This week’s news and trends in China:
Will China’s Borders Really Remain Closed for Another Year?: China is unlikely to relax current border restrictions for at least another year due to a pair of sensitive events: the Winter Olympics in February and a once-a-decade power transition within the ruling Chinese Communist Party toward the end of the year. Meanwhile, Guangzhou is going to build a giant Covid-19 quarantine facility with 5,000 spaces for international travellers.
What Do China’s Enduring Border Restrictions Mean for Luxury Goods Sales and the Daigou Trade? The enduring travel and border restrictions in China will almost certainly help spur increased activity again in the $57 billion daigou industry, as luxury buyers in China are being forced to do much of their shopping at home.
Chinese Less Favourable to Australia Amid Strained Ties: A poll by China’s nationalist newspaper Global Times has found that Australia dropped from the top destination to study in 2020 to second-place in 2021. The average score of preference for Australia dropped from 65.3 to 55.6. ‘Factors involving the US’ is seen as the biggest obstacle affecting the China-Australia relations.
Chicken Parenting is China’s Helicopter Parenting on Steroids: “Chicken parents,” are named after a traditional Chinese medicine fad during the Cultural Revolution involving the injection of chicken blood as cure-all for countless ills, from baldness to infertility to cancer. “Chinese kids in the past had extracurriculars, but it didn’t serve any purpose except to cultivate hobbies or fun,” says a high school teacher in Shanghai. “Today, chicken babies play chess to improve cognitive skills, participate in Math Olympiad for logical reasoning, sports to prevent myopia…Everything has to serve one purpose: to be good at school.”
China’s Middle-Aged, Rural Residents Are More Likely to Have Third Child, Survey Shows: Chinese people over the age of 40 and those residing in rural areas have indicated the highest tendency to take advantage of the country’s new three-child policy introduced last month. In the survey overall, 2% said they did not want any children, 67% preferred to have just one child, 23% said they would like two children and just 8% wanted three children, although that number dropped to 4.3% in urban areas.
China Takes Aim at Educational Costs as It Seeks to Reverse Birthrate Decline: China is planning new policies to rein in rising education costs seen as deterring couples from having more children. Among the measures are new laws and tighter regulations aimed at private education companies that offer tutoring services. Beijing policy makers are also discussing measures to deal with real estate frenzies that have sprung up in desirable school districts in China’s wealthy cities. [paywall]
Sweat and Sacrifice: Five Stories of Gaokao: Last week China released the results of the gaokao, its gruelling national college entrance examination. On June 7 and 8, nearly 10.8 million students across the country took part in the life-changing examination, making it the largest gaokao in Chinese history. Five current, former, and upcoming test-takers speak about their gaokao experiences, their hopes for the future, and how the gaokao changed their lives.
Agencies Behind China’s Top Livestreaming Stars Plan IPOs: Live-streaming e-commerce’s $149 billion business in China may go through further changes as the agencies behind Viya and “lipstick king” Austin Li plan IPOs, giving them capital to upgrade, leaving lower tier agencies further behind.
How Can Brands Leverage WeChat to Build DTC Ecommerce in China?: Besides making sure that WeChat stores are constantly updated with the latest campaign content and key dates in the Chinese calendar, brands should leverage visually enticing rich media formats such as videos or animations as well. Brands can afford to have a wider and more complete assortment of products on its WeChat Store than on Tmall, including launching exclusive WeChat collections or by offering early access to new products.
Australian Lobsters Getting into China via Hong Kong: Since direct shipments to China virtually ground to a halt in November last year following the geopolitical ban, Hong Kong has become the world’s largest importer of Australian lobsters, with monthly trade growing more than 2,000% from October last year to April. In 2019-2020, China accounted for 93% of Australia’s A$544 million ($413 million) lobster exports.
Behind the Success of Chicecream, China’s Signature Ice Cream Brand: Ice cream makers Chicecream and Zhongjie 1946 are examples of rising Chinese brands in the premium space. Chicecream has falsely claimed that its ice cream contained zero water, advertised that it used “premium red grapes from Xinjiang Turpan vineyard” that were actually raisins sold in retail stores and its “internationally acclaimed aged cheddar” had not won international awards, yet it still manages to charge over $10 an ice cream and grow at mouthwatering rates.
Chunbo Introduces NZ Apple Blind Boxes: Even apples are playing their part in China’s blind box craze, with consumers having the option for a lucky dip six to nine different varieties of New Zealand apples on the Chunbo platform, following a strategic relationship with NZTE.
China’s Competitive Coffee Shop Scene Keeps Owners on Their Toes: There are nearly 7,000 coffee shops in Shanghai, and just over half of them are boutique stores. “The life cycle of a coffee shop [in Shanghai] is usually two to three years. We’ve been open for about a year, and this street is already full of coffee shops. I am under big pressure,” says a Shanghai coffee shop owner.
Coach CEO Talks China: From Digital-First to Staff as KOLs: Coach’s brand awareness is over 90% in China, second only to its home market, the US. Coach is leading with a digital-first mindset. Besides hosting hundreds of sessions every month in stores with regular KOLs, Coach has systematically trained sales associates to become brand KOLs. The brand has also joined forces with Shanghai Donghua University to launch a course called China Cool to facilitate international exchanges between global and Chinese designers, discovering and empowering local fashion talent.