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Rational Consumption Revolution: Navigating Consumer Trends in 2023 Across Sectors and Platforms

As we navigate through 2023, a new era of consumerism is emerging, characterized by a shift towards rational consumption and a focus on comfortable and healthy living. This article, inspired by QuestMobile's insightful report, delves into the evolving consumer landscape, highlighting key trends across various sectors and platforms.


Rational and Self-Indulgent Consumption: A Dual Dynamic in 2023

The Shift in Consumption Dynamics

In 2023, consumer behaviour is characterised by a dual dynamic: rational consumption and self-indulgent consumption. This trend reflects a nuanced shift in consumer values and priorities.


Steady Recovery of Consumer Demand: The first three quarters of 2023 witnessed a steady recovery in consumer demand. However, this increase in consumer spending has not been in sync with the growth in disposable income. The widening gap between these two indicates a subtle yet significant change in consumer attitudes.


Divergent Trends in Different Demographics: In First-tier and new first-tier developed cities, as well as among female consumers, there's a noticeable uptick in spending power. However, it's important to note a contrasting trend among the younger demographic, particularly those under 30, who are exhibiting a clear "consumption contraction."

Rational Consumption as a Growing Trend

  • The Rise of Practicality

In recent years, there's been a noticeable pivot towards rational consumption. Consumers are increasingly seeking value and practicality in their purchases. This trend is vividly illustrated by the surge in content related to rational consumption on platforms like Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book), where over 760,000 posts on this theme were recorded in October alone. Additionally, the user base of second-hand trading apps and budgeting apps has seen significant growth, indicating a more pragmatic approach to spending.

  • Quality, Price, Brand, and Experience

Consumers are now more attentive to quality, price, brand, and experience, with respective attention rates reaching 60.5%, 60.1%, 59.8%, and 34.2%. This shift is influencing the strategies of e-commerce platforms, especially during major shopping events like Double 11. This is underpinned by two key concepts:  Quality-Price Ratio (质价比) and Emotional Value Ratio (心价比).

Consumer Behavior Across Sectors

  • Food and Beverages: Health-Conscious Choices

The food and beverage sector is seeing a trend towards health and wellness. "Home-cooked gourmet" has become a new fashion, boosting the user base of fresh food e-commerce and recipe-sharing apps. These individuals adhere to the principle of eating for wellness, leading the trend in food and beverage consumption. The focus on health is also reflected in the popularity of sugar-free and tea beverages on social media platforms.

  • Apparel: Practicality and Minimalism

In apparel, practicality and minimalism are prevailing themes. The consumer base for athletic apparel spans various age groups, displaying characteristics of both high engagement and high spending. This presents a market space with high inclusivity for brands targeting different product segments. The concept of "one garment, multiple wears" and "versatility" is gaining traction, as seen in the high sales of versatile clothing items like jackets on platforms like Douyin (TikTok).

  • Personal Care Appliances: Paying for Technology

The personal care appliance sector is growing, driven by a consumer preference for comfort and technology. Consumers of personal care and small home appliances are concentrated within the demographic of 40 years old and below. Their notable high-end spending capacity drives brands to accelerate innovation, delve into technology, and cultivate a high-quality market environment. High-end beauty instruments, hair dryers, and other appliances are seeing significant sales, indicating a willingness to invest in quality and innovation.

Platform Audience Portraits and Comparison

  • Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book): The Hub of Rational Consumption

Demographic Profile: Xiaohongshu's audience primarily consists of young, urban, and tech-savvy individuals, with a significant proportion of female users.

Consumer Behavior: This platform has become a hub for sharing experiences and insights about products, focusing on quality, authenticity, and value for money. The content related to rational consumption, such as budget-friendly shopping tips and product reviews, is particularly popular.

Impact on Consumption: Xiaohongshu influences its users towards more informed and value-conscious purchasing decisions, aligning with the trend of rational consumption.

  • Douyin (TikTok): The Arena of Self-Indulgent Consumption

Demographic Profile: Douyin attracts a diverse audience, but it's particularly popular among younger generations who are drawn to dynamic and engaging content.

Consumer Behavior: On Douyin, there's a strong focus on visual appeal and trendiness. The platform is a breeding ground for viral trends and impulsive buying, often driven by emotional appeal and the desire for instant gratification.

Impact on Consumption: Douyin plays a significant role in shaping self-indulgent consumption habits, where emotional value and the joy of the experience are key factors in purchasing decisions.

  • E-commerce Platforms: Balancing Rational and Self-Indulgent Consumption

Demographic Profile: E-commerce platforms like Tmall and cater to a broad audience, offering a wide range of products to suit various needs and preferences.

Consumer Behavior: These platforms have become adept at balancing the rational and self-indulgent aspects of consumption. They offer competitive pricing and detailed product information to satisfy rational consumers while also providing personalized recommendations and flash sales to appeal to the self-indulgent shopper.

Impact on Consumption: E-commerce platforms are unique in their ability to cater to both sides of consumer behaviour, offering value for money while also tapping into the emotional aspect of shopping.


The landscape of consumerism in 2023 is marked by a shift towards rational consumption, with a focus on quality, practicality, and health-conscious choices. This trend is influencing consumer behaviour across various sectors and platforms, offering new challenges and opportunities for businesses and marketers. Understanding these shifts is crucial for aligning with consumer expectations and driving engagement in this new era of consumerism. By aligning with these trends, brands can create more impactful, resonant marketing campaigns and product offerings that meet the evolving demands of today's consumers.


Contact us to explore how we can help you align your brand with the latest consumer trends and maximize your impact in the digital marketplace.

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