The world’s salesmen, take note writes Asia Sentinel

For at least 50 years, the world’s salesmen have been mesmerized – largely to no avail – with the idea of 1.3 billion Chinese consumers, a market so vast it is almost unimaginable. It has also mostly been a market too tough to crack.

Today, however, as the government actively pushes for a shift away from an export-led economy, China is expected to become the world’s second-biggest consumer market, with enough purchasing power to buy nearly a seventh of the world’s total products by 2015 – two years from now, finally providing vast opportunities for both global and domestic merchants.

A couple show off their newly purchased PlayStation Vita portable game in Shibuya shopping district in Tokyo Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011. Pic:AP

These new consumers are a unique class. Hundreds of millions of them have migrated from farm to city where they are working in assembly and other industries. They are also the “young emperors,” the fruits of the country’s one-child policy, put into place in 1979 by the Communist Party in an attempt to alleviate social and economic problems by slowing the growth of its enormous population.

That means almost everybody under the age of 40—the prime consumer purchasing years – coming into their own as the leading purchasers in Chinese society. And, while a staggering number of them are rich according to the Hurun Report – 1.02 million US dollar millionaires and 63,500 “super-rich” with assets US$16 million or more, the average Chinese per capita income by purchasing power parity was estimated at US$9,100, ranking the country 122nd in the world according to the CIA World Factbook.

These young consumers break down into three groups – adolescents between the age of 10 and 19, emerging adults aged 20-29 and full adults 30-39. Each cohort, according to a new study by researchers Qiu Jing and Lin Ruiming for the Seoul-based Samsung Economic Research Institute, grew up under different circumstances and each has different priorities. Unlike emerging adults and full adults, both of which conform to international patterns and have more females than males, the post-1990s generation has far more boys than girls as amniocentesis, abortion and other control methods came into play to fulfill the Chinese ambition to have sons instead of daughters.

Continue reading at Asia Sentinel.