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Posted by Jerry Gelsomino | Topic: Research

Reflection

9 Sep
2012

It's been several weeks since I've launched this blog to get your opinions and point of view about news articles and situations involving a quest for status or improvement of current standing in society by Asians.

While the community I am sending the inquiries to is today quite compact, I plan to enlarge the field of commentators by inviting my new cadre of students at university to join. Before I do however, I'd appreciate any comments by you on the content, clarity or appropriateness of my questions? Are you having any technical difficulties with the blog website?

Your opinions are crucial to the success of my studies.

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3 Sep
2012

In this weekend's South China Post, and article profiled how many Chinese parents are spending a small fortune to give their children a taste of the world.

The article described how "A growing number of affluent parents are sending their children overseas to improve their English and develop critical thinking skills. "Those who seek wisdom should read 10,000 books and travel 10,000 miles, the Chinese saying goes, and while one could easily spend a lifetime accomplishing the first task, many affluent mainland parents are increasingly choosing to put their children on the path to scholarship by sending them overseas for a season."

Agencies who organize overseas summer camps for primary and secondary school pupils report an explosion in the number of parents willing to shell out up to 40,000 Yuan (HK$49,000) - twice the annual per capita disposal income of the average urban mainlander - to introduce their children to the world beyond China.” Many of the students are said to become quite enamored with their visits to Europe and the U.S., determined for a longer stay by attending university overseas.

This situation appears to be another case of status gaining by parents and their children as they strive for a sampling of life outside of China. But what is gained by this exposure? What academic or social experiences are most desired through this international adventure?

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19 Aug
2012

"Teach your children well, Their father's hell did slowly go by, And feed them on your dreams The one they picked, the one you'll know by." Lyrics by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, 1970

In last week's Shanghai Daily.com, writers delved into the topic of China's pampered children; the little emperors and empresses, and the current trends in nurturing methods used by parents.

"Raise a daughter in an easy, comfortable environment, but raise a boy in a rigorous way" (fu yang nu, qiong yang nan), the saying goes, passed down over thousands of years.

But with China's quantum leap into modernization and urban prosperity for many, the old wisdom has been drowned out by the sound of a middle class getting rich and wanting to pass on to the children the ease and advantages they never had.

Both urban boys and girls have been pampered, many to excess, and as a result, there's much hand-wringing about 'materialistic girls' and especially boys who are weak and unmanly ��" parents have gone too far, some say, in giving them everything they want."

A whole 'boys' movement' has arisen to help boys get back in touch with their tougher, masculine side. As for girls, the old adage about a protected and comfortable environment appears to hold true and some parents even go overboard, introducing their girls to the better things in life in hopes that they won't settle for less when they marry."

What do you think about how parents guide and prepare their children for their future status in society? How were you driven by your family and what qualities were you encouraged to develop for success in life?

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12 Aug
2012

It's the fourth week of submitting inquiries to you. I'm citing observations and others' opinions about Asian consumer behavior that have attracted my curiosity. I hope these issues are also of interest to you and help you to better know the shopper and what your business needs to do to cater to them.

As you know, the weekly distribution of topics remains accessible on my blog and you can join in the discussion at any time. One final note: If you have had trouble posting or recording your post on the blog, please excuse the difficulty and email me with you experiences.

Physical Appearance Status

This study is meant to determine to what extreme the Asian consumer will go to satisfy their desire to improve or gain status. But in several articles published recently, it has been noted that some factions of the public in the region will take to extremes to protect or change their appearance is a quest for a desired level of status. In SCMP, a feature was printed about the growing popularity of "face masks" wore by sun bathers at local beaches.

Photo from SCMP

For many middle-class Chinese women, the desire for pale skin outweighs the shocked looks and joking comments by fellow beach-goers. The publication quoted an idiom, which women, young and old know by heart, "Fair skin conceals a thousand flaws."

In Shanghai, hospitals report a growing trend of "minors, mostly 15 to 18 years old, often received double eyelid surgery to widen the appearance of the eye, the least risky and most popular cosmetic procedure for minors. But having a face lift is not recommended until a person is at least 18 years old." Other requested cosmetic surgeries, requiring implants, are also refused by the hospitals for teens whose bodies are still developing. This growth in cosmetic surgery requests by this market segment is fueled by "dreams of stardom among youngsters and a more open attitude by parents."

http://www.shanghaidaily.com/sp/article//Metro/2012/08/08/Plastic+surgery+trendy+among+minors+but+risky

What do you think of these status-driven trends? Do you think the desire to look attractive or of a specific cultural level encourage extreme, risky or dangerous behavior? And what about parents attitude towards it?

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16 Jul
2012

A Chinese tour guide first let me in on the cultural legend. Then I saw it in print, quoting a Japanese press article titled, "The three most-wanted, a mirror of the economic situation." An unnamed cultural anthropologist had defined and recorded the materialistic desires of the Chinese consumer, reflecting the nation's increasing affluence and sophisticated wants. In the 1950s, it was a watch, bike and sewing machine; TV set, refrigerator and washing machine in the 1980s; phone, computer and air conditioning in the 1990s. I am told that the purchasing of such modern conveniences even pre-dated electricity in some regions.

Today as the selection of goods are so widely available throughout most of China, it is understandable that there is no longer a single, uniform wish-list. Housing, an automobile, and children's education would find a place on some tallies. Currently, Smartphone ownership in China totals 33% of the total population, and growing as the country has demonstrated a passion for going mobile, so the latest mobile phone technology would be high on other lists. And in Tianjin province, 85% of primary school students who received gifts for International Children's Day, asked their parents to give them brand-name sports shoes.

As our purpose is to follow and analyze materialistic desires as methods to gain or improve status through consumer behavior, we ask you, "If a nationwide survey was done today, what would be the three most sought after items by Chinese people?"

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