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Nielsen: Emerging Online Channels Resonate with Chinese Shoppers

Sue Feng,, 010-5912-9195

Apparel, accessories generate most frequent online shopping trips
Online mom-and-baby stores enjoy incremental growth compared with the same stores offline

Beijing – September 16th, 2013 – The popularity of the internet in China has changed consumers’ shopping behaviors, according to a recent report by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumes watch and buy.

Apparel & accessories generate the most frequent shopping trips online

According to Nielsen’s annual report on online shopping behavior of Chinese consumers, apparel and accessories enjoy the highest penetration among Chinese online shoppers, as many as 91 percent of respondents say they have bought these products online over the past three months. Household products rank the No.2 with a penetration rate of 78 percent.

In addition to having the most online penetration among Chinese shoppers, apparel and accessories also generate the most shopping trips — 42.43 shopping trips in average every year among survey respondents. “Travel less” (57%) and “Easy to shop and time-saving” (56%) are the top 2 incentives behind consumers’ online shopping for this category.

The number of trips, however, doesn’t automatically equate to the most dollars spent. Notably, Chinese consumers shop for electronic appliances/mobile/IT digital products with the least frequency (21.12 times a year in average), but they spent the most on products from these areas. “Lower and transparent price” (55%) is the most important reason for consumers to shop online for these products, followed by “home delivery” (47%) and “easy to shop and time-saving” (43%).

Nearly 60 percent of respondents in the survey said they would turn to search engines to find product information; around 40 percent of respondents log on the professional reviews network to help them make online purchase decisions; and around 45 percent of respondents go to physical stores to check out the actual products.

“Price” is the most important factor (75%) taken into account by online shoppers when they are trying to compare different products of similar kinds. Compared with men (48%), women (58%) place more significance on the comments by other online shoppers.

Online mom-and-baby stores see a robust growth

Compared with other categories, Chinese shoppers are more cautious in their purchases for baby products and are likely to conduct thorough research on specific products of interest through a wide range of channels before their final online purchases are made. Among these channels, search engine still tops the list by winning 60 percent of respondents’ votes, followed by “visiting an actual store so they could have the touch and feel experience associated with tangible products” (50%), “recommendations and comments on social media” (46%), “information on the professional review networks” (43%), and “recommendations and comments on BBS and specialty online forums” (42%).

“With a majority of Chinese families having only one child, Chinese parents are very concerned about the quality of the baby products and lots of considerations are taken into account behind their online purchases,” said Steven Li, CEO of Nielsen Online China and VP of e-commerce.

From September 2011 to September 2012, the growth of online sales for infant milk formula was nearly 11 times higher than that of offline store sales, according to a Nielsen’s survey. Time-saving (60%), home delivery (54%) and good price (47%) are the top three incentives to drive Chinese parents online, according to the report.

Men more active than women in online shopping process for a couple of key categories

Though women around the world are always perceived as dominant shoppers, Nielsen’s e-Commerce report shows that except for the category of baby products, for which only 35 percent of male respondents (44% for women) say they have purchased the products online, the rest of the seven categories included in the survey all show an active engagement from male respondents, by attracting at least 50% of male respondents to buy online.

And in a couple of key categories, men are more active than women in the online shopping process. According to the survey, as high as 80 percent of male respondents (vs. 59% for women) say they have purchased electronic appliances/mobile/IT digital products online; and 71 percent of male respondents (vs. 66% for women) say they have purchased service/virtual products online. For the category of household products, men and women stand pretty close (78% vs. 79%).

“Compared with women who are more likely to shop around and compare quality and prices of different channels, men are goal-oriented shoppers,” said Li. “The standing-out features of online channels, such as transparency, good price and convenience, offer significant benefits for goal-oriented shoppers when purchases are just a click away.”

The Nielsen report also shows that the stores-of-choice always go to those which have “wide variety of brands/products with efficient supplies,” and with “reasonable price with good quality,” according to the report.

Desktop computers and laptops are still the most important devices for shoppers to shop online, with 95 percent of respondents say they choose them as the most frequently-used devise for online shopping. Meanwhile, mobile shopping via mobile phone and tablets is gaining momentum, with 41 percent and 37 percent of respondents also choosing to use these devices to shop online. When checking out with their goods, Alipay and e-bank channels rank the highest by winning 86 percent and 57 percent of votes from respondents respectively in the survey.

About the Survey
Nielsen’s annual report on online shopping behavior of Chinese consumers is based on an online survey of a total of 2,800 respondents aged over 18 from seven major cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Hangzhou, and Nanjing. Respondents claimed that their households had an average salary of more than 12,000 yuan per month. Sixty percent of respondents said they received bachelor’s degree, and more than 50 percent of them have at least one child.

About Nielsen
Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA, and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit