SEE MORE

The allure of its enormous 1.4 billion population and rising affluence has seen China become one of the world’s most attractive markets, but also its most competitive. Many international brands have struggled to gain a presence and generate sales. Foreign marketers often battle with understanding the intricacies of the China market, leading to initiatives being irrelevant or even inappropriate for Chinese consumers. Getting the basics right is crucial as the following three challenges reflect:

1. China is Crowded and Competitive

China is already the most crowded market on the planet, and becoming more-so by the day.  New international brands continue to enter the space, while local players are becoming more astute at adapting to trends and consumer preferences. With 500 products launching daily in China, it has become clear that brands will struggle to make an impact without a meaningful budget. This is especially true for the digital space such as WeChat, where 14 million official accounts tout for Chinese consumers’ attention. Getting noticed is difficult and resonating with the target market even more so, as only 5% of WeChat users view subscription accounts. Brands with a limited budget have to be smart and employ creative initiatives to stand out.

2. China is Different

Just as Chinese consumers have different motivations and tastes than their western peers, they use different platforms to research and endorse them.  Facebook, Google, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Youtube are all blocked in China. The resulting ecosystem of channels Chinese consumers are familiar with can often become confusing for foreign marketers. QQ, Weibo, WeChat, Baidu, Taobao, Tmall, JD are the best-known, but along with these come thousands of channels that might be more appropriate for a brand chasing a specific category or demographic. While the big players boast mouthwatering user statistics, smaller niche platforms can cater to a more targeted customer segment. The channels utilised by a wine brand will therefore differ greatly from those for fashion, cosmetics or mom & baby.

3. Chinese Consumers are Discerning

Various food and product scandals have led Chinese consumers to become some of the least trusting of product authenticity until the opposite is proven. They conduct much more research around a new product or brand, employing an average of 7-10 touch points from official online channels to offline influences like friends or family. With personal opinions being the most-trusted source of information, 70% of Chinese shoppers leave reviews online after purchasing a good. These not only include a product’s quality, but the whole consumer experience from responsiveness to logistics, purchasing process, packaging, safety, speed of delivery, after-sales service and more. Fulfilling this criteria effectively can be challenging for foreign brands, particularly as  local competitors have the advantage of being closer to their target market and are therefore able to relate better to their needs and preferences.

However, many foreign brands have adapted smart methods to cater to Chinese consumers, undertaking considered efforts to understand their target market and China’s fascinating and unique characteristics. Smaller brands can even gain a substantial consumer base once an appealing brand strategy is developed.

Are you interested in China and selling to Chinese consumers but don’t know where to start? China Skinny has created a brand new free five-day mini course focused on selling in China and Chinese consumers.

For five-days we’ll break down the China market including:
1. Opportunities in China
2. The various ways to sell in China
3. Chinese consumer segments
4. How to get your product right in China
5. Commonly overlooked aspects of working in China

Get knowledgeable about China! Sign up below for China Skinny’s five-day mini course:

 

Your details are safe with us. Privacy Policy.

One month in office and Trump’s practices remain one of the hot topics on Chinese social media. China Skinny have partnered with Findoout to gain insights into how Trump’s presidency is influencing the Chinese consumer market for American brands. While the overall consumer sentiment is declining, some categories profit from the current developments and have increased in interest. We hope you are among the lucky ones.

trump_effect_infographic

Connecting with Chinese Consumers

Gaining exposure in China can be challenging – not just for new brands, but also for brands who already have an established presence in the market.  The most successful companies are those who are aware of the latest marketing channels and opportunities, and embrace them in a way that is relevant to their target markets.

Adopting the right marketing channels soon after they launch is often much more cost effective than waiting until every other brand is having a go.  This enables brands to establish a foothold before the channel becomes too competitive, and also capture consumers while the method is still novel and new – something Chinese consumers love.

Comvita_Starting-Page

Alibaba’s Tmall Live Marketing Platform

Alibaba recently launched Tmall Live, a modern take on China’s popular TV Shopping networks.  Viewers watch live streaming videos from brands official store on the Tmall Smartphone app to learn about the brand and products, with the ability to purchase products at promotional rates and win prizes.  The platform takes advantage of the interactivity that only the Internet allows: allowing viewers to engage with the live stream hosts, the brand and each other, asking questions, comments and liking.Comvita_Head-Office

Comvita’s Tmall Live Campaign

Comvita is the best-known Manuka honey brand in China and globally.  Having been in the China market for more than 20 years, it is an established leader in the fast-growing natural health category.

China Skinny worked with Comvita and their Chinese distributor to build on this brand leadership through a Tmall Live stream to increase awareness of Comvita and its products and what makes its honey products so special.

One of Comvita’s key brand pillars is the pure, GM free source of its New Zealand honey and its stringent, hi-tech product development and production facilities.  To reinforce this positioning, we broadcasted the 90-minute show live from Comvita’s headquarters in New Zealand.

Viewers got the inside scoop into Comvita’s New Zealand stunning visitor centre and technical, production and warehousing facilities, going beyond sites that are normally available to the public.  All this happened through the convenience of a smartphone in China.

Comvita_Production

Selling the Comvita Dream

The live stream focused on Comvita’s compelling brand story, with its founder living almost 103 years thanks to his healthy lifestyle.  Comvita experts such as charismatic co-founder Alan Bougen, humorous Technology GM Tony Wright and charming product manager Charlotte Jones all provided useful facts translated on the fly by the exemplary hosts Monica Mu and Stef Qi.

Comvita_Expert-Interview

The Comvita employees gave their personal experiences from using Comvita products, allowing viewers to learn more about the products and educating them about how best to consume them.

China Skinny took the time to understand the target markets’ needs and wants, and ensured content made a direct connection between the benefits of Comvita products and how they assisted in viewers achieving health, beauty, career, family and lifestyle goals.

Comvita_Interview

Users’ comments and questions came in fast and wide, with 79,000 comments and 263,000 likes during the 120-minute live stream.  Popular subjects were prompted by the direction of the script, covering UMF and other grading systems to determine the quality of Manuka honey, and perceptions of the use of Manuka honey. The session also provided some valuable consumer insights into areas for future education, with shoppers asking questions even before the live feed started.

The Tmall Live stream was tied in with Comvita’s official Tmall store and included quizzes, vouchers and animations, creating an alluring environment with the thrill of being part of a special event that was taking place in New Zealand. The engagement from viewers indicated that the informative, educational and fun live stream appealed to the affluent urban women target market throughout China.

Comvita_Moderators

Tmall Live provides your brand and products another great and measurable opportunity to build awareness and ultimately sales.  It can be even more effective when tied in with other marketing initiatives.

Get in touch today to find out more about creating relevant and engaging content and how China Skinny can assist you with successful marketing to Chinese consumers.

Education is a major concern for Chinese parents who are eager to see their child excel in multiple disciplines. From an early age on, kids in China are attending English classes, practice calligraphy and learn instruments in order to be able to compete with millions of others. It is a rigid system that focuses on theories and teacher-centred learning with the primary goal being the big exams for the next higher school level such as the university admission exam gaokao. The pressure on the 9 million attendees is enormous with schools installing anti-suicide barriers to prevent students from taking their lives ahead of the exam.

In order to modernise the learning process, many parents are signing their children up for creative leaning courses such as Lego classes. As parents are becoming aware that creativity boosts inventiveness, sales of Lego rose by more than 50% between 2013 and 2015. In addition, alternative learning methods are becoming increasingly popular for subjects like English language.

Shanghai is one of the hubs for innovative education with many incentives for extracurricular learning. This not only entails subjects, but also communication and the learning process itself. “Chinese students are very limited in their way of learning – there is a skill gap that needs to be filled and many don’t recognise at the beginning that soft skills are as important to employers as is knowledge,” says Brian Heger, Content Development Director of TOK English, a program by Telford Education Group that combines traditional learning with interactive classes and online elements.

Cooperating with universities and companies in China, Heger also sees a need to change the way educators think in order to make an impact with Chinese students. “A lot feel threatened by online learning,” he explains. Rather than using online and interactive tools to compliment their traditional teaching, “educators wait to be told what to do instead of just doing something and taking initiative.”

Overcoming Hurdles

China-Education-Hurdles

New incentives are increasingly pushed by Beijing where a strong need for creative learning is seen in order to replace China’s image of a country of factories, to being perceived as an innovation hub and that can compete internationally. One of these initiatives is the Incubation Centre at Shanghai’s Donghua University which aims to connect students with companies and enhance innovations and entrepreneurship. “This trend already started five to six years ago, with the government as the main driver. Now companies are increasingly investing in students with good ideas and potential,” says Prof. Anselm Vermeulen, who is leading the program for Entrepreneurship and Innovation together with his colleague Dr. Nikola Zivlak. In a similar program, Prof. Vermeulen initiated at Shanghai Business School and cooperation with Rotterdam Business School, Chinese students are encouraged to create a business based on ideas developed during their studies.

“China’s private sector is the most welcoming ecosystem for innovations in the world.”, explains Dr. Zivlak, and names educational barriers as the biggest challenge to the development of creative thinking. “90% of our Chinese teachers are not willing to change their ways of teaching even though Donghua University is China’s 9th most international university,” states Prof. Vermeulen. Innovative minds are redirected to an exam-focused curriculum that leaves little room for trials.

But the change towards creative learning and thinking is underway in China, even within the country’s large enterprises. Training sessions with selected staff members has established new ways of managing and handling affairs that facilitate communication processes and enhance productivity. The demand for independent and inspiring graduates is increasing, offering multiple opportunities for foreign education companies and other businesses that are eager to train promising candidates into qualified staff. Contact us today to learn how.

The Alibaba shopping-mania continued with this year’s Singles’ Day reaching a stunning $14.3 billion sales. It not only showcases the enormous reach of China’s biggest internet retailer, but also the pace Chinese spending power is increasing. Growing by 60% compared to last year, Singles’ Day has evolved to a global shopping festival. Below is the digest on Singles’ Day 2015 in China Skinny’s newest infograph.

Singles-Day-2015-Infograph

With 55.2% of its 549 million monthly active users opening WeChat at least 10 times a day, the app is China’s most popular social network. Being perceived as the “Chinese Whatsapp”, WeChat offers far more features and many opportunities for brands to interact with their target market. Besides the regular user accounts, businesses can register official brand accounts to promote their products. Additionally, there are a number of functions that effectively support marketing to Chinese consumers. If you want to know more about how to effectively leverage those services, be in touch.

WeChat Marketing Functions for China

For our infographic about WeChat user demographics and habits, tap here.  To find out more about the day-to-day lifestyles of WeChat users, tap here for the infographic.

There’s obviously plenty more to WeChat, which we’d love to share with you.  Contact China Skinny today for WeChat and overall digital strategies and execution for China.

520 – a special day in China and a special day for China Skinny. Attending the Global Conference on Women and Entrepreneurship hosted by Alibaba in Hangzhou, our team is part of the 800 participants. With 640 million female consumers in China, bringing female entrepreneurs together shows the importance of women’s power for China’s economy.

Excited to be here, we will find out shortly what Jack Ma has to say about Alibaba’s role in this century’s She Era. The room is filled to the roof with a few of the 231 million female customers that shop on Taobao and Tmall.

jack-ma-in-spotlight

Arianna Huffington spoke of the importance of women finding their inner self to prevent burnout. With 100 million Chinese suffering from stress and mental diseases, Huffington points out that success lies in staying focused and gives tips and advice how to reach this goal.

discussion-with-huffington

Actress and Entrepreneur Jessica Alba emphasized to the importance of understanding your target market and how to reach themthe right way. Producing safe and healthy baby products and detergents, Alba plans to launch on the China market in the near future. With more than 9 out of 10 of Chinese moms having absolute control over what their babies are consuming and 86.5% of spending on children going towards healthy, safe and foreign products, women are the driving spending power in the Chinese baby and toddler market.

jessica-alba-honest-company

Short snack in between: a decorative reminder of the event’s host.

alibaba-cake

Along with these celebrities, the audience discussed the role of women in China with Chinese stars like Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi, Su Mang, UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward, and Goldman Sachs Vice Chairman Mark Schwartz. Marriage was a topic of discussion – a big concern for many of China’s “left-over women”, often ambitious women who remain single after 30. With women contributing to just 10% of global GDP growth, there is room for improvement across all industries and countries.

su-mang-alibaba

All speakers consistently stated that mind-sets have to change as there is no country worldwide with gender equality. Given the status quo, it will take 81 years to reach economical gender equality. Women are 9% less likely to have saving accounts, assets or take out loans, and building the right infrastructure is one of the Jack Ma’s objectives for leading China into the She Era Economy of the 21st century.

discussion-with-jack-ma

Two interesting days with dozens of speeches, hundreds of questions and hot discussions. With this event pointing out discrepancies and bringing entrepreneurs from all over the world together, the trends towards the independent, strong business women in China is on the rise. China Skinny can help you play your part in reaching and appealing to this large and powerful consumer group.

The rise of eCommerce is China is increasing consumers’ access to a goods spanning every category. The almighty internet enables customers in the Middle Kingdom to purchase products from every corner of the country, and have them delivered in a couple of days. Numerous food scandals from Melamine to tainted bean sprouts in Beijing last year, coupled with rising incomes and sophistication, is driving Chinese consumer’s to demand higher quality products, particularly those imported from overseas.

Ecommerce giant Alibaba answered the call for cross-border by launching its Tmall Global B2C platform and features such as ePass, providing a familiar and trusted payment option for Chinese visitors to foreign websites. Today, JD.com announced the launch of JD Worldwide, allowing international suppliers to sell to customers without a presence in the Mainland.

The new eCommerce store provides products from numerous overseas markets such as the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and Japan, reducing many of the barriers to international commerce such as customs and language issues. Warehouses in free-trade eCommerce zones will enable short wait times for delivery across the country. Part of the launch includes “Best of eBay Deals” pilot programme that will offer popular brands from US eBay sellers directly, who receive access and support in marketing to JDs 97 million active users.

JD Worldwide has some catching up to do. Its initial 450 online shops is less than a tenth of the 5,000 businesses that had set up stores Tmall Global‘s at the end of 2014, but they’re on the right track . Despite the lower number of stores, JD is confident it will appeal to consumers with many products offered previously not available in China before.

Cross-border commerce accounted for 14.8% of China’s total foreign trade in 2014 and is expected to climb up to ¥6.2 trillion (US$ 1 trillion) by 2016. Innovative projects like the cross-border eCommerce pilot zone in Alibaba’s heartland, Hangzhou, will fuel the development, setting the standard for procedures and supervision of eCommerce transactions including tax refunds. eCommerce zones also aim to accelerate tax reforms for issues such as the 50% duties consumers pay for products such as imported cosmetics and wine.

The eCommerce industry continue to grow and profit from these types of incentive, opening the Chinese market to foreign businesses and the world to Chinese consumers. With increasing penetration of the market and fierce competition, new competitors will have to be creative to stand out. Contact China Skinny today to successfully reach your target consumers in China.

Shopping in China is not a necessity but a lifestyle. It is a hobby Chinese consumers pursue with a passion, particularly as online shopping becomes increasingly popular. 67% of Chinese purchased goods online in the past three months according to McKinsey.

Chinese consumers often look for a product in stores and end up buying it elsewhere. Armed with smartphones, a third of shoppers research goods on their mobile in stores, and just 16% of them end up purchasing the product in the store. Following this trend, the industry is hastening to meet Chinese customers’ expectations, creating a multichannel shopping experience with the well-used catchphrase being “O2O” (Online-to-Offline).

O2O

Integrating online elements into offline retail and services was estimated to generate an additional ¥240 billion ($38.4 billion) in 2014, growing 20% from a year earlier according to Analysys International. 71% of online Chinese consumers have used O2O services. A 2015 McKinsey study found that customers particularly like offers where they can purchase a good online and return or exchange it offline. More than half of Chinese consumers are also interested in services allowing them to buy online and pick-up offline or using online coupons in physical stores, with services such as discounted cinema tickets being especially popular.

For smaller businesses, O2O could be a route to stand out from the crowd. A nail specialist states that offering her services through the O2O beauty service app Helijia earns almost doubled her salary when working in a physical nail salon, with the average online order exceeding ¥150 ($25). Helijia recently raised ¥312.5 million ($50 million) investment to to attract more makeup artists and expand into new cities. Whether it is buying medicine, washing laundry or cooking – China’s online landscape can serve nearly every purpose.

O2O-services-in-China

Investments from China’s online giants indicates the importance of the online-to-offline business model in the Middle Kingdom. Early this year, Alibaba invested in an Israeli O2O and QR Code startup which improves the efficiency of scanning QR codes 400%. At a similar time, Tencent and Baidu teamed up with Wanda Group to invest ¥20 billion ($3.2 billion) developing O2O shopping malls on steroids. Wanda’s 1.5 billion customers is the largest offline consumer network globally and, coupled with Baidu’s and Tencent’s strengths (Wechat in particular), signals that massive potential in the O2O business.

The integration of online into offline services is expected to grow rapidly. Two out of three Chinese consumers would like to get more O2O offers in entertainment, while almost half expect extra O2O healthcare services. Online payment systems like Alipay and Wechat Payments are profiting from this development, as more customers expect to be able to use one of those platforms for paying in physical stores. O2O is a convenient concept for consumers living in remote rural areas as well as white collar workers in cities.

O2O-payment-systems

With China’s growing middle class, rising smartphone penetration and more and more consumers seeking information and shopping online, retailers should consider including O2O in their marketing and sales strategy to satisfy their customer’s expectations in the services and shopping experience. Contact us for assistance in your China marketing to meet the trends and stay on track.

SELFIE, “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.”

Although not yet included in the Oxford English Dictionary, the word was awarded the dictionary’s International Word of the Year 2013 due to its 17,000% year on year increase in usage. In China, the trend has become part of everyday life.

Selfie – The Eye-catcher

Numerous apps allow users to change their ordinary looks into a fantasy version that is more attractive than in reality. The popularity is immense: the selfie-transformation app BeautyPlus exceeded a million downloads within two days of its release in 2013.The altered pictures reflect the ideal of good looks in China such as whiter skin and rounder eyes, used as profile images or posted on Wechat Moments for friends to admire.

perfect-selfie

Campaigns and advertisements have utilised selfies for themselves, often with astonishing success. China’s latest trend on Weibo of posting self-portraits showing arm-pit hair aimed to challenge the overall perception of beauty. The campaign went viral on social media, creating buzz and discussions with almost 30 million views and over 20,000 comments on the competition page. Shiseido used the phenomenon for their 2015 New Year’s campaign, releasing 50 self-shot images of Lady Gaga in Japanese newspapers. In China, Lenovo’s ad offers selfie-horoscopes with the scorpion showing its love for a dangerous life by taking a selfie with a flasher.

lenovo-flasher-selfie-ad

Selfies have taken the younger generations by storm in Asia, with four of the top ten cities for selfies photographs in the continent. A Times survey named Makati City of the Philippines as the capital of selfies, but measured this by posts on Instragram which is now blocked in China. A search for 自拍 (‘selfie’ in Chinese) on Weibo finds almost 700 million posts, illustrating the tremendous popularity in the Middle Kingdom.

selfie-with-mao

Selfie – The Best-seller

The industry has been doing their best to catch up. China’s DJI’s ready-to-fly photography drones can be purchased from ¥ 5000 ($802), with the latest version allowing pilots to live-stream the footage via smartphone taking selfie-ism to a new level. There are already 20,000 drones in use in China, with the market expected to grow exponentially.

selfie-drone

91% of China’s638 million internet users are active social media users. A 2014 survey by Ogilvy and SurveyMonkey revealed that four out of five share content on their profiles, much higher than countries like Korea with 57%. Sharers believe their content makes them appear smart and helps to define their personality. More than one fifth of Chinese netizens also express a feeling of creativity when sharing content on social media.

Selfie – The Threat

Experts have investigated why taking pictures of oneself and publishing on social media has become increasingly popular in the last decade, but the consequences of the phenomenon remain unclear. Social scientists have found that it boosts self-esteem as the pictures are easy to alter to show the best side of a user.

perfect-selfie

Verging on narcissism, the American Psychiatric Association classified taking selfies as a mental disorder. The disease called “selfitis” can be divided into three levels, from borderline over acute to chronic selfitis where users post selfies more than six times a day. While no cure exists for the disorder, temporary treatment is available. As a response, rumours have spread online that Samsung, Apple and Nokia are removing front-facing-cameras on their smartphones for health reasons.

front-camera-selfie

Whether you call it selfie-ism or selfitis: the habit of taking pictures of oneself is popular and encouraged by the industry and celebrities. Efforts to tune down the trend, such as in the smartphone industry might not have the desired effect as devices like drones can step into the gap, providing an advanced selfie-service. A London college established the class “The art of self portraiture” to master taking selfies . A strategy to increase the currently 19.8% Chinese of a total 425,000 foreign students in the UK? We will remain curious as to what else 2015 may bring.

Christmas, the biggest celebration in the Western hemisphere, has spread its wings to China. Hotels and shopping malls compete in ostentatious decoration, from exuberant Christmas trees to unique Chinese-style garlands. Fairy lights added to the usual spectacle on China’s skyscrapers are mingling to a sparkling scene. Although it brings a warm and festive atmosphere, the commercial undertones are omnipresent. Many brands take the chance and integrate their products into the cheer. German glass specialist Schott, for example, has turned the entrance of central Shanghai’s Joinbuy Century Plaza into an enormous festive platform promoting their crystal wine glasses.

Sparkling wine in sparkling lights

China is the biggest provider of Christmas goods, with its ‘Christmas Village’ Yiwu in Zhejiang province being the largest production site worldwide. Xinhua claimed that more than 60% of the global Christmas decorations and 90% of festive supplies were made in Yiwu factories in 2013. Another claim to fame for the town of 2 million is that it is connected directly with Madrid via train. Arriving in the Spanish capital on 9 December, 1400 tons of cargo containing stationary, craft products, Christmas balls and saxophone-playing Santas completed a journey of 13,052km, the longest train journey in history.

the-longest-train-journey

yiwu-decoration

Despite China’s contribution to the holy event, the traditional background of the festivities is not observed by most locals. There are an estimated 100 million Christians in China – eclipsing the 86.7 million-strong membership of the ruling Communist Party, and at its current growth rates, China will likely have the world’s largest Christian population within 15 years.  Nevertheless, Chinese generally associate Christmas with shopping discounts and the occasion of spending time with friends. Decoration and gifts have become popular among the younger consumers, pushing ecommerce platforms to promote Christmas goods. Searching for ‘Christmas’ in Chinese and English on Taobao delivers 105,000 results, with decorations and ‘Merry Christmas’-banners being particularly popular.

chinese-christmas-decoration

For those who want to escape the commercial Christmas and experience a rather laid back and peaceful time, villages and townships are promoting themselves as just that. Miyun in the north of Beijing promises dreamy scenery close to the Great Wall with special activities during the holidays. From Christmas choirs to Santa Claus and clowns on bicycles to making pizza – everything is included for Chinese consumers to enjoy a ‘genuine’ Christmas.

miyun-at-the-great-wall

Whether you are taking in the buzz of the cities or will head for romantic days in the countryside, China Skinny wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

merry-christmas-from-China

Fruits, milk formula, rice, chicken nuggets, rat meat, abalone and goose feet have a fateful common feature: They have all been featured in the Chinese headlines for food scandals. Now bean sprouts from a Beijing production site are on the top of the list due to the latest discovery of the bean sprouts containing banned additives. Food safety is a major concern in China where products with forbidden add-ins are regularly discovered. While in 2008 only 12% of Chinese claimed food safety to be a problem, this amount grew almost seven-fold to 80% in 2014 according to Horizon Research.

buying-healthy-food

The rapid increase in Chinese consumers concerned about domestic products came to light on a grand scale with the melamine baby formula scandal in 2008. The subsequent lack of trust is still raw with many consumers, leading to Hong Kong implementing a two-can limit on the amount of baby milk powder travelers are allowed to carry in order to restrict arbitrary trade. Violators can face up to two years in prison.

precious-formula

The newest report about bean sprouts being treated with 6-benzyladenine, a synthetic plant growth regulator, show again China’s lack of certainty for clean and safe domestic food. The toxic addition makes the plant develop faster, thicker and longer while the roots stay shorter than growing naturally. Consumed in large quantities, it can cause premature puberty, disrupt menstrual cycles and contribute to osteoporosis.

Bean sprouts are an important ingredient in Chinese cuisine – daily consumption of sprouts is about 300 tons in Beijing alone. 20 tons of the poisonous sprouts were estimated to be sold each day in the capital, Hebei and Shandong Provinces in September, worth ¥1.82 million ($295,800).

tainted-bean-sprouts

China’s soil pollution remains one of its biggest food production challenges. Almost 20% of the country’s farmland is heavily contaminated – roughly the size of Great Britain. In central Hunan province, more than three quarters of the ricefields have been contaminated. In 2013, toxic rice tainted with cadmium that is normally used for coatings of cell phones, cameras and computers caused alarm. While the rural population are often unaware of the health risks heavy metals and the over use of fertilizers entail, urban residents are becoming more careful choosing their food. According to a BCG survey published in February this year, 73% are willing to pay a premium for healthy products, proving that Chinese consumers are the most health conscious worldwide. Two thirds claim that living in urban areas is unhealthy, resulting in the retail health market being expected to more than double to ¥400 billion ($67 billion) between 2012 and 2020.

pretty-looking-food

With food and drug safety being the third-biggest concern for Chinese healthy and safe food will continue to soar. Ongoing food scandals reflect the common Chinese expression for accepting problems without solutions “mei ban fa” (没办法). Let’s hope some solutions are found soon.

