This study examines differences among urban Chinese consumers and their consumption patterns in three major cities-Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin-utilising data from a nationally representative sample survey conducted in 2005. Differences were found in these consumers' age distribution, education level, household composition, birth and death rates, income, expenditure patterns and consumer durable ownership rates. Beijing and Shanghai, the two most affluent cities in China, exhibited the highest consumer durable ownership rates and the highest cost of living. While previous research has frequently segmented China in terms of a rural versus urban dichotomy or by geographic region, this study suggests that the urban Chinese do not constitute a homogeneous market. Further, it is suggested that both geographic region and income, which varies between rural and urban settings, are sound bases for segmenting this important market.