White Paper

White paper: MediaCom decodes China’s booming play economy

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'The Future of Play' uncovers the diverse motivations fuelling Chinese consumers’ desire for play and advises how marketers can use the power of playfulness to drive brand affinity and sales.

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China is a nation of fun-loving consumers and while ‘play’ increasingly influences consumer decision-making in all aspects of daily life, it goes far beyond ‘fun and games’. 'The Future of Play' looks at how opportunities for brands take different forms across different sectors and identifies three key modes of activation for brands to connect with consumers.

The research unpacks the macro trends and consumer motivations and culminates in five strategic approaches to enhance the consumer purchase journey through play. Meanwhile, experts from Mars, Sony, ECCO, Tencent, Dell, and Hasbro share their unique perspectives on how they see Chinese consumers evolving and how their brands are exploring growth opportunities in China’s play economy.

While ‘play’ is often synonymous with ‘fun’, our research revealed that consumers seek out play to satisfy a wide variety of need-states. What’s more, the opportunities for brands take different forms across different sectors going far beyond children’s toys or video games.

In the context of COVID-19, social distancing quickly brought online gaming and virtual ‘cloud’ entertainment into the mainstream as mobile games and short video content became essential to combat loneliness during the period of pandemic control. Now, these short-term adaptations are becoming longer-term habits as more consumers spend more time on online play activities.

Yet, as restrictions have eased, consumers also report a greater love for the physical world. Our trendspotters reported a strong desire to spend time outdoors and to hold on to intergenerational family time post-lockdown through in-person play.

Chinese consumers are spending more money on play and spending more time consuming and creating playful content. Although the immense and evolving play economy is difficult to accurately quantify, many commercial signals indicate its power and potential.

Saw Gin Toh, Head of Insights, MediaCom China said, “As part of our research, we spoke directly with consumers, explored the cultural nuances, societal tensions and technological advances shaping the future of play in China. As a result, eight diverse motivations were uncovered.”

Howard Thompson, Chief Strategy Officer, MediaCom China added, “Play is about so much more than fun. It’s an animating spirit and energy that fuels all consumer motivations in China. When people play, they are their truest selves so we are getting to know consumers better than ever before.”

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