Here are this week’s news and highlights for China:
China’s Economic Growth Remains Robust Amid Strong Retail Sales: China’s economy expanded 6.8% in the first quarter of 2018, with consumption contributing 77.8% of growth. Online sales soared 35.4% in the first quarter from a year earlier while investment in education jumped 26.9%. Retail sales grew 10.1% year-on-year in March, the fastest increase since November.
As Birth Rates Continue to Fall, China’s Retailers Must Shift their Focus: China’s National Bureau of Statistics says 17.23 million babies were born in 2017, translating to a fertility rate of 1.24%. Even China Daily is hinting at “negative population growth in the near future.” That means more money goes to healthcare, travel and entertainment compared to other emerging markets. Cars, property and mobile phones are getting a boost from this trend too accounting for spending that might otherwise be split by childcare.
More Open, More Anxious: China’s Changing Sex Lives: Between 2000-2015, the average age that men under 30 lost their virginity dropped from 22.6 years to 19.5, with women dropping less from 21.7 to 20.4. The percentage of men aged 18-29 who felt uninterested in sex over the past 12 months rose from 4.8% in 2000 to 12.1% in 2015. Among women, this figure rose from 12.8% to 27.3% in the same time frame.
My Adult Toy Party Revealed Gaps in China’s Sexual Dialogue: China’s romantic relationships are in crisis. China is home to more than 200 million single adults. Families strongly pressure young people to get married early in their adult lives, and many people rush into unhappy or unfulfilling relationships to placate older relatives. Chinese women remain largely uninformed about sex, their bodies, and the positive effects of exploring sexual pleasure. As a result, the market for adult toys is geared primarily towards men, leaving the women’s market underdeveloped.
US Ban on Sales to ZTE Triggers Patriotic Rhetoric in China: Last week the United States imposed a ban on American companies selling parts and software to ZTE for seven years, saying it had broken a settlement agreement with repeated false statements. This threatens to cut off the Chinese firm’s supply chain. A restaurant reportedly erected a banner with patriotic slogans calling for solidarity and offering any of ZTE’s 80,000 employees free meals. Sympathy for ZTE has also swept across Chinese social media whereas most domestic newspapers are slating its reliance on foreign semiconductors. The ban is likely to have a significant impact on the US-China relationship and add impetus to China building less dependence on foreign supply chains.
At War With Alibaba: Top Brands Fight China Ecommerce Giant: The escalating turf fight between Alibaba and JD carries a chilling message for brands: either you’re with us or against us. There are multiple reports of brands being coerced into signing exclusives with platforms or having traffic drastically reduce.
Rich Post-80s Drive Chinese Whiskey Market Growth: Whiskey sales grew 19.5% last year. Interest in whiskey among the wealthy has grown from 15-22% in the past three years driven by the perception of whiskey as a more dynamic, international and sophisticated category. In 2017 alone, more than 300 new whiskey bars opened their doors in China.
How China’s Winemakers Succeeded (Without Stealing): Foreign wine makers have helped raise the standard of Chinese wines. Wine is not cheap to produce in China. Their biggest challenge remains image, although this is being helped through production partnerships with Remy Martin and LVMH. Chinese wine exports are small but growing, with $1.2 million in exports to regions like Europe, North America and Australia in 2016.
This Social Network is Where China’s Plastic Surgery Fans Share their Nose Jobs: Getting a nose job is no longer taboo for many of the younger generation in China, who have grown up on a TV diet of surgically enhanced celebrities. Social network SoYoung was started in 2014 to connect cosmetic clinics with patients and a community for people interested in cosmetic procedures to share their knowledge and experience. The service already has 30 million users. The cosmetic surgery market is expected to grow 25% annually and be worth ¥300 billion ($48 billion) by 2020.
A Giant Indoor Farm in China is Breeding 6 Billion Cockroaches a Year. Here’s why: Cockroaches in China are used as an ingredient in medicine or as a source of protein for livestock feed – cockroach milk is one of the world’s most nutritious and calorie-rich substances, scientist says. An AI-controlled factory in the city of Xichang, Sichuan breeds 28,000 full sized cockroaches annually per square foot in a multi-story building the size of two football feilds, where roaches are free to roam in the warm, humid and always-dark conditions. The farm had generated a total of ¥4.3 billion yuan ($684 million) in revenue over the years by manufacturing a potion made entirely of cockroaches.
When It Comes to Sports Success in China, It’s All About the Women: Chinese women outnumber men 5-to-1 for gold medals at the Winter Olympics. While Li Na won two Grand Slams and peaked at number 2, no Chinese male has cracked the top-100 in world tennis. Similarly for golf where Feng Shanshan is number 1. China’s women’s soccer team became the first to qualify for World Cup after hosts France, while the women’s rugby team won Hong Kong Sevens.
$100 Million on Hold: World Rugby Suspends China Programme Over Governance Changes: Alisports’ $100 million investment to develop the sport in China was “on hold” after slower-than-expected progress and confusion about who exactly was calling the shots at the top level in China.
Europe Accounts for 10% of Customized Travel by Outbound Chinese Tourists: Customized travel grew 130% last year in China. 2017 saw more than 6 million Chinese making their first entry to Europe. Females travelled more than males and 23% of total outbound tourists to Europe were over 50. The top five European countries for customized travel were Britain, Italy, France, Russia and Greece. On average, customized trips to Europe lasted around 12 days with tours not exceeding two countries.
China Leapfrogs New Zealand as Australia’s Top Tourist Source: Some 1.39 million Chinese visited Australia in the 12-months to February, up 13.2% on the year prior and for the first time exceeding travellers from neighbouring New Zealand by 30,000 people.
Alibaba’s Luxury Pavilion is One of the Most Intriguing Spaces on the Web: Since launching in in August 2017, Alibaba’s Luxury Pavilion has signed up nearly 50 brands, including Burberry, La Mer, LVMH-owned Givenchy and Rimowa, and Maserati. It’s Luxury Pavilion Club will provide customers with “access to exclusive offers, celebrity events, flexible payment options, priority purchases and door-to-door returns,” per Alibaba, and offer brands the ability to create “a personalized and seamless online-to-offline experience for its top customers.” Yves Saint Laurent Beauté’s promotional launch on the platform sold ¥38 million ($6 million) in 24 hours with over half of customers being 18-25.