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Chinese Consumers Boost Foreign Brands


People throng the Nanjing Road shopping district in Shanghai, April 30, 2011.

People throng the Nanjing Road shopping district in Shanghai, April 30, 2011.

VOA is examining China's growing international economic influence in a series of reports.

In this story, Beijing Bureau chief and Correspondent Stephanie Ho looks at the effect that hundreds of millions of new consumers are having on the world of business.

Apple opened its first shop in China in 2008. This year, sales in China are expected to account for about 10 percent of Apple's total revenue.

The United States is the world’s number one marketplace, but China, the most populous country in the world, is the marketplace with the greatest sales potential.

Christian Murck heads the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

“You have a group of people who can spend on automobiles and on branded garments and cosmetics and whatever, and who tend to eat better than they did before," Murck says. "The whole level of consumption and standard of living goes up quite significantly.”

Chinese Consumers Boost Foreign Brands

Chinese Consumers Boost Foreign Brands

Song Hong, director of the International Trade Department at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, says China is not yet the world’s largest market, but is on its way.

“In certain industries, China is already the world’s largest market -- in automobiles, electronics, mobile phones, for example. China will lead the world’s consumption in more and more industries and then finally become the world’s largest market.”

China’s demand for cars is helping foreign automakers that are seeing weak sales at home. Ford China’s sales jumped 14 percent in May from a year ago.

Visitors look inside a Ford Sport Utility Vehicle displayed at the Shanghai Auto Show, Shanghai, China, April 21, 2011. (AFP)

Liu Yan wants her first car to be a Ford. Although it is largely made in China, it has a foreign brand name.

“I don’t really know too much about this, but after looking around, I feel that Chinese cars are not as safe as these cars," she says.

Angelica Cheung is editor in chief of Vogue China. She says the fashion industry here has blossomed.

“It’s amazing. You just look at the events we have, the number of product launches every week, every day almost," she says. "All the brand launches, shop openings, product launches, even back six years ago when we first started in China, we did not have that volume of activity."

Cheung says foreign companies no longer are just opening in Beijing or Shanghai. She says as people in other cities get wealthier too, they also are looking for ways to spend their money.

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