About one in 3 cigarettes worldwide are smoked in China. According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey in China, almost one third of the adult population smokes, with 53% of all men. The number of Chinese smoking grew by 100 million between 1980 and 2012. Whilst health may be the number one concern for the Chinese consumers, there remains a large portion of the population who choose to smoke.

Chinas various cigarette brands

 

With a pack of cigarettes costing less than ¥10 ($1.63) in China, significantly lower than the $6 American consumers pay, the price isn’t exactly prohibitory. Although taxes are low relative to most developed economies, smoking tax still contributes $140.5 billion to Government coffers. Nevertheless, this tax is insignificant to the health and social benefits smoking causes in China.

Chinese smoking in front of non-smoking-sign

 

This army of smokers exposes around 740 million people to the poisonous fumes as passive smokers. A study issued by the WHO this year shows that 3,000 people die in China every day because of tobacco use, which translates into one person dying approximately every 30 seconds. Even though China signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003, only few measures have been put in effect to date.

However, a new regulation draft released on 24 November draws public attention and legislation to the matter. China plans to ban smoking in public spaces like kindergartens, schools, hospitals, fitness centers and waiting areas of public transportation hubs. Based on the success in other countries, the draft also includes highlighting health risks on cigarette packs which could have a significant impact in decreasing the numbers as the majority of the 300 million smokers are unaware of the link between smoking and strokes, heart disease and lung illness. It is hoped this will help to discourage many more Chinese from picking up the habit, especially the younger generation. Among 14 year olds, 11% of boys and 3% of girls smoke.

little Chinese boy smoking a cigarette 

To change consumer perception, China plans to forbid tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion. This includes prohibiting smoking scenes in films and TV shows. Whilst previous smoking legislation has been poorly implemented, the new smoking legislation aims to place top government officials and social organizations in charge of realizing the regulations in their areas. Public leaders should take the lead, which means that teachers and medical workers will be prevented from smoking in front of students and patients.

Smoking in TV Shows Banned

 

Every little bit helps, but given the heavy pollution in China – for the first 30 days of January 2013, the air in Beijing was 17% worse than an average US smoking lounge –there is still some work to be done before the average Chinese consumer will have clean lungs.  

Update: Pollution kills more people than tobacco in 12 of China’s 31 cities surveyed by Greenpeace.  

2015 is the big year when Disney’s sixth resort destination is expected to open in Shanghai. Answering the demand of the growing affluent Chinese middle class for leisure and entertainment offers, Disney invested $ 5.5 billion in its new theme park. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, growth in China’s entertainment market will more than double between 2013 and 2015 to $148 billion. This reflects the expectations of China’s theme park visitations rising to 221 million by 2020, matching the current size in the US.

themepark-numbers-globally

With China aiming to double spending on domestic tourism within the next six years, Disney is opening two hotels within its resort, one of which will be a Toy Story-themed complex with 800 rooms. Bordering its large lake, Disneytown will contain a 46,000 square metre shopping, dining and entertainment district. To appeal to Chinese visitors, elements like the ‘Garden of 12 Friends’ will be included, based on the 12 animal signs of the Chinese horoscope.

Shanghai-Disneyland

 

China-Disneyland

Following the motto “The bigger the better”, the almost 4 square kilometre-sized resort will be more than 200 times larger than Disneyland Paris. Adding the biggest castle among all Disney Resorts, Shanghai Disneyland will have more than a touch of Disney imagination.

Shanghai-Disneyland-Castle

It is expected that Chinas Amusement Park industry’s revenue will grow by 9.6% to $2.9 billion in 2014, with theme parks accounting for 74%. Hosting 11 of the top 20 amusement parks in Asia, the industry is likely to overtake the US market by 2020.

 

This year’s 11.11, not only Chinese profited from the discounts. Alibaba’s international shopping platform AliExpress offered free shipping to overseas which consumers abroad made use of in large scale, processing more than 6.8 million paid orders. Surprisingly, Israel was among the Top-3 buyers, whereas the USA only ranked No. 6 as cross border commerce takes off on both directions.

Alibaba Single's Day Cross Border Commerce