Shanghai Lilong renewal from the perspective of consumer culture

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With the development of social economy, the renewal of traditional lane residential areas in Chinese cities is significantly affected by consumer culture. In the case of Shanghai, Lilong (the local name of lane residential area) renewal has always been combined with tourism and commercial strategies, and has created a new format of urban development since 2000. In this paper, 5 typical Shanghai Lilong areas are selected. To study the characteristics of consumer groups, motivation, behavior, the attraction of street space and cultural elements of these areas, a questionnaire survey is conducted, and the commercial structures of the 5 samples are also analyzed. The paper has discovered that the characteristics of the main consumer groups in Shanghai Lilong are represented by 3 Hs (high education, high income, and high social class) also by lower age, higher percentage of international population and distinct regional features (far higher percentage of native Shanghai people), etc. Through a statistical analysis, 4 representative consumer groups are identified: white-collar workers, college students, foreign tourists and business people, and natives of Shanghai, whose core motivation of consumption is considered to be the construction of social identity and self-identity, reflecting complex values and behavior characteristics. To better cater to its consumer group’s motivations, the Lilong keeps on strengthening the significant characteristics of consumer culture like unique, historic and aesthetic features, as well as the middle to higher consumption tendency and the density of significance. The author argues that the renewal of traditional Lilong has really improved the image of the city and stimulated consumption, but also led to some potential problems, such as the social contradictions, the loss of the authentic culture represented by Lilong, and the superficial trend of cultural connotations in consumption. This research is intended to provide a case study for the renewal of traditional Lilong or lane residential areas in Chinese cities and some reflections on corresponding problems.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
consumer culture, Shanghai Lilong, consumer motivation
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