Since economic reforms began in 1978, China has experienced rapid economic growth, becoming apparently the world’s largest consumer market. However, despite the size and the potential of this market, there are still serious gaps in academic formal understanding of the Chinese buyer behavior in the modern retail environment. Moreover, when referring to Private Label Brands (PLBs) of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) marketed by local or foreign retailers in China, knowledge is so far primal.
Private labels have been examined in the literature for more than 50 years. Due to the rapid and unavoidable growth of PLB share among retailers’ sales, researchers have looked into different influential factors in attempting to find out the reasons behind the success of these store products. As consumers’ attitudes impact the demand side of FMCGs, their perceptions critically affect decisions on brand selection and therefore the overall performance of PLBs.
The broad aim of this research is to understand attitudinal and behavioral patterns of urban Chinese consumers toward PLB FMCGs at global retailers’ stores operating in China through a systematic analysis and evaluation of their perceptions and behavior.
For this purpose, six specific research questions are addressed.
Following the discussion of these research findings and their comparison with those of previous studies, we found that findings about consumer attitudes and perceptions generally supported previous studies on relevant topics, but also gave us new and specific patterns of urban Chinese consumers. Price consciousness was found as the strongest construct that positively influences PLB purchase. Also, when selecting a product in a supermarket, quality appears to be the second most important factor after price.
Brand sensitivity construct observation has led to interesting findings, showing that urban Chinese shoppers do not rely on brand as one of the most important criteria for purchasing a grocery product in a supermarket. However, brand, as product selection criteria in a supermarket, still remains relatively important ranked by shoppers in third place after price and quality. Country-of-Origin effect, a well-known influencing parameter in South-East Asia, was found to be of least importance, ranked fourth out of four by shoppers after price, quality, and brand. In addition, this study also investigates the impact of socio-demographics characteristics on the purchase of PLBs. Female gender, age, level of education, household size, and annual household income were all found to correlate with PLB acceptance proneness, indicating major differences compared with Western shoppers consumption patterns and behavior.
The findings make a valid empirical contribution to the relevant topics of understanding. They also bring important theoretical and managerial implications to academic researchers and retail marketing practitioners working with Chinese consumers in the modern retail environment for