Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has been using big data analytics to study the habits of consumers shopping on its Tmall and Taobao platforms. For the first time, the company has released its consumer behavior data that offers insights into consumption trends in China. The report contains data analysis based on transactions between 2011 and September 2015.

Alibaba's Consumer Behavior Data Reveals Trends In China

Alibaba conducts the most comprehensive study on consumption trends

More than 300 million shoppers purchased goods from its platforms during the given period. So, it is the most detailed study on consumption trends in the world’s second-largest economy. According to the report, Chinese consumers are increasingly buying healthier and smarter. Alibaba found that Chinese buyers mainly purchase in the areas of health, electronics, individualized personal items, and traditional Chinese cultural items.

Xia Ji, marketing director of Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace, said the health category has mainly grown on the back of consumers’ healthier eating habits. The middle-class Chinese people are buying more and more organic foods. The consumption of healthcare products and sports equipment such as rowing machines and treadmills has also skyrocketed.

Chinese consumers’ appetite is also growing for smart electronic devices, especially cleaning robots. Sales of robots have jumped 250% in the last two years. Xia Ji said at least three out of every 10 families have purchased a cleaning robot. Consumers from Liaoning province, Beijing, and Shandong province are the biggest buyers of robots that clean windows.

Qi Xi more popular than Valentine’s Day

Surprisingly, many of the findings don’t match our everyday experiences, said Ji. Chinese consumers have more personalized and diversified needs. Outdoor sports, baby & childcare, and cosmetics categories also witnessed impressive growth. But what took experts by surprise was that people shop far more on Qi Xi, the traditional Chinese Valentine’s Day that falls in August, than they do on the Western Valentine’s Day. Big data tells us that the young Chinese people have started to value their own tradition.

People born in the 80s and 90s are biggest shoppers on Alibaba’s platforms. Those under 25 largely rely on mobile phones for their purchases. Alibaba believes that much of the consumption growth will come from central and west China, which are filled with second- and third-tier cities.