Here are this week’s news and highlights for China:
The Meteoric Rise of Chinese Consumerism Will Reshape the World, and Maybe Even Destroy It: How does a country that doesn’t have cars suddenly become—within 10, 15 years—the world’s largest consumer and producer of cars? Much of it has to do with state involvement, to help stimulate a domestic car industry to contribute to continued growth in the economy.
Chinese Factories Fake Shipping Addresses to Sell Counterfeit Air Jordans: Chinese consumers hoping to avoid buying fakes by purchasing from international merchants are being duped by counterfeiters who are faking the product and shipping addresses, complete with fake online parcel tracking. The dodgy freight service costs just ¥35 ($5.15) to “ship from the United States.”
China Closes 60 Celebrity Gossip Social Media Accounts: 60 accounts have been shut down on WeChat, Weibo, NetEase and Baidu in a rare crackdown on content that is unrelated to politics. Accounts such as Harpers Bazaar have been closed as well as 19 Weibo accounts including that of Zhou Wei, a photographer who has exposed several extramarital affairs involving Chinese movie stars and who had over 7 million followers. The terminations were to “proactively promote socialist core values and develop a healthy and positive atmosphere.” Strong measures were being taken to curb “excessive reporting on the private lives of and gossip about celebrities.”
Ant Financial App Reduces Carbon Footprint of 200 Million Chinese Consumers: In just 9 months, 200 million of Alipay’s 450 million users are now using an app that gamifies carbon footprint tracking.
Engage Customers with Mobile Wallet Marketing: Alipay and WeChat have developed their mobile wallets into rich customer engagement platforms, offering new opportunities for mobile marketers such as augmented reality coupons, gifting Starbucks coffee and location based push marketing. 76% of metro Chinese consumers use mobile wallets or are interested in doing so, compared to 36% of the urban online US population.
Alibaba 2017 Investor Day: Financial Perspective and Guidance: The longer consumers have used Alibaba platforms, the more they buy. For example, a customer who started buying on the platform in 2016, spends an annualised average of ¥3000 ($441) across 38 orders in 9 categories. Someone who started shopping online in 2012 averages ¥12K ($1,765) across 123 orders in 24 categories. Growth of high-end products for personal care products was 9 times larger than the category overall, 2.6 times for beauty care and 1.8 times for infant formula. Alibaba now accounts for 11% of China’s retail sales. Alibaba aims to be larger than all but four of the world’s economies by 2036 – it is currently the equivalent of the 22nd largest economy after Argentina.
The Rise of the QR Code and How it Has Forever Changed China’s Social Habits: Thanks to QR codes’ rapidly increasing usage at off-line shops, the amount of mobile payments on the mainland is now 50 times greater than that of the US. QR codes are being used to encourage tipping at restaurants, receive cash gifts at weddings and even beggars are using it to collect handouts.
China-Tailored iOS to be Available this Autumn: Apple is another example of deeper localisation for the Chinese market, including Chinese-English translation on Siri, short message fraud extension, Shanghai dialect dictation and phone number as Apple ID when its next iPhone launches in Autumn.
China Sees Surge in Fruit Imports: China’s growing health focus coupled with improving ecommerce logistics enabling access to lower tier cities drove growth in fruit imports of 23.1% in 2014 and 14.7% in 2015, but the value contracted 1% last year.
Starbucks Wants to Change Habits in China: Chinese consumers still overwhelmingly prefer tea to coffee while in their homes, but at “food service channels,” overall consumption of the two beverages is roughly split in half. Starbucks’ loyalty programme is already strong in China, with 8 million members, compared to 13.3 million in the U.S. On a per-store basis, there are more than 30,000 members per store in China versus fewer than 2,000 in the US. A quarter of all the Starbucks locations in China are currently in Shanghai, indicating plenty of opportunity for growth in other cities.
KLM Now Offers Flight Help via Twitter and WeChat Bots: KLM has introduced WeChat bots for booking confirmation, check-in notification, boarding passes and flight status updates to any customers who book their flights or check in through its website and elect WeChat for communications.
Re-Thinking Strategies: How Parisian Retailers are Adapting to the New Chinese Wave: 26 to 35 year olds made up 54% of Chinese travellers to France last year. Digital tools such as WeChat and travel apps mean that Chinese travellers are increasingly more independent in their travel planning, and are well-versed in the latest fashion trends and cultural and lifestyle events.
It Takes More than Fingerprint Scanners to Beat Cheaters in China’s Biggest Exam: Last week more than 9 million Chinese students sat roughly nine hours over a period of two days for the gaokao, the gruelling, high-stakes exam for admission to a Chinese college. 2 million will fail. Forged ID and fingerprint films have helped skirt verification for cheaters, however authorities have resorted to drones, finger-vein recognition and iris scanning to resolve the problem. Students who cheat can now face 7 years in jail.
Mercedes-Benz Shows Off ‘Fit, Healthy’ Concept Car Ahead of CES Asia Expo: Mercedes plays to the health craze in China offering a concept car that collects data and movements of the driver, including the heartbeat rate, to provide nutrition and fitness information based on the driver’s personal condition. The car also includes an anti-pollution air purifier and a system for making tea in the back seat.