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Chinese consumers come up with more ways to personalise their world

It should be no surprise for those who have been to China, or ever met a Chinese person, to know that they like taking self-portraits with the cameras on their phones. It is also part of the broader, global trend that we’ve dubbed Selfie, where consumers strive to personalise their world through projecting their own image, words or ideas onto products and services.

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Cameron selfie with Jack Ma (the owner of Alibaba)

In China, the broader Selfie trend seems to have few gender, age, geographical or industry differences. In China, the message that “I am different and special” seems to be an especially important one to convey through lifestyle, clothing, cars and drinks.

For instance, Taobao, the largest e-commerce business in the world and the Chinese equivalent of Amazon, bought 12 production lines to produce customised homeware electronic devices, which on the first day of sale in China sold 180,000 units.

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Taobao front page showing the process of customised services and products

In the wine world, observant businesses have also seen this trend and responded accordingly. It is now quite common to see “customised label” wines appearing with more personal messages, particularly as wine remains closely connected with celebrations such as weddings, birthdays and Chinese New Year. These are generally made from bulk wines that have been bottled and labelled locally.

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Wine picture with wedding couple’s picture

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Wine with Chinese new year message and pictures of the gift receiver

Clearly, putting customers’ photos on wine bottles won’t work for everyone, and it is probably no more than a niche market. However the broader point is still valid; successful brands in China look at consumers’ needs and trends and respond to those needs carefully, thoughtfully – and sometimes individually. Taobao’s personalised electricals business started by using customer data to analyse what they wanted to buy, what colour preferences they had, what functions do they want to produce the best combination. This is now the Chinese consumers’ expectation; they want to see a brand that cares about their needs, address them individually and personally and can reflect their image in a positive way