AdAge Q&A with Cynthia Chan

27 Sep 2006|Added Value

Hong Kong native Cynthia Chan, strategic director at the Cheskin consultancy, co-authored China’s New Culture of Cool: Understanding the world’s fastest growing market with colleagues LiAnne Yu and Christopher Ireland. The book profiles youthful trendsetters whose collective actions are the leading edge of change in China and a strong force in the world’s economy.

Ms. Chan, a market research and consulting expert who has worked in mainland China, Japan, South Korea, the U.S. and Germany, specializes in capturing and uncovering consumer insights through a range of qualitative and ethnographic approaches. She recently spoke with AdAgeChina Editor Normandy Madden from her home in San Francisco about the values motivating China’s new urban middle class, particularly more than 200 million consumers under the age of 30 who live in China’s largest cities.AdAgeChina: How did the book come about?

Cynthia Chan: We did a lot of research about China for our clients and gained an understanding about consumers there, particularly China’s urban culture from the point of view of researcher and ethnographer, not business executives. There are a lot of books now out about China, but only a few touch on people and talk about them in an insightful way. We felt that angle was missing.

AdAgeChina: A lot of new factors are shaping China’s middle class, like higher incomes and access to foreign products and styles. Has this led to a gap between China’s modern, urban and rich consumers vs. more traditional lifestyles and poorer, rural Chinese?

Ms. Chan: We didn’t see a gap in between but more a new fusion between modernity and the old traditions, and in rural and urban Chinese. It’s more of a mixture. New cultures are formed that way and feed into how Chinese live their life and what they choose to buy and consume. These hybrid cultures shape their decisions, but it’s not a clash between old and new.

AdAgeChina: Young Chinese are more comfortable in these new hybrid cultures and with new technology like mobile phones and computer games. Has that led to problems between youth and their parents and grandparents, who had such a different experience growing up in China? …

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