Mark Tanner
6 July 2021 0 Comments

This week’s news and trends in China:

Consumers,  Chinese Consumers

Sony Apologises for Choosing Anniversary of Japanese Invasion of China as Launch Date for Newest Smartphones: Sony’s poor choice of date was magnified because the announcement was made the day before the Communist Party celebrated its 100th anniversary.

How DVF Embraced Digital to Engage the Global Consumer: There are two important and slightly contradictory components for success in China. One is tenacity: It is impossible to connect with the Chinese audience and gain credibility if your plan is to try it for six months and then bail if it doesn’t work. You need to plan to be in the market for a good period of time. Once you’re there, however, you have to be agile and quick to adapt, because the Chinese consumer is rapidly changing.

H&M’s Sales in China Plunge 23% in Q2: Swedish fashion retailer H&M saw a plunge of 23%, or $74 million, in its China sales in the second quarter following the Xinjiang cotton challenge. In Q1 – before the backlash – China was H&M’s third-largest market behind the US and Germany, accounting for nearly 6% of the company’s sales. It was the only major market which grew. During a bustling afternoon at H&M’s flagship store in Shanghai last month, several customers said that the Xinjiang cotton issue prompted them to avoid H&M a couple of months ago. But one young couple said the government allowed stores to remain open, which they interpreted as tacit permission to shop there. Others were drawn in by sales at the store.

What’s in a Name? The Importance of Chinese-Language Brand Names: Chinese language versions of brand names are not only effective from a consumer standpoint, but also to protect and reinforce the strength of their trademarks and broader brand awareness in the market. There is the risk that if brands do not select Chinese names for themselves, consumers will inevitably do it for them, and will use the name(s) they choose when they refer to the company and its products, potentially resulting in names that companies do not approve of.

New Policies to Attract Foreign Talent to China: At present, more than 10,000 companies in Shanghai have received the certification that is needed to hire foreign talents with high-end scientific innovation skills. The new measures aim to bring more tech, innovative and highly skilled foreign workers to Shanghai.

他/TA/X也: What Pronouns Do Chinese Queer People Use?: The Chinese language is largely genderless; nouns aren’t associated with any gender, and once upon a time, the same third-person pronouns were applied across gender, such as qí 其, zhī 之 or more modernly, tā 他. As the world incorporates gender-neutral and gender-inclusive pronouns, such as “they/them” in English, Chinese homophiles and gender activists have also been advocating for more gender-friendly Chinese pronouns.

Online: Digital China

ByteDance Expands Footprint in New Consumption with Investment in Online Influencer: Douyin and Tiktok parent ByteDance has invested in one of China’s most globally popular vloggers Li Ziqi, to expand its footprint in the booming livestream and new consumption sectors, and also help expand the promotion of Chinese culture overseas. Through the deal, ByteDance plans to expand its core livestreaming business, targeting more industries and better integrating its investments into the company’s ecosystem.

Chinese Grocery Delivery Tycoon Shrugs Off Reduced IPO In US: Grocery delivery giant Dingdong Maicai slashed its IPO fundraising target by 74% just prior to its debut, with weak demand also dragging down competitor Miss Fresh’s recent listing. Dingdong has been a beneficiary of the lockdowns that prompted many Chinese consumers to order fresh produce online and have them delivered to their homes. Its average revenue per order reached ¥70 ($11) in the first quarter of 2020, but that figure has since dropped 23% to ¥54 ($8) in the first three months of this year as the restrictions were eased. Revenue grew almost three-fold from 2019.

Premium Food & Beverage

China: Consumer Awareness Reaches 90% for Plant-Based Protein: Awareness of plant-based protein has reached 90% among the general public accord to NPD Group research. Although it accounts for a small share relative to animal proteins, the retention rate for plant-based proteins rose from 53% in October 2020 to 68% in January 2021. Independent restaurants represent the over 70% of plant-based protein growth in China. China’s enormous under-40 population of 700 million is going to be the major driver behind alternative protein according to a report by Gira and IQC, with the primary concern being food safety.

Does Plant-Based Meat Have a Future in China?: During the 618 ecommerce festival plant-based meat brands flopped on Tmall. Zhiai Shenghuo’s flagship dumplings sold less than 200 items. Nestlé’s own plant-based meat brand reached mere thousands. Compared with plant-based dairy alternative Oatly, which sold over 20,000 units in the same period, the plant-based meat industry seems miniscule.

Mixed Signals Jumble Outlook for China’s Seafood Market: Singapore-based high-end seafood restaurant chain Jumbo Seafood announced its intention to open more restaurants in China, after posting a strong performance in mainland China in the first five months of 2021. Norway exported 11,544 Metric Tonnes (MT) of salmon to China through May, a volume growth of 20%, but its value grew just 15%. Fresh salmon accounted for 96% of salmon imports, compared to 77% in 2020. Retail volume increased from 12.5 million MT to 15.9 million MT, but foodservice saw large decreases from the 60% share of fish and seafood sales in 2019.

Overall Beauty

Just How Yummy is China’s Edible Beauty Boom?: In the relentless hunt for the new, China’s beauty industry is exploring the potential of concepts purloined from popular theories in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). This includes the idea that something consumed orally can nourish external appearance – a familiar and classic TCM theory. In the beauty sector, this is now described as the concept of “beauty and food from the same source”. The market is predicted to total ¥23.8 billion ($3.68 billion) by 2022.

Overseas Chinese Tourists

J Hotel Shanghai Tower: World’s Highest Hotel Opens in China: J Hotel launched in Shanghai last month claiming to be the highest hotel in the world. The hotel occupies the top floors of the Shanghai Tower – which at 632 meters (about 2,000 feet) is the tallest building in China. There’s 24/7 personal butler service, an indoor swimming pool, toiletries by Hermes and Diptyque, magnolia petal-shaped bathtubs, a luxe spa with a focus on Reiki treatments and full Chinese tea sets in every room. The least expensive room goes for ¥3,601 ($557) per night. The most expensive room type is the 380 square meter Shanghai Suite. Besides the bedroom, this suite includes a parlour, study, kitchen, physiotherapy area and a room just for getting dressed. Cost is unpublished.

Premium and Luxury

Louis Vuitton’s SS22 Broke Records With 130 Million Livestream Viewers: Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer 2022 runway show on 24 June broke records in China, with ’44 million viewers’ on Weibo and ’39 million live viewers’ on short video platform Kuaishou.