WEEK EIGHT: Global Consumer Economies

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This week I have done some external research, through both primary and secondary methods. As I have been opened to this new concept of the auto-ethnographic study, I am realising that it is imploring me to get amongst my research and become the results. I have found some interesting articles which I will briefly explore throughout this post and I also have documented some observations I made when I went for a brief trip to Pitt St Mall in Sydney.

To begin with, some cold, hard facts.

According to an article entitled, “China overtakes US to be biggest economy by 2024,” in the Telegraph, the world’s largest consumer, the US will soon be defeated by China in 2024. As major global consumer economies, this will have drastic impact on many different countries, businesses, brands and consumers. The US had remained as the largest consumer economy for the past decade, though it has been predicted that by 2014, China will spend a staggering $10.5US trillion dollars on consumer spending. (Mianyang, 2014)

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In an article entitled ‘Chinese Consumers; Doing it their way’ on the Economist website, Chinese consumer patterns are set to increase over the next decade. They are also at a high throughout the globe, where two thirds of Chinese luxury shopping is done outside of China. This is due to the fact that Chinese shoppers are savvy. They research and observe price differentiations throughout the globe. They do this through sites such as Alibaba, an online shopping giant in China. China has become the world’s biggest e-commerce market, spending $540US billion dollars in 2012. (Mianyang, 2014)

When considering consumption patterns of luxury items, I found some interesting information which coincided with that which I have observed myself. This week, I took a trip to Pitt St Mall in Sydney, where I visited several stores in order to make some observations. I entered ten stores, these are as following; Gucci, Hermès, Prada, Myer, Witchery, Saba, Country Road, Sportsgirl, Topshop and General Pants. I targeted three luxury fashion stores, three middle range stores, three ‘high street’ stores and one department store, in order to observe the difference in clientèle. I noted the amount of clients and their ethnicity over the course of 20 minutes in each store.

NB: Due to the fact that I was merely observing, the results can not be deemed 100% accurate.

OBSERVATIONS:

Gucci- 6 clients, 4 ASIAN, 2 CAUCASIAN

Hermès- 4 clients, 4 ASIAN

Prada- 6 clients, 5 ASIAN, 1 CAUCASIAN

Myer- 50+ clients, 18 ASIAN, 39 CAUCASIAN, 3 AFRICAN

Witchery- 11 clients, 2 ASIAN, 9 CAUCASIAN

Saba- 6 clients, 6 CAUCASIAN

Country Road- 19 clients, 3 ASIAN, 16 CAUCASIAN

Sportsgirl- 23 clients, 4 ASIAN, 19 CAUCASIAN

Topshop- 26 clients, 8 ASIAN, 18 CAUCASIAN

General Pants- 19 clients, 9 ASIAN, 10 CAUCASIAN

As stated, these results are merely observations, made for the purpose of comparing my own results with quantitative research. I chose to make these observations as I am performing an auto-ethnographic study where I am embodying the research.

From these observations it is clear that more people frequent the high street stores rather than the luxury stores. From these results, it is evident that the cheaper stores bring more people. It was also interesting to note that more Asian people seem to frequent the luxury stores, where there were a lot more Caucasians in the high street stores. I will be making the same observations next week, in order to compare and contrast the results and consider other variables.

REFERENCES

Mianyang, 2014, “Chinese Consumers; Doing it their way” in The Economist at http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21595019-market-growing-furiously-getting-tougher-foreign-firms-doing-it-their-way, visited on 15th September 2014

Pin Chan S, 2014, “China takes over US to be biggest economy by 2024” in The Telegraph at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11078885/China-overtakes-US-to-be-biggest-economy-by-2024.html, visited on 15th September 2014

Image One: Guo Gingming, The Economist

Image Two: Bain, The Economist

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8 comments

  1. Amy, your research into China’s buying behavior is very thought provoking. How dissimilar can our online buying behavior be compared to international markets like Asia, in particular China? I’m not sure if your research has identified anything certain, yet, but maybe next week you could focus on some of these aspects.
    It’s hard to get “amongst” your research when its focus is overseas, so I commend you for going out and spending time doing research in Sydney! However, I’m a little concerned (and curious) about your research methods at Sydney and how that links to the Chinese reports you examined. Why? because I want to know if these “Asian” individuals you observed are from diaspora Chinese communities, and if not, how does your research relate to the Chinese reports. Do your observations assume that China’s buying behvaiour is reflected across all of Asia? Next week, It would be great if you could talk about how further research will help with your individual project and how it relates to your past posts.
    Fantastic work Amy 🙂

