Consumers in Australia and China: Differences and Identity

By Tiffany Ryan

What are the differences in attitudes between Australian and Chinese consumers?

Food, clothing, shelter and means of travel are the four basic necessities of life; we cannot live without any of them. Yet conceptual differences exist between Australians and the Chinese on the consuming of daily necessities.

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(Chinese shoppers, photo courtesy of atimes) 


Buying a House

In the mind of the Australians, the concept of “home” is dissimilar with that of the Chinese people. When Australians say “home” they stress on the relationship among their family members, while the Chinese mean more than that – they also stress on the house in which they have lived in the childhood.
Australian people have got used to renting. They don’t take houses too seriously. Instead they regard family relationships as the most important. Yet for Chinese people, even though they leave their native place for a long time and rent another house, say, in a big city, where they were born and grew up is still regarded as a home and, most importantly, the place holding their life’s roots.

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Another thing worth noticing is that Australians buy a big house simply out of their needs. However larger houses are for Chinese a symbol of success, which they use to flaunting their considerable wealth. After Chinese young people get a job, their priority will be buying a house, because in large cities, it is quite hard for a man who has no house to take a wife. Nevertheless, most of the time, it will be their parents who actually pay. On the contrary, in Australia, many post-80s people don’t own a house. They hold the idea that they should not live off their parents and be dependent on themselves when buying a house. They will save up some money for the down payment and then pay up the installments over several years.
Australians do not understand Chinese’s opinions about buying a house – with all the talking about the Chinese’s deep concerns for their family, they make money desperately and spend little time with their family members. Finally they will end up living in a big house but being bored, described by others as a cold person.


Buying a Car

The conception of buying cars is also different between Australians and the Chinese. In Australia, the car is merely a necessary transport and almost each family has one car or two. People won’t pay too much attention to how expensive this car is or what brand the car is. Besides, mass youth would buy a used car and nobody would look down on them.

While in the mind of the Chinese people, they want more a top-dollar car than a car with cost performance. One reason is that the price of cars in China is generally much higher than that in Australia. For instance, you can buy a BMW X5 for 100 thousand dollars in Australia, but in China the same car will cost you 900 thousand RMB, equaling to 180 thousand dollars. Quite a lot of Chinese will buy pricey cars in Australia because it’s still cheaper than buying them in China.
Another factor would be that Chinese people like to buy good cars to improve their image in front of others. They prefer expensive cars to practical cars as in some people’s eyes the car’s brand can be a symbol of wealth. Therefore, the Chinese are more likely to buy advanced cars while Australians always buy handy cars.


Going Shopping

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(Australian shoppers on Boxing Day in Melbourne, photo courtesy of News Limited)
Australians strive for practicability, while the Chinese pursue the best brand. In daily life, Australians will not make a conscious effort to buy any brand-name clothing; they pay more attention to quality. Common people will get some new stuff on sale season.
Nevertheless, many Chinese people register some different characteristics while go shopping. First, they show the conformable psychology of consumer; they will rush to buy things that many other people buy regardless of their own needs. Obvious examples would be health care products. Even they might not need them, they would buy a lot of health products and think that taking those pills will improve their health.
Second, Chinese people hold the idea that the more expensive the good, the better. That’s why they are willing to spend more money on luxury goods. So the luxury stores around the world shall never be afraid of lacking costumers; setting up boutiques will attract more Chinese consumers.


Going Traveling

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(Chinese Travellers going abroad, photo courtesy of scmp.com)

Australians and Chinese hold different conceptions while they are going traveling. In Australians’ mind, traveling is only about relaxing, expanding their horizons, and appreciating different cultures. Maybe they will buy special products of locality, but a few of them would be enough. Hence, Australians often spend less on buying products during a tour than Chinese people, and they will never be like some Chinese travelers who load themselves with as many of the shopping bags as they can.

In recent years, the Chinese have become the largest group of people on the globe who spend considerably on overseas tourism consuming. Among them, young people, usually the advocates of independent travel, will spend more on souvenirs. They are always full of curiosity so they would like to explore new and exotic things. Therefore exciting and interesting recreational projects might be great attraction to them, such as a theme park like Disneyland and Legoland Billund.

The middle-aged and the elderly in China prefer a package tour for it saves them a lot of time on planning the trip. Besides, some people will even go abroad just for shopping, buying cosmetics and health products. As the number of Chinese people traveling overseas raises dramatically, a focus on attracting Chinese tourists to buy tourism products can be a good idea for many travel companies.
In conclusion, Australians think money should not become the rule of their life but traditionally most Chinese tend to hold the view that money equals to happiness. Differences exist between Australians and the Chinese on the consuming concept, which is due to their differences regarding the relationship of money and happiness. May this article be inspiring for you when you made the decision on the distribution of merchandizing and the development of business.

3 thoughts on “Consumers in Australia and China: Differences and Identity

  1. Hi Danielles, Thank you for you post. While I enjoyed the concept of learning about subtleties in difference between Australian and Chinese access and utilisation of the four basic necessities, I had a few issues with some of your information. Specifically, around generalizations you have made that are not particularly helpful as a prospective small business owner looking to expand into China. This is not only because it is problematic to describe a country as diverse and large as China as a homogenous whole, but also because in the age of globalisation frameworks such as the one you have created often don’t “fit” in describing the masses anymore.

    One example which I struggled with and have not personally seen or experienced in my time spent in both Australia and China, was the example of housing and family prioritisation. Specifically, I believe people in many cultures (including both in China and Australia) upgrading to larger houses can be for both for practicality and as representative of wealth. Additionally, many people revere Asian countries (such as China) for their holistic family care and respect for their old people, which differs greatly from Australia where it is considered normal for older generations to end up living in a home.

    While I think there are some good general ideas here I would suggest presenting these perspectives as your opinion, rather than as fact. This way people can have the opportunity to take your point of view on board in conjunction with other information, in order to make an informed judgment on China and operating within their diverse culture.

    1. Hi gracef, thank you for your feedback. I will ensure that the author of this post (Tiffany Ryan) is notified of the problems that you have identified.

  2. Interesting read with plenty of illustrative examples. I would agree with Grace that this seems rather as an interesting opinion piece rather that a research-based comparison. Still, very interesting observations.

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