On 18th August 2017, Athena Infonomics, Chennai Centre for China Studies and the Indo-Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted an interaction meeting on Emerging Consumption Tide in Small& Medium Cities in China and the Challenge for Japanese Industries at the Savera Hotel in Chennai. The focus of this event was the research presented by Professor Moriki Ohara and his students from the Department of Economics in Ryukoko University, Japan.
The first section of the presentation focused on comparative economic growth of China, Japan, and India: While the two latter have remained either stagnant or seen small growth, the former has seen exceptional increases in GDP and billionaire residencies within its borders. To understand this further, photographs of development from 20 years ago and this past year were presented. The change from dirt and gravel paths to multi-lane roadways cut down travel time of goods and people. Desert landscapes became places of heavy forestation due to changes in farming practices. Prof. Ohara remarked, “China’s development rises up from the bottom, villages start businesses.” This emphasized his reasoning for studying smaller localities rather than Beijing and Shanghai.
The students presented their preliminary study next. Their goal was to find out what would boost Chinese “wish to buy” Japanese products. One hypothesis stated that one’s “image of country” influences their “wish to buy” certain products. The prerequisite hypothesis was that certain media platforms influenced “image of country.” Their media platforms were TV, newspapers, PC, mobile phones, internet home pages, blogs, and forms of social media. The brand factors were safety, usability, superiority, good feeling, and advanced imagery. Their Japanese products were cars from Yamaha Motor Company, instant noodles from Toyo Suisan co. Ltd., and baby goods from Pigeon Corporation. The population surveyed were Japanese consumers. Both hypotheses were tested for correlations using Japanese products and Chinese products, as well as a regression model for further study.
Professor Ohara’s personal study looked at consumer habits of various populations in Qingzhou, the small city and rural zone, Weifang, the medium city, and Qingdao, a large city for control, with 200 respondents of each place, leading to a population of 800. His independent variables were the consumption values: conspicuous, ideal position, and catch-up impetus. His dependent variables were “wish to buy” and consumption propensity, with the passenger car and the diamond ring as his products in question. The hypothesis was that social values of consumption influence the desire for the products.
The result was negative correlations from all social values on their “wish to buy” the diamond ring, and one negative correlation between catch-up impetus and propensity of the car. His reserved conclusion of the study is that Chinese consumer culture is driven more by the individual than “trickle-down economics” of a hierarchical society.
Closing Remarks were given by the Vice-President of the Chennai Center for China Studies, Mr. M. R. Sivaraman, IA, and a Vote of Thanks from Ms. SugunaRamamoorthy, the Secretary General from the Indo-Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Japanese guests and a small group of members attended lunch to further discuss Indo-Japanese economic relations in an intimate setting.