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  2. I feel like this is a great way to get involved in your research! Very interesting stats, yet they also bring up so many questions in relation to the age of the shoppers (I would say those in the luxury stores would be older than those in the high street stores), as well who out of the people in the store actually purchased something? I know that it would be a lot more time consuming and difficult to tally but maybe it is something you can think about next week when you do it again? Also it would be great if you could find something in relation to the buying statistics and active/engagement time of popular Asian online shoppers compared to that of Australian shoppers on The Iconic or Oroton! Other than that, great post, keen to see what you find next week!

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  3. Hey Amy,
    Great post this week. It is very evident that you have put a lot of effort into this week’s post and it is good to see that you have really questioned the aspect of research and the concept of autoethnography,
    It is such a great idea that you got “amongst” your research this week and think that it produced some good results even though you cannot actually travel to Asia, it was still very interesting to read. I also agree with Tuohy, however I think your research can really lead you to question how Asian cultures has influenced Western ciltures, and maybe even have a look at the differences between Asian culture in a specific Asian country, like Japan and contrast it to how Asian culture is in Australia and whether there are a lot of differences or similarities.

    Great work this week 🙂

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  4. Hey Amy,
    This was so interesting to read as it gave a really different perspective to what I’ve seen before in DIGC330 posts. It was also really cool to see you really getting into the autoethnographic research methodology in a physical way! I don’t find it surprising that more Asian than Caucasian people were seen in the luxury stores, rather than the high end – the times when I have been places such as Pitt St Mall I have noticed a very similar clientele. Maybe next week you could delve into why race may be a factor in different people’s shopping preferences!!!!

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  5. Hi Amy, this is not quite autoethnographic research. It is more like what you would call a ‘participant observation’, but take a look again at the readings on autoethnography and reconsider your data collection here. Rather than trying to count ‘types’ of people, refer to some of the questions in the Prezi slides and readings to help you reconsider some of the assumptions you are making in this approach.

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  6. I’ve been thinking a lot about this one overnight, and it is close to autoethnography, and I think you can expand this approach by investigating and digging into some of the assumptions being made in the current design. For example perhaps you might look into those brands you mentioned and examine where/how they are produced and how they are received, used, promoted, discussed etc. What is the significance of the ‘high street’ versus ‘luxury’ is this a global/local phenomenon – how can autoE assist in unpacking and investigating the production and consumption of these brands across Asia and in the local Australian context?

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    1. Hi Chris and everyone who has commented on my post for this week! Thank you all for your feedback! I really appreciate it. Last week was an interesting one for me as I went out of my way to observe those people who ‘generally’ frequent certain stores. As I am questioning the appeal of luxury brands, I began by recognising the prominence of luxury items in fashion blogs. I found that luxury items are often re-blogged and gain many likes and following. I also noted that a lot of these bloggers are of Chinese orientation. With some friends who are Chinese and indulge in luxury brands and having started an internship at a company which deals with luxury brands and is based in Asia, I thought it might be a good idea to use these contacts in order to further understand why such brands have so much social value.
      By observing the clientele in certain stores, it has helped me to see the impact of the brands in Australia. I am also looking the method of purchasing, as online shopping makes up a growing amount of consumer buying these days and I want to know if it is the same for luxury items. This is because when people buy luxury items, I want to know whether they are buying for the social recognition, eg. images on Tumblr or because they believe the quality and standard is worth the money they pay.

      Alongside my external methodologies, I am constantly blogging on my artefact, Tumblr. Thus, in reply to your comments, I have performed several other methodologies, such as an interview with a friend this week, which will help me to unpack the reasons behind extravagant spending and the truth behind who spends the most in the world. Whether stereotypes are accurate and Chinese consumers are the largest spenders in the world, or whether this is false.

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