Conspicuous consumption in China


Many economic prognosticators believe Chinese consumption growth is key to a global economic recovery.  The US consumer, who had been the buyer of first and last resort during the bubble years, is tapped out and indebted.  The new engine of global growth must come from elsewhere.

On Friday, BBC Radio 4 released a broadcast called “Selling Cheese to the Chinese” recounting how Europeans and North Americans are aggressively hawking their culinary wares to the burgeoning Chinese middle class. For young twenty-somethings who have lost an appreciation for their own culinary history due to its suppression during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, western products have a certain appeal.


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For those seeking status, there are even French wine and cheese parties designed to ‘educate’ about European culinary delights.  Some can even spend a month’s salary drinking single-malt Scotch in bars.  Welcome to the wonderful world of conspicuous consumption in China.  Is this the new source of global growth?  Western companies and entrepreneurs sure hope so because they are falling all over themselves trying to break into the Chinese market.  Personally, I am sceptical. This report tells the tale.

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