Mark Tanner
19 April 2022 0 Comments

This week’s news and trends in China:

Consumers,  Chinese Consumers

How Keeping Quiet About Politics Helped Uniqlo Become China’s Favourite Fashion Brand: Uniqlo secured 1.4% of China’s hugely fragmented $350 billion apparel market in 2021 — a larger share than any other single brand, and one that has grown from just 0.4% a decade ago.

Chinese Foreign Trade Rises 10.7% in Q1 2022: In the first quarter Chinese imports and exports of goods totalled ¥9.42 trillion ($1.48 trillion), up 10.7% from a year ago. Trade between China and Belt and Road nations grew 16.7%, while trade with Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) countries grew just 6.9%. Trade with the US was up 9.9%, South Korea up 12.3% and Japan 1.8%.

China Can Teach the West a Lesson on Inflation: China’s consumer price index in March rose 1.5% from a year earlier. It remains notably lower than the 8.5% in the US and 7% in the UK and high rates in other Western countries. The rate was 0.9% in January and February.

Shanghai Factories Sputter Towards Reopening as City Aims to Ease Lockdown: Beijing said last week it had drawn up a “white list” of 666 firms prioritised to reopen or keep Shanghai operations going. These include Tesla, Volkswagen and its Chinese partner SAIC Motor, as well as semiconductor and medical firms. To prepare for the restart, Tesla has recalled workers to its Shanghai plant where they will need to live on site, in line with China’s “closed loop management” process.

‘Voting with their Feet’: China’s Wealthy Look to Leave after Shanghai Lockdown: Emigration inquiries surge as harsh Covid restrictions cause food and medicine shortages. Searches for “immigration” on WeChat have jumped almost seven-fold since the beginning of April. Immigration consultants said clients who had postponed or cancelled plans to move over fears of contracting the virus or encountering hostility abroad had revived efforts to leave.

Online: Digital China

Douyin Tests New Layout to Stress Ecommerce, Downplay Social Features: Douyin is testing a new homepage layout that emphasizes the “Mall” function, placing the feature in the navigation bar at the bottom of the app’s homepage, replacing the former “Friends” button, which has moved to the top of the homepage as a tag. Users can view shopping items and place orders faster through this new portal. Douyin has also set up an internal ecommerce team for alcoholic beverages.

Premium Food & Beverage

China’s Lockdowns Boost Refrigerator Sales to Store Food: Worried over long lockdowns, Chinese consumers are increasingly investing in freezers to store food, fearing such measures to contain the spread of Covid could make it difficult to buy groceries. While refrigerator sales in Shanghai started to show “obvious” growth in the fourth week of March, freezer orders recorded a two-fold increase in the past week compared to the same period last year. Midea Group have sold 45% more refrigerators so far this month.

China Frozen Food Market Analysis & Forecast: China’s frozen food market is forecast to reach $52.1 billion in 2027. Over previous years, a broader demographic has drifted towards frozen food in China. Chinese consumers, specifically white collar workers, often prefer its convenience and differing offerings. The development of cold chain logistics is enabling frozen food companies to improve their offerings, quality and flavour. The market is forecast to expand with a CAGR of 11.9% from 2021 to 2027. Frozen fish/seafood holds the lion’s share, with online channels gaining increasing market share.

China’s Cheese Market: Is estimated to grow from ¥48.8 billion ($7.7b) in 2021 to ¥130.1 billion ($20.4b) by 2032. Chinese consumers do not like cheeses which have strong scents and tastes. They like processed cheese mainly used in hamburger and pizza making. The most preferred cheese “types” for children are ‘kiddy cheese’, ‘stick cheese’, and ‘small triangle cheese.’

For the Takeout-Hungry, Shanghai’s Lockdown is a Pressure Cooker: Some didn’t own pots and pans, while others indulged in online orders. Now they’re either learning to cook or just struggling. Here’s how some are doing it tough with the lockdown and food shortages.

Staying Health

One to Watch: China’s Cell and Gene Therapies Industry: After a wobbly start, the country’s cell and gene therapies (CGT) market has been boosted by an increasingly encouraging regulatory environment, improved R&D infrastructure, and influx of capital and talent. In recent years, the biopharma industry has contributed to around half of the registered CGT trials globally with some world-class breakthroughs.

Video & Entertainment

New Craze Sees Shanghai Residents Pay Amateur African Actors to Dance in Videos and Send Well Wishes to Others in Lockdown: Globalisation has taken another turn as Shanghainese are commissioning videos featuring foreigners — most of whom are African — sending messages in “poor Chinese.” The videos used to be for birthdays, but have been repurposed as morale-boosting messages and a way to vent their lockdown frustration. It costs dozens of yuan to make a video that lasts for around 30 seconds. The foreign actors will also sing or dance if the customers pay an extra fee of ¥100 to ¥200 ($15.70 to $31.40). The sudden demand from Shanghai has left video makers struggling to keep up; some are producing up to 200 videos a day to meet demand.

Chinese sport Sport

New Nike Store in Beijing Promises Personalised Shopping Experience: Earlier this year, Nike opened a new two-story, 2,800 square metre store in Beijing’s Sanlitun area. The store links up as a Nike membership club where members using the app can check out information on exclusive products and offline activities held in the store, such as yoga classes, salons for sports enthusiasts, and handicraft workshops. Sports experts and online celebrities will also be regularly invited to share their ideas on how to put together sports outfits and how to avoid sports injuries.