According to the latest survey, there is an ongoing decline in Indians’ inclination to purchase Chinese products. Over the past year, almost half of the surveyed individuals refrained from buying items labelled “Made in China,” and 64% abstained from having Chinese applications (Apps) installed on their mobile phones.
A recent poll results released on December 7 by the Indian research agency LocalCircles highlight the increasing presence of international brands in the Indian market. Consumers now prioritise the place of origin before making purchases, with 63% of respondents citing geopolitical tensions between China and India as a reason for choosing “Made in India” products. In contrast, 45% of respondents acknowledged not buying any “Made in China” products in the past 12 months, even though many globally recognised brands sold in India may originate from China.
The survey shed light on the reasons behind the declining preference for “Made in China” products. Sixteen per cent of respondents switched to “Made in India” products due to their cost-effectiveness and superior customer service. At the same time, 13% opted for non-Chinese foreign products based on a holistic evaluation of price, quality, and customer service.
Gadgets and electronic/mobile accessories are the top categories in which Indians continue to buy Made in China products
Despite the overall trend, the survey identifies gadgets and electronic/mobile accessories as the top categories where Indians continue to purchase “Made in China” products. More than half of the respondents (56%) admitted to buying Chinese gadgets, i.e. smartphones, smartwatches, power banks, and other electronic/mobile accessories products, in the past year, with 49% focusing on festival-related items, lighting, lamps, candles, water guns, and 33% on toys and stationery. In comparison, 26% indicated consumer electronics and appliances such as televisions, air purifiers, and kettles.
64% Say No to Chinese App
The data also reveals a strong aversion to Chinese apps, with 64% of respondents having yet to install them on their phones. However, 23% of surveyed Indian smartphone users still have one or more Chinese apps installed, despite ongoing concerns about data theft and government actions against these apps.
The survey coincides with India’s recent move to ban over 100 websites facilitating task-based/organised illegal investment-related economic crimes, demonstrating the government’s continued efforts to address security and sovereignty concerns. Over the last few years, India has banned around 250 Chinese apps, alleging that they are “prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state and public order”.
Boost to ‘Make in India’
The impact of government warnings and initiatives like “Make in India” and production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes on reducing reliance on Chinese products remains uncertain. While India’s trade with China declined in the first half of 2023, the country’s dependence on Chinese raw materials, particularly in key sectors like pharmaceuticals and chemicals, persists. The study emphasises the need for continued examination of consumer preferences and economic dynamics amid the evolving landscape of Indo-Chinese relations.
Bilateral trade between the two nations amounted to $66.02 billion in the initial half of this year, as reported by China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC). During this period, India’s imports from China experienced a slight decline of 0.9%, reaching $56.53 billion compared to $57.51 billion in the first half of 2022. Simultaneously, India’s exports to China also decreased by 0.6%, totalling $9.49 billion.
India continues to rely heavily on raw materials from China, particularly active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), chemicals, machinery, auto components, and medical supplies. A study conducted by the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) revealed that Chinese imports play a significant role in enhancing India’s manufacturing capabilities and boosting exports in critical sectors such as inorganic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, iron, and steel.
The research emphasised that these imports not only supplied essential raw materials but also increased productivity in various industries. Among the 32 product subcategories imported from China, the study found that it was the most cost-effective supplier in nearly one-third of cases. Despite cheaper alternatives being available for the remaining 70%, the preference for Chinese products persisted.
Over the past decade, a significant portion of India’s imports from China has comprised medium to low-technology products. However, a noticeable change has emerged in recent years, especially following heightened anti-China sentiments arising from border issues. This shift has prompted traders to increasingly opt for locally manufactured products, thereby contributing to the success of the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
In conclusion, despite the escalating anti-China sentiments and the growing acknowledgement and benefits of choosing products made in India, the inclination to shift away from Chinese products, especially in the domain of gadgets and electronic/mobile accessories, remains predominant. This category continues to be the top choice for Indians when purchasing Made in China products.