This article reports findings from two surveys conducted in 1987: the first involved over 25,000 television viewers throughout China and the second interviewed more than 1,100 urban residents of Beijing. The surveys measured audience attitudes and behaviour regarding commercial advertising. This is the first time such information based on probability sampling in China has become available to western readers. The results replicated one of the findings of an earlier study, which was based on a small-scale convenience sample, that Chinese consumers supported the return of advertising. But the support was less enthusiastic than previously thought; public opinion regarding commercial advertising appeared quite reserved and somewhat calculated. The data also suggest that mass advertising, especially television advertising, was an effective marketing tool, and that Chinese consumers paid more attention to the informational content than the entertainment features of the advertisements. In conclusion, the authors argue that Chinese consumers were probably more sophisticated than they were given credit for.
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