As 2019 draws to a close, it’s fair to say that it has been a year of twists and turns – even by Chinese standards. With the backdrop of a slowing economy and prolonged trade war, we’re happy to say that Chinese consumers have remained the main driver of the economy, spending over 8% more than they did last year, fuelled by a healthy dose of credit.
Trying to keep China’s ever-larger consumer market in good stead, foreign brands have issued more apologies this year than ever before. That’s been driven by unprecedented and often-polarising geopolitical issues covering Huawei to Hong Kong to Artificial Intelligence, increasing Chinese consumers’ patriotism and keeping crisis management teams awake at night.
Like years before, 2019 has seen many contradictions in China. Rising nationalism has been countered by more imported FMCG products selling than ever, and American brands accounting for more top-sellers on Singles’ Day than Chinese brands. As Carrefour and Metro divested from China, Costco and Aldi have taken an expansionary approach, right as the big tech companies further muscle into brick & mortar retailing, and livestreaming, social commerce and New Retail continues to alter the way consumers shop.
One of the most positive developments in China this year, was seeing more individual accountability for the environment with punitive recycling laws starting to be rolled out in China’s cities. In addition to worrying about how to correctly dispose of snack wrappers and apple cores, soaring food prices – particularly pork impacted by diseased hogs – have kept consumers grumbling on social media.
Beyond the continued falling birth rates, outrageous advertising claims, and slews of data continuing to be faked, 2019 has produced its usual trove of buzzwords, wacky viral videos and trending fashion topics which all help provide a glimpse into what matters and connects with the average Zhou on her smartphone on the street.
That wraps up our last Skinny for 2019 – thanks for reading this year, we hope you found it valuable. The Skinny team wishes you a wonderfully Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year or whatever else you may be celebrating. We’ll be back again in 2020, take care until then. Go to Page 2 to see this week’s China news and highlights.