The Chinese Spring Festival, which is the biggest holiday in China, and the period when the most Chinese people travel abroad, will start in two weeks.
As Chinese shoppers are known for clearing out the shelves when shopping, nearby countries such as Korea and Japan are looking forward to the visitors. However, the Chinese government is not happy, as the money that would otherwise be spent in the domestic market is leaking out to foreign countries.
The Chinese government is working hard to bring overseas spending back to China. One of the biggest reasons Chinese consumers shop abroad is because of the difference in the quality of products. Chinese consumers think that products from Korea or Japan offer better quality compared to their own. The Chinese government is trying hard to change the perception of local consumers.
According to the Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Chinese national media quoted Vice Minister Fung Bei, saying “the biggest difference between foreign products and domestic products lies in brand power and influence”.
Fung explained that domestic products lack brand power, resulting in a consumer preference for foreign products. “Rice cookers made in China and Japan were compared. Even though the rice cooked by the Chinese rice cooker tasted better, the participants preferred the Japanese product.”
Citing another reason why consumers prefer foreign products, Fung said that there are so many ‘fake’ products in the domestic market, pushing consumers to purchase foreign products.
Though online sales are growing in China while manufacturing industries are suffering, the internet is where so many fake products exist.
According to authorities, only 58.7 per cent of the products sold on the internet were free of quality defects, and were genuine. Under the circumstances, consumer complaints are increasing, and government endorsements for buying domestic products make little sense.
Due to the many fake products in the Chinese market, brand power, which is the most important factor when it comes to boosting domestic sales, is difficult to achieve. Even knock-offs of domestic brands are abundant, and tech superstar Xiaomi even has a separate homepage where consumers can report fake products.
The problems have resulted in Chinese consumers clearing the shelves when they travel abroad.
Although the Chinese government is making efforts to ‘cleanse’ its bad name, the process will take a long time. To boost the domestic economy in the meantime, customs on foreign everyday products have been lowered, and corporations are required to take measures to boost their brand power.
However, Nihon Keizai Shimbun points out that the current practice is rooted deeply in China’s economy and society, making it hard to change, even though they are the obstacles that are blocking the steady growth of the Chinese economy.
- By Francine Jung of Koreabizwire.