This week’s China market and marketing news:
China’s Economic Dragon Is Spitting Fire Again: The Asian giant, felled by Covid just months ago, appears to have pulled off a remarkable turnaround and may be set to drive another economic growth cycle. This month has already seen the Chinese stock market’s strongest five-day performance in more than five years, and one of the strongest on record. The RMB is appreciating. The most significant sign of Chinese economic strength is the industrial metal prices, which have risen 20% since late-March.
CIIE Brings Exhibitors and Buyers Together: Despite the global pandemic, the China International Import Expo is pressing ahead, with the first matchmaking meeting of the third CIIE taking place last Friday. The event brought together more than 300 exhibitors and buyers, including over 50 overseas exhibiting companies and over 100 purchasers.
China’s Pinduoduo Is Nipping at Alibaba’s Heels: Pinduoduo’s monthly active users climbed 40% in May from a year ago to 471 million, narrowing the gap with Alibaba’s Taobao app, whose users increased 20% to 695 million. Some of Pinduoduo’s growth came as the app, known as a marketplace for cheap goods like $1 pairs of shoes and $2 handbags, began to sell popular brand-name items at significant discounts [paywall].
Pinduoduo Teams Up with Foreign Embassies to Promote Overseas Merchandises: Late last month PDD held a live broadcast with the Royal Thai Consulate in Shanghai, showcasing the Southeast Asian kingdom’s tropical fruits. The livestream was the latest in June following sessions with Denmark, Serbia, Latvia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria.
Pinduoduo’s Duo Duo University Equips Ecommerce Merchants with Skills in Setting Up Digital Business: In the same vein as Alibaba’s Taobao University and Meituan University, Pinduoduo’s Duo Duo University program has developed into an official online education platform for all merchants to learn step-by-step how to build their digital business since launching last year. The courses it provides range from “naming your online store” to “setting prices for your products”, as well as guidance on the stores’ daily operation, customer service and marketing in the forms of articles, video and livestreaming sessions.
China Internet Report 2020: South China Morning Post’s deep insights into China’s 900 million internet users’ behaviour with key trends including: 1) The lasting impact of COVID-19 on China’s tech sector; 2) China’s accelerated self reliance for tech; and 3) The year of mass adoption for 5G. The average netizen increased their time online from 5.6 to 7.2 hours a day in March from a year earlier, largely as a result of the coronavirus. Work productivity app usage grew 242% to 435 million users. Monthly active short video users grew 16% to a staggering 870 million, driving 170% growth in video editing apps to 145 million. The number of livestreaming users are expected to grow 19% to 613 million this year.
Ele.me Unveils Upgrades to Meet Needs of China’s On-Demand Economy: Delivery app Ele.me now offers both food and non-food deliveries. On July 17, a new version of the app will also include upgraded features, such as personalized recommendations, live and recorded video content from participating merchants and an improved membership program with added benefits. In June, the number of merchants on the app increased by 30% year-on-year, with the fastest growth in non-restaurant sectors including beauty products, books, flowers, baby-care products and toys.
Social Media Site Weibo to Heavily Restrict External Links: Weibo will restrict links to all sites/platforms with the exception of a whitelist including those owned by government bodies, licensed media, major web portals, and verified companies. The move is a bid to resolve Weibo’s long-running problem with bots luring users to sign up for gambling or pornography sites, or pyramid schemes. In late March, the platform began to ban users who shared links to ecommerce sites Taobao, Tmall and JD.com, ordering them to use a marketplace management tool called Weibo Xiaodian to list items.
China Scales Back Meat Imports Over Virus Concerns: Customs officials from several Chinese cities believe there is a “good chance” that the virus could stay alive in a frozen container and have stepped up inspections of frozen food imports at ports. This has led to backlogs of up to two weeks and a shortage in storage space, delaying the supply of food to Chinese cities and pushing up food prices. Inspections of 223,000 samples of frozen imported food had not found any traces of the virus until last week, when six samples from three frozen shrimp companies from Ecuador were found to have a container and packaging “under the risk of becoming contaminated,” although there is no confirmation that they can transmit the virus. Since mid-June, Beijing has suspended imports from 14 pork, poultry and beef plants in countries including the US, Brazil, the Netherlands, Germany and Canada, while another seven plants, including those in Argentina, UK and Italy, have voluntarily stopped shipments to China. As a result, Chinese pork prices have rebounded by almost 50% since this year’s low in May [paywall].
Craft Beer in China: A Brief and Complete History: Many breweries work with locally sourced ingredients. Tea is a popular ingredient, as in Master Gao’s Baby Jasmine Tea Lager. Great Leap’s Honey Ma Gold prominently features the Sichuan peppercorn. And Shanghai’s MingRi Brewing makes a Durian Porter, taking a divisive fruit in an unexpectedly satisfying direction. Others riff on local traditions. Shangri-la Brewery makes Son Gha, a play on a traditional Tibetan barley beer. Jing-A (re)created the Mijiaya Neolithic Ale, a sour that used local ingredients fermented with wild Shaanxi yeast, based on findings from a 5,000-year-old excavation site. More improbable still is Wuhan-based Devils’ Brewery’s Hot Dry Noodle Stout, which captures the flavour of a popular local dish in liquid form.
JD Group Renews Tourism Bid With BTG Deal: JD’s renewed push into the tourism sector underscores its confidence in the industry’s revival, investing in a strategic partnership with BTG (Beijing Tourism Group) to digitalise its consumer-facing services across its travel agencies, dining, hotels, shopping, and entertainment. The BTG investment comes more than one month after JD pumped ¥450 million ($63 million) in travel service Caissa, for a 7.4% stake.
Reservations a New Travel Habit for Chinese Consumers: 81.7% of surveyed tourists booked trips during the recent three-day Dragon Boat Festival holiday, up 4.3 percentage points over the Labour Day holiday. A report from the China Tourism Academy said that the “internet plus tourism” strategy should be accelerated by building a batch of smart tourism cities, scenic areas and villages, as well as combining data collection, analysis and application. This can help make public tourist services smarter and more informative to improve the level of service, boost the tourist experience, create more innovative tourism management and optimize tourism resource utilization.
China Cancels All International Sports Events for the Year: China says it will not stage any international sports for the rest of the year, apart from trials for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and the neighbouring city of Zhangjiakou. Large golf, tennis, F1, and cycling events that were planned for the year have all been canned.
Tencent Leads $40 Million Investment in Online Art Educator: Chinese online drawing education startup Meishubao has secured $40 million in its latest round of funding led by Tencent, which is also behind some of China’s better-known online educators including VIPKid and Yuanfudao. The platform has served nearly 10 million users in 94 countries with 200,000 active paying users, and is representative of increasingly arts-based interests and growing diversity of online learning.