It’s indisputable that the incredible growth path experienced by China in the last 30 years is to be linked to low cost manufacturing, which has attracted foreign investment from all over the world. In order to maintain the country competitive notwithstanding the rising labor costs, China has incentivised investments in technology and infrastructure. The following buzzwords will help you familiarise with the new tech trends that will characterise China in the near future and that are already revolutionising consumer experience and marketing strategies.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical objects or “things” such as vehicles, robots, home systems and appliances, traffic lights and so forth. They are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity that enable them to exchange data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other devices (Machine to Machine – M2M) connected to the same network. The IoT involves a technological revolution, which will impact everything we do and will have deep consequences for marketers. More connected “things”, will enable the collection of more integrated information about customers’ behaviour and preferences. The huge amount of new data coming from these interconnected devices will give marketers the opportunity to deliver smarter and more relevant advertising, with dramatic improvements in CRM (Customer Relationship Management).
Growing by 20.4% annually, the IoT market is expected to reach a total value of US $4.6 trillion in 2018. In 2014, China had more than 50 million M2M connections — compared to the US’ 32 million and Japan’s 9.3 million according to the GSMA.
The coming fifth-generation wireless broadband technology will replace the 4G technology by 2020 for business and consumer use. 5G connection will be 40 times faster than 4G (up to 1 Gb/s) and include a double-layer infrastructure in order to give a preferential space for data flowing “M2M” (“Machine to Machine”) rather than human to human . This will further pave the way for the development of the Internet of Things by increasing the productivity and interconnection among different “things”. Thanks to faster download speeds, it will be possible to stream HD videos with no buffering or waiting time. This will accommodate the need of Chinese consumers to enjoy TV shows and branded videos from everywhere without necessarily download the videos from a WiFi spot. Higher speed and connectivity with machines will have positive spillovers towards many industries, as well as foster the introduction of new types of marketing strategies, while enhancing others such as gamification and interactive digital communications.
China and South Korea are taking the lead in 5G investments with Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei spending RMB 3.72 billion (US $600 million) in 5G-related R&D.
Augmented Reality Technology (AR) consists in integrating High Definition images, videos and views coming from the real world with digital content. By superimposing real with digital content, AR technology completely changes user experience allowing a more immersive interaction between user, environment and software. In the field of retail, AR has been used to make customer experience more interactive and informative. AR can be used to enhance product previews by allowing a customer to view what is inside a product’s packaging without opening it. AR is also useful aid consumers in selecting products from a catalogue or through a kiosk. Scanned images of products can activate views of additional content such as customisation options. Retailers such as American Apparel with their Colour-Changing App or online supermarket Yihaodian use the technology to improve their customer’s shopping experience. In particular, Yihaodian has opened more than 1,000 augmented reality stores in Shanghai in 2014.
Although AR is closely linked to the digital world, it is one of the tools brick & mortar retailers are using to improve the overall physical shopping experience in China – particularly when they are up against increasingly attractive online shopping alternatives.
Overall, this market is expected to be worth $1.06 billion in 2018 growing at CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) of 15.18%.
China’s healthcare system is under pressure – The formerly rudimentary system has undergone extensive Government-led reforms to keep pace with China’s rapid economic development and rising expectations and now services 98% of the population. Public demand for high quality medical treatment have never been higher.
However, China’s healthcare system continues to face significant challenges. Inefficiencies in health care management, high patient-doctor mistrust, and vast regional discrepancies in quality and supply of health care are all forcing change. With a rapidly ageing population these pressures will only increase – by 2050 almost one third of China’s population, or 438 million is estimated to be over 60. These factors, combined with China’s strong ecommerce sector, rapidly expanding number of mobile users, and increased innovation and investment in healthcare, make the Middle Kingdom a fertile ground for the expansion of eHealth. Examples of interesting innovations include; Guahao – the largest online healthcare appointment platform in China – its value lies in streamlining accessibility to healthcare, and cutting down on administration and bureaucracy. Another interesting innovation is Alibaba Future Hospital – an ambitious platform designed to facilitate eHealthcare by allowing patients to make online appointments, pay for treatments and medicines, check lab results and settle medical insurance bills online. Lastly, Xingshulin is a great example of an eHealth platform which empowers patients to access health records and enables physicians to easily access information and medical resources on the go.