This week’s news and trends in China:
What the West Gets Wrong About China: Many people have wrongly assumed that political freedom would follow new economic freedoms in China and that its economic growth would have to be built on the same foundations as in the West. These assumptions are rooted in three essentially false beliefs about modern China: (1) Economics and democracy are two sides of the same coin; (2) authoritarian political systems can’t be legitimate; and (3) the Chinese live, work, and invest like Westerners.
Number of Unhappy Wives in China More than Doubled Since 2012: One in five women in China said last year that they regret getting married. Divorces as a percentage of marriages, was slightly above 20% in 2009. In 2019 it hit 50%. Meanwhile the number of women in rural areas and small cities are nowhere near as eager to jump into marriage as men – 60% of men are prepared to settle whereas 65% of women would only marry if they were in a “high-quality relationship.”
China’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Exceed Those of US and Developed Countries Combined: China’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 exceeded those of the US and other developed nations combined according to Rhodium Group. China is now responsible for more than 27% of total global emissions. The US, the world’s second-highest emitter, accounts for 11% of the global total. India is responsible for 6.6% of global emissions, edging out the 27 nations in the EU, which account for 6.4%. The findings come after a climate summit President Joe Biden hosted last month, during which Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated a pledge to make sure the nation’s emissions peak by 2030.
How Brands Should Approach Sustainability in China: Sustainable issues are rising up the agenda for Chinese consumers, but they have different priorities. They also don’t want to listen to lectures.
Everything You Need to Know About the Ximalaya IPO: Ximalaya’s podcasts, audiobooks, audio drama shows, livestreaming, education programs and audio comics make up 75% of total mobile listening time across audio platforms in China. It has 250 million average monthly users and 5.2 million content producers who shared their work, paid or free, in 2020. Despite the large user base, audio monthly active users only counted for 16.1% of China’s total mobile internet users in 2020, a penetration rate far below the 47% in the US.
Hit Variety Show Suspended After Competition Causes Tons of Bottled Milk to be Wasted: Season 3 of hit Chinese variety show Youth With You was suspended after being accused of wasting large amounts of milk, amid the country’s strengthened efforts in eradicating food wastage. Viewers were encouraged to scan QR codes inside Mengniu milk caps to vote for their favourite trainee idols on the show, but many young fans reportedly purchased large amounts of the milk, scanned the codes and then ‘poured the milk into sewers’.
Fizzy Beer Stocks Are Due for a Bar Fight in China: Budweiser said its revenue in China last quarter grew 93% year on year while its earnings more than tripled, with both measures above 2019 levels. Tsingtao Brewery also saw revenue and profit above 2019 levels. On-premise consumption of premium beer accounts for 63% of sales in China further validating that consumers are back at the bars. China’s beer market by value expanded 21% from 2016 to 2019 even though sales by volume only grew 0.6% indicating that consumers are getting pickier and trading up. [paywall]
Competition Brewing Up in China’s RTD Coffee Market: Black coffee, premium and multiple flavours are driving the rapid growth of RTD coffee in the Chinese market. In March, Nestle’s Nescafe launched a new RTD coffee product Sakura Souffle SmoovLatte developed in its China R&D centre, following its popular Sakura Plum Latte RTD which launched last spring. Coke-owned Costa Coffee’s RTD products are available in more than 150,000 retail locations including supermarkets and convenience stores in the country.
Who Really Buys Fine Wine?: In the US and UK about 75% of buyers of fine wine are men, whereas males account for just half of buyers in Mainland China and Hong Kong. Chinese are most likely to prize ageworthiness, but are least likely to care about a complex taste and regional typicity. Two-thirds of mainland Chinese wine drinkers sometimes spend more than the equivalent of $75 on a bottle of wine, versus 10% in Britain and 7% in the US. Chinese consumers listed China as the top source of fine wines. Bordeaux was tied with Australia.
China Tourist Trips Top Pre-Pandemic Levels Over May Day Break, Revenues Still Lower: Chinese tourists made around 230 million trips over the extended May Day holiday as domestic travel surpassed pre-coronavirus pandemic levels by 3%, and was 120% up on 2020. But consumers spent less on their holidays, with domestic tourism revenues only 77% of pre-virus levels at ¥113.2 billion ($17.5 billion). Many travellers used express-delivery services to mail out their luggage to popular travel destinations ahead of their journeys. Luggage was able to arrive as fast as the next day. Very sustainable.
China Box Office Sets Another Record With $258 Million Across May Day Holiday As 2021 Tops $3.4 Billion: China’s box office across the five-day May Day holiday hit a record high of ¥1.67 billion ($258 million). This is up from the ¥1.53 billion grossed during the similar 2019 holiday which lasted four days. Total takings since the beginning of the year have now surpassed all of 2020 with domestic films most popular. China fantasy fans have flocked to cinemas for The Lord of the Rings trilogy return.
Why So Many Young Chinese Seek Plastic Surgery: In 2019 the Chinese “medical-aesthetics” industry (which includes surgery, injections and skin treatments) had revenue of $27 billion, growing at 29% p.a. on average between 2015 and 2019. Figures can be vague due to a huge hidden market. For example, Dongguan city has over 6,000 unlicensed clinics but only 43 licensed ones. In 2020 61% of patients were aged 16-25, up from 48% two years earlier. Men accounted for 30% of the market. In America, 81% of cosmetic-surgery patients are over 30 and nearly one-quarter are over 55. It’s believed part of the reason young people have surgery is the influence of Confucian parenting, which means that children grow up without unconditional approval. This normally leads to academic pressure, she says, but it can also be internalised so that children feel the need to improve their appearance from a young age. Double-eyelid surgery accounts for half of all treatments. [paywall]
Adidas Reports 150% Sales Hike in China Despite Local Boycott Over Human Rights: Adidas said sales in China grew by 156% over the first three months of the year – although this period was mostly before the Xinjiang cotton issues started in late March. Adidas still maintains a 17% share of brand preference among young Chinese in the sportswear category and Nike reigns supreme at 27% according to Riwi research, but immediate sales on Tmall slumped 78% for Adidas and 57% for Nike on Tmall in April. Anta sales grew 59% and Li Ning 92%.
Chinese Netizens Infuriated by “Live Animal Mystery Box” Industry: The business of live animals being sold online as pet lucky dips transported through regular courier services, has caused outrage online in China. The packages are offered at prices as low as ¥9.9 yuan ($1.50) for a mystery live animal.