CHINESE consumers rate value highly ahead of price when they buy products, and this factor encourages more than 80 percent of domestic and overseas companies to "develop new and better products," according to a survey released yesterday.

Based on interviews of more than 150 Chinese and multinational companies, the latest China Consumer Market Strategies survey found that 83 percent of them identified value as a major differentiator that can increase brand loyalty, and 87 percent expect consumers' willingness to pay more for quality products and services to increase.

The consumers' high preference for value is a sharp departure from the past when price drove many purchasing decisions, and the survey, released by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and Booz & Co, described them as value consumers.

"Value consumers are a critical component in the growth of a vibrant consumer base," said Joni Bessler, director at Booz & Co. "It is because their buying behavior, or their focus on quality instead of cost, encourages companies to develop new and better products."

The report suggested firms focus on product innovation, marketing and branding, sales and distribution, as well as retaining skilled people in order to succeed in China.

The gap between overseas firms and their Chinese counterparts is also narrowing, he said, as they "view opportunities, challenges and trends in the China consumer marketplace similarly."

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