From the Wall Street Journal article “Chasing China’s Shoppers: How Best Buy Tapped a Supercharged Middle Class – Through Trial and Error” by Laurie Burkitt and Bob Davis (here):
.... The potential buying power of China's middle class is vast. About 247 million Chinese, 18.2% of the population, qualify as middle class, meaning their households spend between $10 and $100 a day on average, according to Brookings Institution economist Homi Kharas.
If current patterns continue, the number will soar to 607 million by 2020, and spending by China's middle class will rival that of the U.S., after adjusting for inflation and purchasing power.
The trend has the potential to remake China. With export markets weakening in Europe and the U.S., economists say, Beijing needs to lift spending by its own middle class or risk that growth will slow sharply. Steady middle-class growth also could help China's trading partners, bolstering a market for computers, cars and trendy clothing, as well as for commodities such as copper, oil and cotton.
China already is the world's largest market for some middle-class emblems, including cars, personal computers and smartphones. And multinational companies show no signs of taking their feet off the gas. Whirlpool Corp. plans to boost distribution of fridges, washing machines and other appliances to China's inland cities. Coca-Cola Co. plans to invest $4 billion over the next three years.
"For fast-moving, everyday consumer goods, there are some broad megatrends that will continue to push demand forward, which are ongoing urbanization in China and then, of course, the related growth of the middle class," Hein Schumacher, the China chief for food maker H.J. Heinz Co., told analysts last month.