This time last year bike lanes in China’s big cities were the realm of migrant workers, with the occasional expat or hipster local on a single speed pedalling among the peasant peloton. For many Chinese, bicycles were for poor people and a cold or sweaty reminder of when few could afford a car and cities had no subways. In Beijing, just 12.5% of residents cycled in 2015, versus 38.5% in 2000.
Thanks to investments of more than $200 million, technology advancements and widespread adoption of mobile add-ons such as payments, China’s bike-sharing schemes have changed the face of city streets. Bike lanes in cities like Shanghai and Beijing are unrecognisable from 12 months ago.
At least eight bike-sharing start-ups have come to the fore. Launching just eight months ago, Mobike already has four million monthly active users of its 100,000 bikes across five cities. Urban middle class Chinese in suits and Hello Kitty knits now ride among those migrant workers and foreigners, in streets that resemble a Copenhagen with Chinese characteristics.
The overnight adoption of cycling is a testament of just how open Chinese consumers are to new things, particularly when they conveniently fill a need or want, and are assisted by some sort of mobile tech.
Talk of the orange, yellow and other jelly bean-coloured bike sharing schemes seems like a fitting prelude to talk about what else is changing in China and trends for 2017, particularly in the marketing and sales space. Of all the years that China Skinny has been crystal ball gazing, 2017 is looking like the most exciting yet. Here are our top-8 predictions.
We’ll leave you with that to ponder as this will be our last Skinny for 2016. The China Skinny office will be open for the rest of the year so please get in touch if there is anything we can do to help grow your brand and sales in China. For our readers who are celebrating, we wish you the Merriest of Christmases, and a Happy New Year to all! Go to Page 2 to see this week’s China news and highlights.