Published: May 2007
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The Chinese economy has grown rapidly during the past two decades as a result of the open-door policy towards trade, investment, and intellectual exchange; this has brought China closer economically and culturally to the developed western world. Western culture and imported products have been gradually embraced to varying extents and in different ways. For example, the Chinese people have become more open to expressing their opinions-especially the younger generation. And consumption of consumer goods, including imported products, has dramatically increased during the past 5-10 years; the choice and type of products are increasing daily. Consequently, Chinese consumers have developed many similarities to other countries with regard to the type of product benefits desired. However, the uniqueness of the Chinese culture, the diversity of the people, influences of local traditions and history, economic regional differences, etc., still have a substantial influence on consumer desires and needs. Equally, this uniqueness also influences how consumer research is done within China.
Conducting consumer research in China is not an easy undertaking, especially when considering China has an area of 9 596 960 km2, greatly varying climates, and uneven economic development. Confounding this, China has an ethically diverse population of 1.3 billion people (www.china.org.cn∕english∕index.html) (2005), who speak Mandarin plus many other local dialects. The majority of consumer research has been conducted within large cities (e.g., Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing, Xian, and Sheyang) or the immediate surrounding areas. Conducting consumer research in rural areas-especially distant from the larger urban cites-is difficult and time consuming due to the lack of rapid transportation and consumer research facilities in these areas.
Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, Morris Plains, NJ
ASCI Inc., Montville, NJ
Nicoll, Gregg A.
The Coca-Cola Company, Atlanta, GA