Chinese consumers are less trustful of official brand websites and prefer to get most of their shopping recommendations from word-of-mouth methods such as social media.
The article, titled The Chinese Digital Consumer in a Multichannel World, was released recently. It offers insights into the ways that online consumer behavior is changing as the country goes increasingly digital.
BCG's Center for Consumer and Customer Insight (CCCI) conducted digital "shop-alongs", surveys, and interviews to learn where and how consumers interact with brands, both online and off.
"With more than 730 million internet users and 380 million online shoppers by 2016, it is important companies look beyond traditional metrics and get a nuanced understanding of digital consumers as they move through the purchase funnel," said Youchi Kuo, an expert principal at BCG and a coauthor of the article.
The research revealed that Chinese consumers concentrate most of their shopping activity on just a few websites, spend a large amount of time "studying" or educating themselves before they buy, and prefer social recommendations over information from official brand websites.
Those behaviors, however, varied by product category and across online versus offline. For example, consumers make multiple offline/online comparisons for skincare items, but will more buy apparel online in a single online session.
Shoppers want to make the best purchase possible, and that means doing lots of research from as many different sources as possible. Research might begin at an e-commerce site, a web portal like Sina.com, or through a Web search, among other methods.
And while actual transactions usually take just 10 to 20 minutes, consumers visit an average of ten Web pages over the course of their browsing. Strategies for Winning
"This new multichannel environment has brought with it distinctive consumer behaviors that are centered around learning, purchasing, and advocating for brands and products," said Waldemar Jap, a partner in BCG's Hong Kong office and a coauthor of the article.
Companies wishing to tap into the digital opportunity should keep in mind that consumers toggle between many different platforms both online and off, and they should ensure a seamless user experience for them across physical stores, brand websites, apps, social media accounts, desktop screens and smart phone screens, and more.
They should also leverage the preference for online recommendations, for example, via campaigns run through celebrity weibo accounts (Twitter-like microblogs) and to make use of mobile devices that link physical shopping to on-line purchase And finally, they should tailor their approach depending on the particular, differing behaviors of consumers in their specific product categories. A copy of the article can be downloaded HERE