dataSpring's Robust China Research Panel | EYE ON ASIA

Written by Kanako Sudo
Est. reading time: 8 minute(s)

dataSpring's Robust China Research Panel


dataSpring launched its China panel website in October 2009. Since 2015, the company began including Chinese partner panels within its online research panel platform, surveyon Partners. In this article, we will share some tips in conducting online research in China.



  • 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
  • Direct-controlled municipality:
    • Bei Jing City, Shang Hai City, Tian Jin City, Chong Qing City
  • Cities with more than 160 billion GDP and population over two million:
    • Shen Yang city, Da Lian city, Ha Er Bin city, Nan Jing city, Hang Zhou city, Ji Nan city, Qing Dao city, Wu Han city, Guang Zhou city, Shen Zhen city, Cheng Du city, Xi An

Tier 2

Provincial capital, Special economic zone city, Two cities of Su xi, Ohter sub-provincial city
  • Provincial capital
    • Shi Jia Zhuang city, Tai Yuan city, Hu He Hao Te city, Chang Chun city, He Fei city , Fu Zhou city, Fu Jian , Nan Chang city , Zheng Zhou city , Chang Sha city , Nan Ning city , Hai Kou city , Gui Yang city , Kun Ming city , La Sa city , Lan Zhou city , Yin Chuan city , Wu Lu Mu Qi city
  • Special economic zone city
    • Shan Tou city, Xia Men city, Zhu Hai city
  • Two cities of Su xi
    • Su Zhou city, Wu Xi city
  • Other sub-provincial city
    • Ning Bo city, San Ya cityTier 3

Tier 3

Open city of 14 coastal areas, cities with economic development and high revenue
  • Tang Shan city, Qin Huang Dao city, Xu Zhou city, Chang Zhou city, Nan Tong city, Lian Yun Gang city, Zhen Jiang city, Wen Zhou city, Jia Xing city, Shao Xing city, Jin Hua city, Tai Zhou city, Quan Zhou city, Zi Bo city, Yan Tai city, Wei Hai city, Fu Shan city, Jiang Men city, Zhan Jiang city, Hui Zhou city, Dong Guan city, Zhong Shan city, Gui Lin city, Bei Hai city


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.


% est. pop. *1 Ratio of Panel Composition for dS panel
Male 51.08% 53.72%
Female 48.92% 46.28%
15-19yo 5.51% 14.94%
20-29yo 10.99% 38.80%
30-39yo 15.70% 28.25%
40-49yo 14.01% 11.44%
50-59yo 16.98 4.65%
60yo+ 19.86% 1.91%

* 1 Reference website:



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 defined by variables such as income, educational background, occupation and so on.

% Monthly Household Income

  Ratio of Panel Composition for dS panel
Less than RMB 3,999 13.39%
RMB 4,000 - 7,999 14.19%
RMB 8,000 - 11,999 15.29%
RMB 12,000 - 15,999 10.68%
RMB 16,000 - 19,999 9.40%
RMB 20,000 or higher 30.23%
No Answer 6.83%



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.


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.


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.

forSurvey”, dataSpring’s questionnaire tool, is not affected by the net speed in China so far. For more information about our survey platform, please do not hesitate to contact us.


  • 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!


Online research panels have become one of the most important tools of the modern market researcher, and it can yield valuable insights and results if used properly. To know more about online research panels, especially in the Asian region, check out our Understanding Online Research Panels page.


Contact us anytime 24/7! One of our Springers will be in touch with you within 24-48 hours to follow up on your request.