This week’s China market and marketing news:
China’s Holiday Travel Is Back to 80% of Pre-Pandemic Level: 637 million trips were made over Golden Week – more than the estimated 600 million. The total was 81% of last year’s holiday, although this year had an extra day. Domestic tourism spending was 28% down. Many brands in the luxury hospitality sector are back to pre-Covid levels of occupancy. The bounce back has been hailed as further confirmation of China’s revival and confidence. More than 99 million movie tickets were sold during the holiday, marking the second-highest National Day holiday China has seen. Anthology drama film “My People, My Homeland” topped the table grossing ¥185 billion ($280 million) for the week.
Consumption Plays Preeminent Role in Driving China’s GDP Growth: Experts: During the Golden Week holiday, retail and catering sales totalled ¥1.6 trillion ($239 billion), up 5% year on year. Nominal retail sales could show a year-on-year growth of 1.6% in September, from 0.5% in August, thanks to continuous recovery of catering demand and solid goods sales. China’s GDP is expected to expand 5.4% year on year in the third quarter, up from 3.2% in the second quarter, according to a recent research note by Bank of America Global Research.
Coronavirus Pandemic: China Is Experiencing a K-Shaped Economic Recovery: Although China is humming again with retail sales above pre-COVID levels, services activity growing at its fastest pace in three months and exports rising at double digits, most households in the bottom 60% – or those earning less than ¥100,000 ($14,650) a year – said their wealth declined in the first half of 2020. Those earning more than ¥300,000 a year reported net gains. China’s 415 billionaires have seen their wealth soar 41% since lockdown.
China Internet Services Struggle to Recover from Covid-19 as Country’s Internet Users Reach 940 Million: China’s rural folk accounted for 30 million of the 36 million rise since March, with 52.3% of the rural population online as of June, up from 39.8% a year earlier. 749 million Chinese shopped online, almost 80% of the connected population. There were 380 million online education users in June, down 10% from March, but up from 232 million a year ago. Ride hailing is still hurting, and food delivery grew 3% in the quarter but is still 12 million down from Jun 2019 at 409 million. Livestreaming grew just 0.4% between March and June, following a 41.1% spike from the end of 2018. People are now spending an average of 28 hours online each week, nearly 3 hours less than in March. This is roughly the same amount of time that people spent online last year.
From AI to Facial Recognition: How China is Setting the Rules in New Tech: Standard-setting has largely been the preserve of a small group of industrialised democracies for decades. Everything from the width of train tracks, to software, satellites, the frequencies that mobile phones use and a whole gamut of rules about how electronic gadgets work and process data have been decided by western-dominated standards organisations. But China now has other ideas. An intensifying US-China battle to dominate standards, especially in emerging technologies, could start to divide the world into different industrial blocs. China’s greatest potential lies in areas where standards have yet to be collectively developed and defined. Chinese companies have done 116 deals to install “smart city” and “safe city” packages around the world since 2013, including 25 in Western and Southern Europe.
Alibaba’s Freshippo (Hema) Opens First Membership-Only Store in Shanghai, Challenging Costco and Sam’s Club: Goods bought in the X store can be delivered within half a day to customers living within a 20-kilometre radius of the store. Freshippo also launched its own private brand Hema MAX, which sells a variety of products including rice, cooking oil, yoghurt and nuts. Over 40% of the products in the membership-only X store are Freshippo’s exclusive products, including those from Hema MAX, with 10% from overseas factories. By the end of June, there were 214 Freshippo stores across China, primarily located in tier 1 and tier 2 cities. In Shanghai alone, there are about 500,000 X members so far.
ByteDance’s Entry into Coffee Market, “ByteCoffee” Trademark in Process of Registration: Bytedance, the tech giant behind Douyin, Tiktok and Toutiao has applied for a number of “ByteCoffee” trademarks in classes “30 – Convenient Food” and “43 – Catering and Accommodation,” in a sign that we may see some ByteCoffee cafes soon.
The Pandemic Food Trend Taking China by Storm: Luosifen or river snail rice noodles — a smelly, humble noodle dish — has experienced an unexpected boom during the COVID-19 pandemic. What started off as a street snack in Liuzhou was soon replicated in restaurants across China, before selling online in instant pre-packaged form. Luosifen was one of the top 20 best-selling foods on Taobao during the lockdown, and sales could have been higher if many stores hadn’t sold out.
Chinese Travellers are Resorting to a New Kind of Holiday: 45% of travellers it surveyed prefer a sea-side holiday or one pleasant place to cozy up for a few days, instead of trying to hit several tourist spots. Urban resorts are first choices for National Day holiday travellers this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with 85% of guests at IHG’s Shanghai Wonderland from Shanghai, and the rest are from neighbouring Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. Travelling for Chinese consumers is more about family bonding and strengthening relationships with friends. People are also looking for wellness through travelling.
Japan to Welcome Chinese Business Travel from Next Month: Another sign that Chinese may slowly start to travel beyond the Mainland: Japan is changing the status of China and 11 other countries and regions from a “ban” to a “refrain from unnecessary and non-urgent visits” in order to stimulate business stifled this year by pandemic-related travel restrictions.
For Millennials, Health is the New Wealth: Stressed and overworked millennial consumers are buying up a slew of innovative health products and services such as supplements, gadgets like wrist bands, beverages, dry fruits, organic foods, powders, diets and fitness regimens advised by professionals. Half of respondents to a CBNData health survey in July said they experienced hair loss and decreased vision; about 40% had obesity and weakened athletic ability; and 30% said their immunity worsened since COVID. Over 90% of people born after 1990 were aware of the importance of a health regimen, and 50% actually took action.
The Future of Fashion Week? Look to Shanghai: Just as Shanghai Fashion Week showed the world how to run a fashion event during a pandemic in March, it is doing it again this week. The blueprint for future fashion weeks is not a return to the former physical format, but a hybrid model, with live events supplemented with live streams and digital showrooms, catering to both a local audience and a global crowd who can’t be there in person.
Chinese State Television Lifts Yearlong Ban on NBA Games, But Nationalists Want It To Stay: CCTV televised Game 5 of the 2020 NBA finals, roughly a year after the network pulled the league off the air in response to a tweet by a Houston Rockets executive supporting protesters in Hong Kong. Criticism of Xinjiang policies by Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert appeared to have had little impact. The decision to air the game was helped by the league’s support with combating the COVID-19 pandemic in China and its “unwavering kindness” to Chinese fans.
How Shanghai Summoned the World’s Esports Athletes Amid COVID-19: After cancelling a string of high-profile sports events in 2020, Shanghai made an exception to host the League of Legends World Championship allowing 22 teams from countries around the world to compete exclusively via PCs inside a spectator-less arena. Even Nike is getting on the Esports wagon, having just released its epic and first ever Esports ad.