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Decoding new consumer behaviour in the age of bricks and clicks

2021 Global Consumer Insights Survey China report

As the COVID-19 pandemic is still running its course in many economies, consumers worldwide had no choice but to pivot and adopt new lifestyles and habits. Businesses are grappling with rapidly changing consumer behavior and how these changes are going to impact their strategy and bottom-line over the longer horizon.

China, being the world’s biggest consumer market by population, is not immune to external shocks. The domestic market is evolving at breakneck speed. Over the past 18 months nationwide retail sales has rebounded from the trough of pandemic-induced recession in January 2020 to a near full-scale recovery – all the way till April 2021 when outbreak of the delta variant in certain cities and regions caused another setback. Throughout these times retail businesses at large have shown adaptability and resilience against market disruptions.

For the 2021 Global Consumer Insights Survey, we adopted a ‘pulse’ approach and fielded two surveys, one in November 2020 (‘Pulse 1’) and the other in March 2021 (‘Pulse 2’), in order to remain attuned to changes in the worldwide landscape and connected to the behaviours of the global consumer. Our survey has revealed that the pandemic-induced consumer changes are still sticking―signifying a fundamental and long-term shift in consumer behaviour.    

Consumer trends and business implications
The transformation of stores to offer “phygital” experience
Brand relevance and the culturally aware consumer
Understanding the generational divide
Sustainability-driven consumption and ESG ascendance
The digitally-enabled supply chain

The transformation of stores to offer “phygital” experience

“Preparing for this brave new world of bricks-and-clicks consumption would call for a major shift in retailers’ operating strategies - towards e-commerce and O2O integration as well as delivering frictionless, tech-enabled in-store experiences.


Brand relevance and the culturally aware consumer


The nationwide trend to embrace domestic brands, has become a strong emotional catalyst for boosting popularity of local consumer


Understanding the generational divide


Young Chinese consumers are optimistic about the economy, less price-conscious and more conscious about data privacy

On the other hand, senior Chinese consumers tend to exhibit higher digital literacy compared to their global counterparts


Sustainability-driven consumption and ESG ascendance


Sustainable consumption have never been more popular in China and such trend is expected to further proliferate


The digitally-enabled supply chain


The pandemic has disrupted the global supply chain network, and manufacturers and retailers are reinventing their supply chain to stay relevant

Explore the findings from the Global Consumer Insights Survey 2021 

Browse and compare our survey data by country or category.

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Contact us

Michael Cheng

Asia Pacific, Mainland China and Hong Kong Consumer Markets Leader, PwC China

Tel: +[852] 2289 1033

Jennifer Ye

Mainland China Consumer Markets Leader, PwC China

Tel: +[86] (21) 2323 3325

Steven Zhong

ESG - Sustainable Value Chains Lead Partner, PwC China

Tel: +[86] (21) 2323 5349

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