Diversity of China
The diversity of China geographically, socially, and economically creates a major barrier for carrying out accurate and reliable market research in China. A focus group conducted in Fuzhou or Zibo is like to illicit different responses to one carried out in Shanghai or Beijing. Why is this? Consumer habits in China vary according to which segment they are in. Hub of China sees China as a market that consists of three segments:
-The highly globalised segment. This is the segment in which Chinese consumers shows similar preferences and tastes with other consumers in the developed areas of the Western world. This segment predominantly includes the three eastern regions: The Pearl River Delta, The Yangtze River Delta and the Beijing region. This includes areas like HK,Guangzhou, Shanghai etc.
-The semi-global market segment. A segment in which consumers display a mixture of global and local preferences. This includes cities like Chengdu, Fuzhou, Zibo and Dalian. In Chengdu McDonalds have a menu that generally resembles a menu similar to its Western counterparts with the exception of adding a spicy kick to some of their offerings.
-The highly localised segment. Consumers maintain their local preferences and tastes and would not adhere well to global products. This segment is mainly found in the remote and rural areas of central and Western China.
To overcome these barriers its imperative that you choose your markets carefully and ensure you are aware of which market segment you wish to target. If you wish to target the whole of China it would be wise to conduct qualitative market research in.
Moderating Chinese Market Research
A moderator needs to be familiar about the dynamics that can occur when Chinese people congregate together to participate in market research. Group think is a common issue that moderators need to be able to overcome. It’s very common for young participants in a focus group to conform to the opinions of older participants in the focus group. This can be prevented by conducting two separate focus groups for different ages but similarly status can become a further barrier. Chinese people are normally reasonably good at working out the status (job, money etc) of other Chinese people and this can also lead to group think with participants ‘lower’ down the hierarchy agreeing to those that are higher.
Another issue is general shyness amongst people who don’t know each other. Amongst strangers the Chinese are often less keen to provide their true opinion as they may not see the environment as a safe space and will want to avoid conflicts at all costs. It’s the role of a moderator to use various techniques to encourage all participants to speak out.
There can be many issues in carrying out market research in China, these all need to be overcome to ensure that the research is reliable and useful.