China is, of course, the most populous nation on Earth, with a population of 1.4 billion, nearly one-fifth of the planet’s population. Until recently, a number of factors—including a government-controlled economy and the sheer land mass of the country—kept that massive pool of consumers almost out of reach to many brands. But a vital, entrepreneurial economy, growing emphasis on consumers, brand growth and a range of new consumer insights methods have combined to make China the second largest consumer insights industry in Asia-Pacific, following closely behind Japan. And, in fact, the impressive, double-digit growth of the Chinese industry is set to propel it into the number one slot in the very near future.
Understanding the Chinese Market
The size of the Chinese economy—the second largest in the world, and the world’s largest in terms of purchasing power—means that brands, marketers, and consumer insights professionals need to understand the Chinese market. But, until recently, it has seemed impossible to gather the quality, quantifiable information needed to generate meaningful, actionable insights. The sheer size of the consumer population means that any study needs to include a huge number of consumers in order to have any statistical viability.
Over the last decade or so availability in China of internet and mobile technologies has now given the industry the tools it needs to garner information from across the country. While Chinese consumers rarely own PCs—which tend to be reserved for the country’s elite—smartphones have spread across the landscape, including into tier two and three cities. (This is partly because phones are relatively inexpensive in the country, putting them within the reach of many consumers.) That has given consumer insights professionals the tool they have always needed to reach out to Chinese consumers.
Chinese consumers’ reliance on mobile logically means that consumer insights professionals should gear their practice to mobile-related techniques. And the unique aspects of the country’s culture and economy make it critical to join forces with an experienced and cutting-edge partner.
Having the Right Feet on the Ground
In Toluna’s case, that partner is sister-company, KuRunData, the leading provider of APAC-based survey respondents, featuring the best-profiled online and mobile panel in the region, with more than 5 million registered members. After more than a decade of operations in the country, the company has a depth of understanding and immersion in the market that would be impossible for an outsider to achieve.
Recently, KuRun launched a WeChat mobile survey app, enabling direct access to WeChat—the most popular app in China, with 1 billion users. It’s important to note that WeChat provides access to so much more than a social network. It plays an important role in everyday life in China, providing users access to messaging, social media and mobile payment capabilities within the platform. So the company’s mobile respondent access via WeChat enables KuRun to provide respondent access beyond its 5 million-member panel and couples this with a robust survey platform. There could hardly be a configuration better suited to the expansive Chinese market.
As the Chinese consumer insights market continues to drive toward number one ranking in AP, Toluna will be there with its indispensable partner KuRun to provide clients with a new and clearer vision of the once mysterious Chinese consumer.
Ludo Milet joined Toluna in 2015 as Managing Director APAC, bringing more than 20 years of market research industry experience to the company. Based in Hong Kong, he is responsible for Toluna’s strategy and execution across the Asia-Pacific region.