dataSpring initiated its China panel in November 2009. Within this article, we aim to provide insights into conducting online research within the Chinese market.

See more about our China Panel profile




  • Official: Chinese
  • Survey: Simplified Chinese


Because of its vast landmass, significant regional differences must be taken into account when conducting online research in China. Researchers must consider the distribution and/or allocation of samples according to the study background and purpose.

The most common market segmentation in China is by 'Tiers'. It is typical to find new projects targeting 'Tier 1' cities where the economy is advanced, or 'Tier 1' and 'Tier 2' cities. It’s also possible to include 'Tier 3' or the 'whole of China'. Please consult our sales representative for details.

As for city class, the Chinese government doesn't define it formally. Therefore, you will find many variations. Below are the categories adopted as an industry standard and used by dataSpring.

  • Tier 1

    Direct-controlled municipality or cities with more than 160 billion GDP and population over two million

  • Tier 2

    Provincial capital, Special economic zone city, Two cities of Su xi, Other sub-provincial city

  • Tier 3

    Open city of 14 coastal areas, cities with economic development and high revenue


Demographics and Ratio of Panel Composition

When looking at the ratio of panel composition by age, the 20s-30s accounts for 75.1% as the majority. Among this group, those in the 20s account for 57.9% or more, which is more than half of the population. As a result, the census population composition is vastly different from the online research panel distribution. The large 20s-30s generation populates the China research panel online.

Depending on the allocation, collecting data from the older generation might be difficult. This is especially true for age 50s and above on Tier 1, or age 40s and above on Tier 2. There is a possibility that a sufficient number of data cannot be collected.

Population Estimate

Gender (%)
Age group (%)

The data set shown above is available in

Ratio of Panel Composition of dS Panel

Gender (%)
Age group (%)

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Another way to segment the market is by Income. In China, the concept of Socio-Economic Classification (SEC) is not very common. Therefore, when conducting online research among consumers in this market, we target by individual monthly income or by household monthly income.

*SEC is the socioeconomic characteristic that a consumer has - defined by variables such as income, educational background, occupation and so on. It stands for Social Economic Characteristics

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Ethnic composition

The China population is made up of ethnic Han people (about 92% of the total population) and 55 ethnic minorities. However, it is very rare to specify target conditions and allocations based on ethnic composition.


Local Pro Tip

For surveys about high-priced goods, such as vacation overseas and cars, it may be better to target respondents with high income only. In contrast, surveys about daily consumable goods, such as drinks, food, cosmetics, etc., there’s no need to set income conditions.


Precautions in Conducting Online Research

  • We cannot ask about politics or religion.
  • For questions asking about the recognition of products, advertisements, campaigns, etc., we recommend that you divide your choices as much as possible. Due to the characteristics of the Chinese, there is a high possibility that the recognition rate will be higher than the actual situation.

Good example

Q. How well do you know about this event?
"I know well what kind of event it is and I have participated in it"
"I know well what kind of event it is, but I have never participated in it"
"I have heard the name only"
"I don't know at all"

Bad example

Q. How well do you know about this event?
"I know about this event"
"I don't know about this event"
  • The speed of the internet may be slow depending on the area. For this reason, keep these things in mind when preparing a questionnaire:

    • Make sure the number of questions is as few as possible
    • Avoid long videos (over one minute) if possible
    • Avoid questions that can burden the respondents, such as matrix with many items and choices, etc.
    • A good rule of thumb is: the simpler the survey, the better it will be for respondents.
  • During China's National People's Congress, there’s a high chance that the speed of the internet will be even slower. It may take longer than usual to collect the data.

Final Words

China is a huge economy, and many businesses are striving to enter their products and services into its market. It’s no surprise, then, that it is dataSpring’s most in-demand panel.

Before conducting online or mobile surveys in China, it’s important to know its basic profile. For more in-depth information, talk to our Local Experts today!

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