By  on March 18, 2013

BEIJING — As China’s biggest cities grow saturated with major brands and consumer products, retailers are looking beyond Beijing and Shanghai at the country’s smaller markets, where new opportunities still abound.

But cracking the code of consumers who live in China’s smaller cities — routinely referred to in the marketing world by a “tier” structure according to their population and development — can be tricky business. Second-, third- and fourth-tier cities hold tens of millions of emergent consumers, but buying behavior in China’s less-developed, smaller cities does not always mirror what companies understand in the largest cities.

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