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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The modern Chinese woman

The modern Chinese woman (Excerpt: The End of Cheap China): Shanghaiist

"Young female shoppers in China are not as price sensitive as many analysts believe. Women tend to be value driven rather than price sensitive, and look for products that confer status. This means women will shop for luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci despite the hefty price tag, because they feel these well-known brands project an image of high status that makes them feel successful, which is what gives them value. On the other hand, women gravitate toward more affordable brands like Spanish apparel retailer Zara or H&M, because the clothes are comfortable and of good quality, but not too expensive. They also view these brands as a good value...

They shop in a way that mirrors the shape of an hourglass. They either buy luxury products, or the cheapest products in categories they do not value. Brands positioned in the middle level, like Gap, get lost in the drive for Louis Vuitton or the cheapest items possible.

If there is a drawback to all of the love and attention being showered on Chinese women, it is that many in urban areas are becoming spoiled to a dangerous extent. Part of the problem is that parents who suffered during the Cultural Revolution don’t want their daughters to go through any hardship. They indulge their little princesses, rather than help them learn how to over- come any obstacles they might face on their own.

When the going gets tough, many parents teach their daughters it is better to get going and to run away from difficulties. When a job gets too hard or the hours too long, parents often support the mentality of quitting the job and finding another, perhaps in a state-owned enterprise where salaries are high and hours short. In interview after interview with multinational executives in China, I heard complaints about all of the other- wise bright and talented young Chinese women—and men, in many instances—who were unwilling and unable to tackle serious challenges. At some point decades from now, their lack of grit and determination to overcome challenges, and their willingness to take on debt, might cause China to face some of the same challenges that America is now...

Mattel launched a 36,000-square-foot, six-story Barbie flagship store in Shanghai that did not cater to Chinese women who often like different styles than Western women. Mattel hired Patricia Fields of Sex and the City fame to design clothes for Chinese women. These designs were too sexy; the low-cut blouses showing cleavage put off young women. Many told us they found the clothes “too sexy and revealing” and too expensive for frilly products.

Chinese women like “cute”; think Hello Kitty rather than sexy. Snoopy-branded clothing is one of the hottest brands for twenty- something Chinese women. Barbie, by contrast, shut its $37 million store two years after opening.

Barbie targeted the right age group, as younger women are the most optimistic group in China and have increasing dis- posable income, but they failed to that realize young Chinese women are immature relative to Westerners, which is why they like cuter objects. Chinese women often live at home until marriage, and are treated like little princesses, with parents cooking and washing clothes for their daughters even after they have entered the workforce full time."

Somehow, this seems to apply to the rest of East Asia too...
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