Mark Tanner
Mark Tanner
23 March 2021 0 Comments

This week’s news and trends in China:

Consumers,  Chinese Consumers

China’s 2021 Growth: Targets and Truths: China’s 2021 outlook hangs on three questions. First, how will the pandemic shape economic activity in China and the rest of the world, and will there be a reversion to “normal”? Second, how will advanced economy pushback against China evolve, and will it affect external balances or alter investor and consumer confidence about the future? And third, what will China’s policy approach look like?

Intel Faces Uproar Over Laptop Ad Using ‘Sexist’ Female Stand-Up Comic: Stand-up comedian Yang Li caught her big break last year for sarcastic attacks on men during online gigs. Intel’s advert triggered controversy after saying “Intel has a taste for laptops that is higher than my taste for men.” Intel has removed the ad. Li was besieged by online trolls and even anonymously reported to the state cultural publication regulator for allegedly being “sexist” after she mocked men as “they look so mediocre, yet they manage to be so confident” during a show in December 2020.

Alibaba’s Tmall Introduces Intellectual Property Trading Platform IPmart: Collaborations using ‘IP’ increased by 60% on Tmall last year. To service the trend, Alibaba is launching an IP trading platform. The top Chinese collaborations in 2020 were B.Duck; The Palace Museum; Dunhuang Academy China; the reality show “Youth With You;” and Popmart. Other popular collabs were with Mickey Mouse, Hello Kitty, Paul Frank, Tom and Jerry, Mulan, NBA, Gundam, Pokemon, NASA, Dragon Ball, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Marvel, Coca-Cola, and Sesame Street.

Think Covid’s Messed Up Your Travel Plans? Try Getting Into China: For the past year, people trying to go to China have run into some of the world’s most formidable barriers to entry. To stop the coronavirus, China bans tourists and short-term business travelers outright, and it sets tough standards for all other foreigners, even those who have lived there for years.

Expats Can Get Vaccine Shots from Monday: For expats in Shanghai, vaccination shots will be available from next week, the Shanghai Health Commission announced yesterday. Bookings can be made by scanning a QR code.

Online: Digital China

By One Key Measure, Alibaba is No Longer China’s Largest Ecommerce Company: Pinduoduo grew its annual active buyers by 57 million in 2020 to 788.4. This was higher than Alibaba’s 779 million and’s 471 million. Alibaba was still ahead of Pinduoduo in December for monthly active users with more than 900 million users, compared with 720 million. Alibaba reported $33.9 billion in GMV in Q4, compared with $4 billion for Pinduoduo.

Alibaba Said to Launch Bargain Marketplace Taobao Deals as Mini-Program on Tencent’s WeChat: Taobao Deals has launched a WeChat Mini Program to tap into the explosion of social commerce on WeChat, ending years of isolation between China’s two-biggest tech companies. Taobao Deals will accept WeChat Pay – the first Alibaba platform to do so.

China’s New Obsession: ‘Private Traffic’: Acquiring new users is getting expensive as internet growth slows. So Big Tech is trying to deepen engagement with the ones they have, capturing “public traffic” and turning it into “private traffic.” Private traffic can come from users dedicated to a company’s app, or from followers of an influencer’s personal livestreaming channels. Pinduoduo was onto the trend early.

Premium Food & Beverage

Restaurant Staff in China Caught Reusing Leftover Food, Not Washing Dirty Hands: Workers at two popular restaurant chains in China have been caught on undercover video reusing leftover food scraps and handling meals with filthy hands. Man Ling restaurant, which has 1,000-plus locations throughout China and markets itself as “healthy” and Sanmi Congee, which is another famous chain restaurant with over 1,100 stores across China.

IFF Unveils Anti-Staling Enzymes for Indulgent Sweet Baked Goods in China: “Softness,” “crunchy/crispy” and “moistness” are the top three texture criteria considered by consumers when they’re considering which bakery product to purchase. Consumer behaviour is centred around affordability, indulgence, convenience, health and wellness, and sustainability. Healthy indulgence is at the forefront of innovation for the bakery category.

What is Hema / Freshippo?: 1 min video from Alibaba giving a quick view of what New Retail supermarket Hema is about and some of the new offshoots such as Freshippo Mini for price-conscious shoppers and Freshippo Pick & Go which serves up a quick breakfast for office workers on the go.

Overall Beauty

Why China Can’t Get Enough Niche Western Beauty: Chinese consumers have become fond of using niche skincare products to define their individuality. Western beauty brands are already making waves by unveiling hot-selling products on China’s ecommerce platforms.

Staying Health

LemonBox is Personalising Nutrition for Chinese Millennials: Cross border, D2C health supplements seller Lemonbox provides individualised service for Chinese consumers using big data and US-registered nutritionists and dieticians to produce tailored plans for various supplements online. The company’s services have reached over 1 million users in China. About 75% of Chinese plan to prioritize a healthier diet after the health crisis according to a McKinsey survey.

Entertainment & Adult

Shenzhen Shutters Sex Doll Hotels Frequented by Migrant Workers: Authorities shut down the facilities without explanation. The 34-year-old founder said he started his business after realizing that there were some 120,000 male factory workers with limited means of fulfilling their sexual needs. Large cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, and Tianjin have several such hotels — some have dozens — with a steady clientele. There have been concerns about poor hygiene and sanitation.

Autos and Cars

China’s SAIC Partners With US Lidar Maker Luminar on Self-Driving Cars: China’s largest automaker, SAIC plans to begin offering self-driving vehicles in that market in 2022 – assuming the pan-Pacific supply chain isn’t impacted by geopolitical issues. Tesla cars are banned in China’s military complexes and housing compounds due to camera concerns.