Chinese companies appear to be taking much more aggressive steps than their Western counterparts to sell over the Internet, according to a white paper released by the American Chamber of Commerce Shanghai (AmCham) Monday.
Almost all the Chinese firms surveyed think that information technology (IT) – shopping on the Internet and via cell phones, as well as gaming and social media – is the most important consumer trend in China today, according to the China Consumer Market Strategies 2011 paper.
However, Western multinational companies (MNCs), which made up 70 percent of the 135 companies surveyed, ranked IT second of six consumer trends behind external exposure, which refers to higher expectations among Chinese consumers as they are exposed to different lifestyles.
The other trends include health and nutrition, evolution of the family unit, mobility and work-life balance, according to the paper.
"Both Western MNCs and Chinese companies think MNCs are better at responding to IT and taking advantage of the trend," said JoAnne Bessler, partner at Booz & Company, which conducted the survey along with AmCham. "However, in reality Chinese companies have much higher adoption of e-commerce."
Ninety-three percent of Chinese companies said that they are already or will soon be involved in e-commerce whereas 40 percent of MNCs said that they have not yet implemented an online shopping strategy and don't plan to do so, said the paper.
"The increasing use of the Internet and mobile communications among Chinese consumers is having a dramatic impact on how they learn and shop," the paper said.
Ninety percent of the overall respondents expected the trend to have an effect on 20- to 40-year-olds, the core consumers in China, who live in first- or second-tier cities and earn a middle-class income of between 10,000 yuan ($1,543) and 50,000 yuan per month, the paper found.
In addition, the number of Chinese companies reporting that at least 11 percent of their revenue comes from technology-enabled transactions is more than double that of their Western competitors, according to the paper.