Natalie Meyer
Natalie Meyer
9 December 2020 0 Comments

China has the largest climate variance of any country in the world, which means that weather conditions are an important factor for brands to account for.

Weather has the ability to literally rain on an ill prepared marketer’s parade given that it has the most significant impact on consumer behaviour after the economy.

Weather and temperatures influence everything from lifestyles and behaviour to the emotional state of consumers. Given this directly influences their purchasing decisions and willingness to spend, an understanding of China’s vast geographic differences is essential knowledge for anyone doing business in China. More on regional variations down below.

Taking these climate disparities into account, below are examples of how some categories are strongly influenced by climate and weather:

Chinese food selection by region
Food & beverage:

Historically, before trade covered long distances, the Chinese diet varied across regions based on what could be grown locally. This resulted in more wheat-based diets such as noodles and buns in the north, and rice in the south.  Many of these preferences still exist today.

The colder weather in the north also sees diets being heavier and heartier with meat and oil, versus the lighter and healthier diets in the south. While popular in the north and northwest, lamb meat isn’t popular in southern and eastern regions. Similarly, seafood isn’t as much of a preference outside of coastal areas.

Influenced by Russian and Korean neighbours, and longer winters indoors, northerners tend to consume more alcohol and have a stronger drinking culture, while southerners favour tea.

chinese fashion by region
Fashion:

Climate has a strong bearing on how much people rug up in China, with northerners and westerners typically having much thicker clothing in the winter. But even when the summer rolls around, Chinese consumers in the south tend to be much less conservative in their dress.

Size-wise, northerners are usually larger too, with the average Beijinger being taller and more likely to be overweight than people further south. The obesity rate in Beijing is over 25 percent, while the national average is less than 12 percent.

chinese beauty by region
Beauty:

With cold, dry winters in the north and northeast, consumer products like intense moisturizing creams and lip balms are essential items to combat dry and chapped skin on faces, hands and bodies. Similarly, higher pollution in the north and northeast is a consideration for skin care purchases.

Shampoos that add volume to limp hair are better marketed to consumers living in dry climates in the north of China, while shampoos which combat hair frizz in humid conditions are suited to southern and central regions. Lighter, less greasy moisturizers which contain SPF protection are also comfortable options for consumers living in China’s hotter southern areas.

chinese fitness by region
Fitness / outdoors:

People living in China’s eastern and southern provinces are able to get outside to exercise for more of the year, thanks to warmer weather conditions and lower pollution rates in the south. Athleisure clothing outdoor fitness apparel are great products to market in these regions, while indoor gym equipment may prove more popular in tier one cities in the north. With snow sports becoming increasingly popular in China, now is the time for ski-focused companies to market to China’s northern-based consumers, especially with the winter Olympics in Beijing just around the corner.


Health:

As people are more likely to exercise and get out in regions further south, health conditions in these areas can be quite different to those in other regions. For example, in the north, health impacts from sedentary lifestyles are more common, whereas exercise injuries and joint pains happen more where exercise is prevalent.

You might expect issues around common colds to be more common in the freezing north of China, but this isn’t always the case. People north of the Yangtze river in places like Beijing have government subsidised heating, so interiors are often much warmer than they are in cities like Shanghai.

However, with cities like Beijing that are polluted and dry, consumers in the north are more likely to purchase air purifiers and humidifiers to combat associated health risks.

Chinese tourists by region
Tourism

The holiday choices of Chinese people are impacted by the local climate in the same way that they are all over the world.

Just as European living close to the Mediterranean are less likely to take big trips to these hotspots than tourists from northern Europe or the U.K., the same applies for Chinese to some degree.

While Australian beaches can look quite attractive to a Chinese person in the middle of a freezing northern winter, cuddling koalas may hold more appeal to someone living in subtropical Guangzhou. Although airline connections also have a big impact, our research at China Skinny has found that messaging and positioning of destinations can often be more resonant when regionally localised for what is important.

 

China’s Regional Weather Variations

china regions map

North China

Where: Beijing
Average high of 31°C during July (hottest month)
Average high of 2°C during January (coldest month)
Conditions: Pollution is the most significant weather factor. PM2.5 particles in the air can be six times above the level deemed safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency

Where: Tianjin
Average high of 31°C in July (hottest month)
Average high of 2°C during January (coldest month)

Northeast China

Where: Harbin
Average high of 27°C in July (hottest month)
Average high of -12°C in January (coldest month)
Conditions: Freezing winds coming in from Siberia

East China

Where: Shanghai
Average high of 31°C during July (hottest month)
Average high of 7°C during January (coldest month)

Where: Hangzhou
Average high of 31°C during July (hottest month)
Average high of 7°C during January (coldest month)

Where: Suzhou
Average high of 31°C during July (hottest month)
Average high of 7°C during January (coldest month)

South-central China

Where: Changsha
Average high of 33°C during August (hottest month)
Average high of 9°C during January (coldest month)

South China

Where: Guangzhou
Average high of 31°C during July (hottest month)
Average high of 18°C during January (coldest month)
Conditions: Humid. Average of 233-276mm of monsoon rainfall (summer, from April to September). Both Hong Kong and Guilin have more rainfall. Typhoon season is from May to December, but particularly July to September, and wind can reach 194km/h.

Where: Shenzhen
Average high of 31°C during July (hottest month)
Average high of 18°C during January (coldest month)

Where: Sanya
Average high of 32°C during July (hottest month)
Average high of 26°C during January (coldest month)

Southwest China

Where: Kunming
Average high of 25°C during July (hottest month)
Average high of 15°C during January (coldest month)

Where: Chongqing
Average high of 33°C during August (hottest month)
Average high of 10°C during January (coldest month)

Where: Chengdu
Average high of 30°C during August (hottest month)
Average high of 9°C during January (coldest month)

Northwest China

Where: Xi’an
Average high of 32°C during July (hottest month)
Average high of 4°C during January (coldest month)

To understand the needs and wants of any Chinese demographic, it helps to see the big picture to understand how to connect with your target consumer at a meaningful level. That’s where we come in.

At China Skinny, our team of local and international experts are your eyes and ears on the ground. Having worked with 200 international brands across 64 industries, we’re uniquely positioned to help you understand how to market your products and services in China. Get in touch today to learn more about how we may be able to assist.