This week’s news and trends in China:
Design Shanghai: Lessons from Trade Shows in China: 8 min video: We visited Asia’s biggest design event this month to discover how trade shows have evolved in a post-covid world.
Why it is No Longer Cool to be a Crazy Rich Asian in China: For years, China’s glamorous rich have been known to be ostentatious, showing off their luxury cars and handbags online – often to the envy of their followers. But increasingly, any kind of wealth flaunting – intentional or otherwise – is being met with hostility and disdain. The most likely targets are celebrities as well as the so-called fuerdai – second generation rich kids – because they are simply not deserving of their sky-high incomes.
China’s Covid-19 Border Restrictions ‘Could Drive Away Foreign Talent’: Three-quarters of European companies operating in China said they still had foreign workers stranded outside the country because of Covid travel restrictions. In the survey, 35% of companies reported a decrease in the number of foreign workers in the past five years, while only 18% said they had increased their foreign headcount. The number of foreign workers in China has been “nosediving” in the past five years, even before the coronavirus pandemic, with the exodus potentially undermining diversity of views in decision-making and harming corporate culture.
China’s Livestream Queen Makes Nice With Beijing: Not so long ago, internet celebrities in China belonged to a marginalized subculture. But since 2016, livestreaming ecommerce has become a hallmark of Chinese tech innovation and generated countless billions of dollars: Social commerce sales in China are projected to reach $363 billion in 2021, more than tripling the 2018 spend. In 2020, Viya sold $31 billion worth of goods, including a rocket-launch service, on her livestream show. She has a net worth of $1.25 billion. Her persona also fits into China’s mainstream (if frequently unrealistic) political typology: She’s married with a child, but she’s also a hard-working career woman. And she has become increasingly interlinked with Beijing and its ideals.
Modern Farming: Coronavirus Outbreak Spurs High-Tech Greenhouse Boom in China: Dozens of massive green houses are sprouting up on the outskirts of China’s megacities that utilise high-end technology to manage irrigation, temperature and lighting systems to grow vegetables within easy reach of a large and affluent consumer base. Since Covid there has been huge acceleration for fresh produce produced at the spot where it’s consumed. A growing affluent middle class, willing to pay more for higher quality food produced with less pesticides, is also fuelling the trend.
Bubble Tea Chain Nayuki Obtains Go-Ahead for $500 Million Hong Kong IPO: Premium bubble tea chain Nayuki Holdings is looking to become the first publicly-listed Chinese high-end beverage brand. Well-known for its refreshing fruit tea, foamy bubble tea and fancy baked goods, Nayuki currently operates 556 stores across mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and the US. It plans to open 300 new stores in 2021 and 350 next year in higher-tier Chinese cities, of which around 70% will be a new type of plush teahouses, “Nayuki Pro”. Almost 70% of current orders are made online, while 70% of the company’s consumers are Gen-Z and millennials. The Chinese tea beverage market is twice as big as the Chinese coffee market, valued at ¥442 billion ($69 billion) in 2020.
Travel Sites Cashing in On ‘Blind Box’ Craze: Blind boxes containing ‘lucky dips’ for toys have been hugely popular in China recently. In recent months, China’s travel platforms have been jumping on the craze, with Tongcheng-Elong launching an air ticket blind box product priced at ¥98 ($15) in April, attracting more than 20 million buyers. Trip.com offered hotel blind boxes for ¥699 ($109) and ¥999 ($156), and a ¥99 ($15) airline blind box with more than 100 domestic destinations. Fliggy’s ¥66 ($10) blind box feature, helped boost flight sales by 260% from May 31 to June 2, the long weekend after the gaokao exams. 89 million trips were taken during last weekend’s Dragon Boat Festival, up 94.1% from last year, with spending increasing 140%.
China’s ‘Elf Ear’ Cosmetic Surgery Increasingly Sought by Young People Seeking a Thinner, Slimmer Face: An “elf ear” usually refers to a birth defect that results in a pointed ear shape, but it’s now the latest fad among young Chinese females and males amid a rapidly growing cosmetic surgery market. The ears are believed to be able to make their faces look slimmer, and even younger. “I dare to say that after this ‘elf ear’ frenzy, there would be an army of beauty seekers requesting to get their original ears back, just like those ‘online celebrity nose’, ‘European-style double-fold eyelids’, etc that once were very popular,” says a cosmetic surgeon from Zhengzhou.
China Bans Extreme Sports in Wake of Gansu Ultramarathon Tragedy: China has indefinitely suspended extreme sports events, including ultramarathons, trail running and wingsuit flying, in response to the deaths of 21 long-distance runners in Gansu last month. It defined them as “high-risk sports events with unclear management responsibilities, imperfect rules and unclear safety protection standards.” 27 government officials have been punished over the deaths, including at least five arrests. The party chief in Jingtai county, where the race was held, has committed suicide as a result.
Sleepless in Chengdu: Chengdu has become the heartland for Chinese electronic music. During the New Year holiday break especially, the Sichuan capital can feel like the Ibiza of the East, popping off with music events, world-class DJs, and jampacked nightclubs for the entirety of the break. Since Covid, instead of bringing in international DJs, Chengdu clubs and promoters relied on China-based talent, of which there is no shortage.
41% of Chinese Consumers Want to Increase Luxury Spending: 41% of consumers in Mainland China said that they would spend more on luxury goods this year and 9% said they would spend less. They are most willing to increase or maintain spending on beauty and cosmetics, followed by clothing and shoes. Over 30% are willing to buy niche luxury brands in all luxury categories except watches. Official brand websites have become the first choice for online shopping accounting for 54% of online purchases. 36% actually spent more on luxury goods in 2020 than they previously had planned, with 41% in third-tier cities saying they did.
Will Fosun Fashion Group Be China’s LVMH? China’s Fosun Fashion Group is acquiring 100% of luxury Italian shoemaker Sergio Rossi, pledging to maintain its current leadership. The brand bolster’s Fosun’s portfolio which includes Caruso, St. John, Wolford, and Lanvin.
Hong Kong Star Karen Mok Comes Under Fire in China for Wearing Dolce & Gabbana in Music Video: Hong Kong pop singer Karen Mok has been forced to issue an apology after she prompted controversy on Chinese social media for wearing Dolce & Gabbana in her latest music video.
Tesla’s China-Made Vehicle Sales Surge 29% in May: Tesla sold 33,463 China-made electric cars in May, including 11,527 exports – a 29% jump from April. Although it was still below the near-36,000 it shipped in its record March, it was its third-best month on record. China’s new electric vehicle sales surged 177% to 185,000 cars in May from a year earlier. Overall passenger vehicle sales rose just 1.1% to 1.66 million cars.