Foreign companies tap consumption potential in fast-growing Chinese market

(Xinhua) 09:53, October 30, 2023

BEIJING, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- As the tastes of Chinese consumers move toward higher-quality and more diverse products and services, foreign companies are working to cater to their needs and tap further into the consumption potential of the vast market.

Consumption, a mainstay of the Chinese economy, has seen steady expansion this year, contributing 83.2 percent to GDP growth in the first three quarters, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

In the first three quarters, the per capita consumption of services accounted for 46.1 percent of China's total per capita spending of residents, a year-on-year increase of 2 percentage points, the bureau said.

The Chinese market is growing at the fastest pace globally, and its size comes at the top around the world, said Belinda Wong, chairwoman and CEO of Starbucks China.

This enables the company to move more swiftly to innovate its products and introduce various kinds of blended coffee products specifically targeting the tastes of Chinese consumers, Wong added.

The coffee giant launched the Starbucks Intenso Collection specifically for the Chinese market on Oct. 17. The new collection is served in small green cups and offers four flavors designed to cater to the different tastes of coffee enthusiasts.

Last month, Starbucks' new coffee innovation park began operations in east China's Jiangsu Province -- a milestone achievement for the company's business in China. The park made China the first market in Starbucks' global network to complete a full-scale vertical integration "from bean to cup."

It will enable Starbucks China to respond more quickly to the needs of its Chinese customers, allowing it to make bespoke blending and roasting plans to meet the ever-developing preferences of its customers, according to the company.

"We're very proud of the investment we have been continuing to make in China," Wong said, noting that the coffee giant's investment in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province, and in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, is nearing 440 million U.S. dollars.

The scale of China's coffee industry grew from 165.1 billion yuan (about 23 billion U.S. dollars) in 2021 to 200.7 billion yuan in 2022, and it is expected to reach 369.3 billion yuan in 2025, according to a report published by domestic commercial data analysis firm CBNData and Shanghai Jiao Tong University in May.

Starbucks currently boasts a market footprint of over 6,500 branches across more than 250 Chinese cities, with 800 county-level markets across the country. Thanks to the growth potential of the Chinese market, Starbucks will remain committed to long-term development in the country, Wong said.

A travel boom during the recent Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday period again pointed to Chinese consumers' growing willingness to spend, with the growth of revenue from accommodation and catering services sustaining its robust momentum.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), a leading multinational hospitality giant headquartered in the United Kingdom, saw its Greater China region revenue per available room surge 43.2 percent year on year in the third quarter of 2023.

Hotel development in the Greater China region has continued to improve since the beginning of the year amid the recovery of China's culture and travel market, with the group achieving its highest number of signed projects in a single quarter since 2021, according to the report.

"China is a vibrant market growing at the fastest pace in the world for IHG," said Lu Haiqing, chief corporate affairs and strategic relations officer of IHG Greater China.

Tailoring its offerings to traditional Chinese culture and popular aesthetics, the hotel giant introduced Hualuxe, a new brand designed exclusively for its Chinese customers, in 2012. As of the end of September 2023, the brand operates 20 hotels in China and 24 more are under construction, covering big cities and popular holiday destinations such as Beijing, Xiamen and Kunming.

China's market potential has emerged from the overall consumption upgrade trend among Chinese people, and it has given the company more opportunities in the middle-end market. Holiday Inn Express, a middle-to-high-end hotel brand under IHG, was designed to target customers with constantly growing demand for quality hotel experiences.

To date, there are nearly 500 Holiday Inn Express hotels in operation or under construction across 31 provincial-level regions in the Greater China region.

The Chinese economy is improving, and its buoyed consumption capabilities have brought in customers for the tourism industry, Lu said, expressing strong confidence in the group's future development in China, IHG's second-largest market worldwide.

In the future, the group will continue to strengthen cooperation in China and serve its local customers in various respects, meeting demand and providing products to offer diversified travel experiences to the market, Lu said.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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