‘Strong potential’ for sharing economy in China, says report

New research suggests strong potential for the sharing economy in China, with just 30 per cent of consumers there saying they only want to use brand-new products.

Mintel says the figures highlight the significant market for selling second-hand products and targeting consumers who will rent out rather than buy.

Mintel says 91 per cent of Chinese consumers said they have rented or bought second-hand bicycles/electric bicycles in the past year. This was followed by cars (61 per cent), books/audio-visual products (25 per cent), digital products such as mobile phones and cameras (25 per cent), furniture (18 per cent) and home appliances such as fridges (12 per cent). While the clothes and accessories sharing category has been making headlines, just 9 per cent of urban Chinese consumers have rented or bought them second-hand.

“The current consumer landscape in China shows great potential for the sharing economy to develop further,” said Mintel China associate research analyst Scarlett Zhao. “Largely driven by substantial promotions and subsidies, high penetration in rental and second-hand businesses is more focused on the transportation industry; including cars and bicycles. But while the sharing economy in China is dominated by transportation, we see this trend slowly extending to knowledge sharing through books or audio-visual products.

“At the moment, consumers are not as open to other product categories in the sharing economy space such as clothes and accessories, probably because consumers have not yet cultivated the habit to rent or buy second-hand products. China’s sharing economy still stands in an emerging to growth stage, where market rules and regulations need to be further improved. As a result, this has caused many to remain on the sidelines just like when e-commerce was first introduced.”

Mintel research reveals that the majority of consumers in China acknowledge the benefits of the sharing economy, with as many as 86 per cent of them appreciating the convenience that sharing products and services bring. Meanwhile, 59 per cent of Chinese consumers cite affordability as a reason to participate in the sharing economy, making it the greatest motivation for them to choose renting or buying second-hand products.

Environmental factors are also proving important to consumers. Fifty-one per cent of urban Chinese consumers say that they will rent or buy second-hand products as it is good for the environment.

“Under the healthy wave, consumers today not only look inward to their body health, but are also paying more attention to the whole ecosystem they are interacting with,” added Zhao. “When communicating with and marketing to consumers, companies in the sharing economy space can make consumers feel good about themselves by emphasising how this concept can help reduce the carbon footprint – benefiting the public and the environment.”

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