Amid Rich Country Pessimism, Chinese Consumers Remain Upbeat: Global Poll

  • Globescan

London, UK (20 October, 2010)—China has the most confident consumers of the world’s major economies, with 53 per cent expecting to be better off in one year’s time, according to a new GlobeScan poll of consumer confidence across 24 countries. In contrast, there is widespread pessimism in many of the major developed economies.

Over 12,000 consumers were interviewed for the second annual GlobeScan Consumer Sentiment Index survey, which asks a series of questions about consumers’ feelings about their own and their country’s economic prospects. The poll uses the same series of questions developed and applied by the University of Michigan to measure consumer confidence in the USA since the Second World War.

With an overall confidence index score of 105.0, Chinese consumers remain more positive than those in other key economies—although less sanguine than they were last year (113.5 in 2009).

The poll suggests that a full-scale economic recovery may still be some way off. In the 19 countries surveyed in both 2009 and 2010, the proportion of consumers believing now is a good time to make major household purchases remains largely unchanged at just 31 per cent (compared to 30% in 2009).

Emerging economies upbeat, industrialised economies pessimistic

The poll asks consumers to say whether they feel better off than they did twelve months ago, and whether they expect to be better or worse off in twelve months’ time. It also asks consumers what their expectations are for their national economy over the next year and over the next five, as well as whether they feel that now is a good time to purchase major consumer goods.

The results highlight a significant split between consumers in emerging economies—who largely remain upbeat—and those in the large industrialised economies, where confidence is in short supply. Among the world’s key economies, consumers in India were the second most optimistic, and the country has seen the biggest year on year jump in its index score of any nation surveyed, rising from 78.1 in 2009 to 98.5 this year. Major industrialised economies like Germany (69.3), the USA (61.8), the UK (54.9), Japan (49.0), and France (45.2) were much more pessimistic in comparison.

Of the other countries surveyed, the most confident consumers were in Nigeria, with an index score of 105.6, and in the Philippines, where the consumer confidence index rose over 30 points since 2009 to 86.6.

In total 12,253 citizens in 24 countries, were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between 24 June and 11 September, 2010 (the exception being Japan where the fieldwork was conducted online). Polling was conducted by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country. In eight of the 24 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas. The margin of error per country ranges from +/-3.0 to 4.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Doug Miller, GlobeScan Chairman comments, “Our Consumer Sentiment Index suggests there are two economies in the world today; the stalled one seen by pessimistic citizens in industrialised countries; and the one seen as having momentum by relatively optimistic consumers in major developing economies including China, and India.”

Professor Richard Curtin, whose Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan has been polling US consumer sentiment since 1946, commented: “The data clearly indicate the resurgent economic strength among consumers in China and India as well as the more cautious outlook among consumers in the USA and other advanced economies. Overall, the data is consistent with a slowly improving pace of growth in the USA and other Western economies and a much more rapid pace of improvement in Asian countries during the year ahead.”

About GlobeScan
GlobeScan is an international opinion research consultancy. Companies, multilateral institutions, governments, and NGOs trust GlobeScan for its unique expertise in reputation research, sustainability, and issues management. GlobeScan provides global organizations with evidence-based insight and advice to help them build strong brands, manage relations with key stakeholders, and define their strategic positioning. GlobeScan conducts research in over 90 countries, is certified to the ISO 9001:2008 standard for its quality management system, and is a signatory to the UN Global Compact. Established in 1987, GlobeScan is an independent, management-owned company with offices in London, Toronto, and San Francisco.

About the International Consumer Sentiment Index
The Index is calculated based on the results of five questions asked of a representative sample of at least 500 adult consumers in each of 24 countries. Some Index questions were also asked in Brazil. A full questionnaire is appended. An aggregate score is derived based on the proportions giving a positive or negative response to each question. GlobeScan plans to continue to track consumer confidence around the world each year, using this proven method.


  • Prof. Richard T. Curtin
  • Director of Consumer Sentiment Surveys, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
  • +1 734 223 9244