OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — "The urbanisation of China is only just underway,” says Kevin Sneader, global managing partner at McKinsey & Company. This statement may seem a far cry from the gleaming sprawls of Shanghai, Beijing, or fishing village-turned-metropolis Shenzhen, but as Sneader notes, these cities are only represent one side of the economic — and literal — landscape of China.
Speaking at BoF VOICES, Sneader dispels the oft-held misconception of China — and the Chinese consumer — as a monolith. Put simply, "there is no one China;" 48 percent of the country's population still lives in rural areas, and the relatively low e-commerce penetration in poorer cities such as Kunming highlights the stark flip side of the country's so-called digital revolution.
Also worth noting is the “vigorous political debate” over the best approach to an ageing population and rising debt, among other challenges. Whether the country's leaders opt for a more corrective model centred on production or maintain blistering consumer growth will determine China's economic trajectory.
What remains at the heart of understanding the Chinese market, however, is that its consumers cannot be reduced to a single demographic profile, he said.
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