Here are this week’s news and highlights for China:
Chinese Consumer Confidence Remains Weak in Fourth Quarter as Beijing Looks for Answer to Economic Worries: China’s consumer confidence nudged up a fraction to 99.4 in the October-December quarter last year, up from 99.3 in the previous three months – but well below the 105.1 of the last quarter of 2017. Well-marketed brands appear to continue showing healthy grow with Nike posting a 31% increase in quarterly revenue for Greater China last month and Audi growing 11% to 660,888 cars (seriously, 888?) despite China’s auto market contracting by 6% for its fall in two decades.
WeChat’s Star Founder Seeks Second Act for China’s Super-App: WeChat needs to stay relevant for those hundreds of millions of users who just want something simple to use, that looks good and is entertaining, and are used to newer, shinier things being launched.
Tencent’s Future Requires Tapping into the Long Tail: With WeChat’s user numbers reaching saturation the app plans to focus more on business apps, much of WeChat Mini Program’s growth is being driven by niche applications.
Small WeChat Vendors Lose Their Jobs Due to China’s New E-commerce Law: Smaller WeChat vendors have stopped using words such as price, products, are hand drawing product profiles and even stopping even accepting WeChat payments as a way to avoid having to register a company to sell on the platform or face fines up to ¥2 million ($300K) following China’s new ecommerce laws. Chinese shopping agents (daigou) are feeling the chill as the new law takes effect.
Amid Intensified Scrutiny, Baidu Removes 50 Billion Pieces of ‘Harmful’ Content: Baidu removed 50 billion pieces of content last year including pornography, drug use, gambling, and fraud – up from 45 billion in 2017.
China’s Top Gay Dating App Stops Accepting New Users After Claims it Put Minors at Risk: Dating app Blued, which says it has more than 40 million users worldwide, said in a statement Sunday that the week-long halt will enable it to review the claims and make improvements to the app. Despite homosexuality remaining a sensitive subject in China, Blued has continued to grow, moving beyond straightforward matchmaking services into live-streaming and gaming. Last year, it raised $100 million in funds.
China’s Xiaomi Places a $1.5 Billion Bet on AI and Smart Devices: Xiaomi believes the future will be about ‘AIoT’, the combination of AI and the so-called ecosystem of connected devices known as the Internet of Things.
Can an App Clean Up the Overseas Image of Chinese Tourists?: New Chinese-language tourism app ‘Shake to Win’ adds to the increasing list of tools targeting independent millennial travellers wanting to keep away from the tour groups. Instead of listing shopping malls or Michelin restaurants, the Chinese-language app acts as a cultural directory, compiling around 1,500 heritage locations around Europe – ranging from decades-old artisan cheese shops to sites like the Van Gogh home in Brabant.
China’s Box Office Increases by 9% to $8.9 Billion in 2018: China’s box office grew 9%, meeting Beijing targets, but down on last year’s increase of 13.5%. Admissions increased by 6% to 1.72 billion over the course of the year, while the total number of screens grew by 9,033 to reach 60,079. Chinese films’ share of takings grew from 54% to 62%, with Chinese New Year releases Operation Red Sea the top-grossing film on $530.8 million, followed by Detective Chinatown 2. Avengers Infinity War was the highest-grossing Hollywood movie, and the fifth biggest film overall, with $347.5 million, joined in the top ten by four other US studio movies – Venom, Aquaman, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Ready Player One.
Manchester United to Open Series of ‘Entertainment Centres’ Showing their Games Live in China: ManU is opening facilities in the heart of Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang, and will use state-of-the art technology for club-themed exhibitions and experiences – as well as featuring restaurants and a merchandise store. The club says the centres will allow their estimated 100 million Chinese fans to “experience the thrill of a match day at Old Trafford” as well as learn the history and heritage of English football’s most successful and storied club.
China Investigates Latest Vaccine Scandal After Violent Protests: Another scandal eroding Chinese parent’s trust as more than 100 children aged 3 months to 4 years received expired polio vaccines. In a rare display of contempt against the authorities, dozens of emotionally-charged parents surrounded the party secretary of Jinhu, chanting: “Beat him, beat him.”
Chinese Students are Hooked on Homework Apps… Because they Have Games and Sexually Explicit Content: Many schools in China use a lot of “study apps” which let students do their homework online, search textbooks and exam papers for reference, and also lets them connect with teachers and take online lectures. Students can even do exams in some of the apps. Yet some apps use games and sexually suggestive material to hook the students and Beijing and parents aren’t happy. China had more than 145 million monthly users of K12 education apps in 2018, up 41% from 2017.
3 Marketing Gurus on Strategies for Selling Luxury to China in 2019: In this new and subdued climate, luxury goods brands must consider shifting strategies.
Elon Musk’s Warm Reception in China is a Wake-Up Call to Tesla’s Skeptics: Nice to see some positive news in US-China relations as construction begins on Tesla’s Shanghai factory and Elon Musk is offered a green card by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Tesla expects to start producing its cheapest car, the Model 3, by the end of the year. Here’s a good infographic for a view into the scale of the EV sales in China versus the US.