Chinese males have an obsession with gaming, so say the numbers. China’s $38 billion gaming market is worth more than four times its movie industry. The country’s infatuation has contributed to eSports becoming a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games and even a possible demonstration sport at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Some estimate that gaming will soon match regular sports for popularity in China.
While the inclusion of eSports in major sporting events is likely to increase China’s medal count and patriotism, Beijing isn’t looking on the national pastime so fondly. Cracks have been appearing for some time, such as last year’s reports from the People’s Liberation Army which blamed excessive video gaming – along with too many fizzy drinks and masturbation – for high failure rates on physical tests, reaching 56.9% in some Chinese cities. Similarly, China’s Ministry of Education slammed gaming for the disturbingly high rates of myopia – near-sightedness – among children, contributing to a halt in new games being licensed since March, with no new games expected to be approved until next year.
One of the underreported consequences of 530 million gamers in China is that it provides a distraction to finding a mate. This doesn’t bode well for Beijing’s aspirations to increase fertility rates. It has also contributed to the millions of charming and successful urban women in their late 20s who are still single – a.k.a. the “leftover women”.
Many of those “leftover women” – and countless other women in relationships – are finding companionship in a furry friend. Women accounted for 87.5% of China’s pet-related purchases in what has become one of the China’s fastest growing industries. The pet category is on track to hit ¥170.8 billion ($26 billion) this year – 27% up on 2017 – which is more than three times the growth rate of retail overall.
The soaring sales are unlikely to come as a surprise for anyone browsing WeChat avatars, Moments feeds and Douyin videos, which have more affectionate profiles of felines and pooches than an online pet store.
Much like many other categories in China, a large portion of the pet industry’s 27% growth is coming from consumers trading up. Consumers are no longer feeding their pets rice and food scraps, they’re trading up to better quality products, with natural food accounting for a quarter of the market and growing at 55% last year. Research has also revealed that 40.9% of Chinese dog owners take them to a beauty salon.
The news is obviously great for well-marketed brands in China’s pet industry, but other brands should also take note. They say the way to a girl’s heart is through her furry best friend, and smarter businesses are realising this; through their communication plans and even providing pet-friendly facilities such as cafes and stores. Like everything, it is about understanding what pushes your target market’s buttons and how best to service them – China Skinny can assist with that. Go to Page 2 to see this week’s China news and highlights.