According to AIMRI (Alliance of International Market Research Institutes), China is fast becoming one of the hottest consumer markets in the world. The Chinese economy in 2006 grew 10.7% from 2005 to 2.7 trillion USD. With 1.3 billion people, China represents 20% of the world’s population.
As a result, sales of consumer goods in China are skyrocketing. In 2006, more than 100 million mobile phones were sold there, accounting for 10% of the global volume. Some 13% of Nokia’s global revenue was from China in 2006. By the end of last year, more than 250,000 foreign companies were registered and in operation in China. Of Fortune 500 companies, some 470 have invested in China.
This unprecedented economic expansion has led to double-digit growth for its research industry. The value of marketing research commissioned in China is approximately $600 million USD, and the market is growing around 20% each year. Marketing research in China covers many sectors, including autos, finance, medicine, real estate, IT and telecoms. In addition, FMCGs are seeking to expand beyond the larger Chinese cities in to smaller, more rural areas. Although people living in less developed areas of China earn less money than those living in larger cities, their great numbers make them a compelling target.
However, traditional face-to-face data collection no longer meets all businesses needs, especially for large projects and multi-national surveys. While the shortage, and expense, of interviewers is prohibitive, the following reasons are why face-to-face interviewing in cities is becoming more difficult:
• There is an increasing mistrust of strangers
• With security guards in communities, it’s difficult to visit respondents in their homes
• People are changing their addresses and telephone numbers more frequently; and
• There is increasing concern about privacy
The need for fast, timely marketing research is critical. CATI, CAPI, and online data collection methods are quickly becoming popular in China. As of January 2007, China had 137 million internet users, up 23% from 2005. Chinese internet users, of whom 76% have broadband, are online an average of nearly 17 hours per week. Penetration in urban areas is high, especially among middle and high end consumers and youth.
It should be noted that data obtained through internet sampling is of high quality. As it is anonymous, people tend to be truthful. With the flexibilities of time and place that internet sample offers, respondents have time to think about the questions so the data collected is more precise. There is no bias caused by interviewers or during the data checking.