medium to long term, not just the



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