China’s Little Sisters Power drives consumption

China’s female consumers – so-called “Little Sisters” or the “she economy” – is becoming increasingly influential in post-pandemic brand-building in the world’s second largest economy.

Doreen Wang, CEO of Kantar China, guest speaker at the Greater China Conference 2021 shared that in China the key words for consumers included pride versus pragmatism.  Chinese feel a sense of pride that their government has been able to effectively control the Covid-19 pandemic.

Similarly, the pandemic has made them health conscious, yet they also want to spend more time and money on themselves -- a new balance between health and indulgence. At the same time, new brands are emerging, but uniquely to China, there has been a resurgence in old brands. Adding to the conundrum, shoppers are seeking bargains but also premium products.

What is certain, however is that the “she economy” is developing rapidly, Ms. Wang said. And they are not just millennials, but Generation Z consumers and even their grandmothers. “Females are participating more,” she said in a session.

Ms. Wang added the most successful brands were those that had deep-rooted themselves in the hearts of consumers. In the past 10 years, companies with stronger brands had grown 4.5 times faster than other MSCI China growth stocks. For the brands attracting most loyalty, that growth was 6.7 times.  “Valuable brands deliver superior returns,” she said.

That said, the popularity of leading brands has changed rapidly over the years. “Change is the only thing that doesn’t change in China,” Ms. Wang said.

Little sister power isn’t just noticeable in traditionally female dominated categories such as cosmetics. Wang said male-dominated categories were now focused on “she.”