Impact & Expertise

Press Releases

  • October 01, 2012
  • U.S. and U.K. Consumers Are Scared, Stressed and Anxious While Chinese Consumers Remain Optimistic in the Face of the Economic Slowdown, According to New Research by The Boston Consulting Group

  • A New BCG Book Says That China’s Consumers Offer a Beacon of Hope to Western Companies Amid Low Relative Confidence Levels Among U.S. And U.K. Consumers, and That by 2020, Chinese Consumers—in Combination with Those in India—Will Be Spending Nearly $10 Trillion on Goods and Services, or Three Times the Amount They Spent in 2010

BOSTON, October 1, 2012—Chinese consumers remain optimistic, even as their economy experiences a temporary slowdown, according to The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). This optimism is in stark contrast with U.S. and U.K. consumers, whose confidence in their own future and the future of their country in the global economy remains at low levels.

In a survey of Chinese, U.S., and U.K. consumers, BCG found that 40 percent of Chinese consumers said that they are planning to spend more money in the next 12 months than they did in the past 12 months—ensuring that they will continue to be an engine of consumer expenditure for the global economy. This level is up from 36 percent in 2011 and 23 percent in 2010. By contrast, fewer than one in ten consumers (9 percent) in both the U.S. and the U.K. said that they are planning to spend more in the next year.

The findings coincide with the launch of The $10 Trillion Prize: Captivating the Newly Affluent in China and India, a book by a team of BCG consultants that is being published by Harvard Business Review Press. The book presents in great detail the expected growth in spending in China and India between 2010 and 2020. By the end of the decade, consumers in the two countries are predicted to spend nearly $10 trillion annually—three times the amount they spent in 2010. It also presents a manual for business leaders who want to capture a slice of the prize.

Michael J. Silverstein, a senior partner based in BCG’s Chicago office and a coauthor of The $10 Trillion Prize, said, “Chinese consumers are a beacon of hope. They believe they will earn more, they will spend more, and their children will have a better life. They don’t see a global conflict on the horizon."

“U.S. and U.K. consumers, on the other hand, remain guarded, stressed, and anxious,” he said. “They are suffering the consequences of four years of recession and continued talk of a ‘double dip.’ They read the gloomy headlines from around the world and are filled with fear.”

The optimism of the Chinese—and the pessimism of citizens in the West—is reflected in a number of indicators:

  • Only 19 percent of the Chinese respondents said that they were not financially secure—compared with 51 percent of U.S. respondents and 42 percent of U.K. respondents.

  • More than half of the Chinese respondents (51 percent) believe that there will be a full economic recovery—compared with 27 percent of U.S. respondents and 21 percent in the U.K.

  • Some 86 percent of Chinese respondents think that life will improve over the next ten years—compared with 67 percent of U.S. respondents.

  • Some 80 percent of Chinese think that their children will have a better life than they did—compared with just 24 percent in both the U.S. and the U.K.

The survey found that 60 percent of U.S. consumers and 55 percent of U.K. consumers are anxious about the future—compared with 34 percent of Chinese consumers. They are also more fearful about the prospect of a global conflict: nearly 70 percent think that there will be a conflict, compared with 43 percent of Chinese.

Yet for all the optimism in China, the consumers there are not as content as those in the U.S. Only 18 percent said that their “happiness” exceeded their expectations—compared with 31 percent in the U.S.

In a sign that they want to carry on improving their lot, Chinese respondents ranked education as their number one priority if they were given a 25 percent increase in their discretionary spending. By contrast, U.S. consumers, asked the same question, listed savings as their top priority. They ranked education ninth of 14 categories, tied with hobbies, electronics, and home furniture and décor.

BCG’s Center for Consumer and Customer Insight surveyed 4,000 consumers in China, the United States, and the United Kingdom in August 2012. This undertaking was designed to supplement its annual global survey of more than 20,000 consumers, and complemented the extensive in-the-field interviews featured in The $10 Trillion Prize.

The $10 Trillion Prize: Captivating the Newly Affluent in China and India, by Michael J. Silverstein, Abheek Singhi, Carol Liao, and David Michael, is being published on October 2, 2012.

For more information, please go to

To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or

About features the latest thinking from BCG experts as well as from CEOs, academics, and other leaders. It covers issues at the top of senior management’s agenda. It also provides unprecedented access to BCG’s extensive archive of thought leadership stretching back 50 years to the days of Bruce Henderson, the firm’s founder and one of the architects of modern management consulting. All of our content—including videos, podcasts, commentaries, and reports—can be accessed by PC, mobile, iPad, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

About The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 82 offices in 46 countries.

Recent Releases

  • May 21, 2015 Leadership at All Levels of South Africa Is Needed to Address Four Key Social and Economic Problems view full release
  • May 11, 2015 Beleaguered Investment Banks Facing Uphill Battle view full release
  • May 01, 2015 The Internet Now Contributes 10 Percent of GDP to the UK Economy, Surpassing the Manufacturing and Retail Sectors view full release
  • April 30, 2015 The Boston Consulting Group Launches Institute in Honor of Founder Bruce Henderson's 100th Birthday view full release
  • April 30, 2015 Striking Gap Between Where Brazil's Leading Retailers Operate Now and Where Consumer Demand Will Be in the Future view full release
  • April 28, 2015 A New Study Explores the Link Between European Railway Performance and Allocation of Public Subsidies view full release
  • April 28, 2015 Mexico Is Ready for a Takeoff in Consumer Spending, Powered by Rapid Growth in Middle-Income Households view full release
  • April 23, 2015 Growing, Shifting Digital Use in India Means Big Changes for Marketers and Media Companies view full release
  • April 21, 2015 New Report Details the Likely Evolution of the Market for Self-Driving Cars view full release
  • April 20, 2015 New Report Explores Long-Term Challenges to Global ICT Ecosystem view full release

Accelerating Out of the Great Recession

Accelerating Out of the Great RecessionThis book details what high-performing companies must do to seize advantage in a slow-growth environment. more

BCG Offices

Globe BCG has more than 80 offices around the world. Learn about our global presence.

Social Impact

We are compelled to utilize our expertise to work with humanitarian organizations that impact local communities and the world at large. More