The Marketing, Online & Research Agency for China

China's Ecommerce Global Expansion



Costco in China on Tmall

Few segments represent the dizzying rise of China and its unique characteristics like eCommerce. In addition to breathtaking growth rates, online shopping is fundamentally altering consumer behaviour across both online and offline channels, from product research to purchasing.

Last week's announcement that America's second largest retailer, Costco, is launching in China just on Tmall further emphasises this. Whereas Costco is predominantly a physical big-box retailer in its traditional markets, it realises that China needs a different approach. The high cost of real estate, low car ownership, HR challenges and the popularity of online shopping in China has seen many large-format Western retailers from Home Depot to Media Markt fail.

Are Chinese Consumers Paying Lip Service to the Environment?



Chinese consumers influence pollution

WeChat's global ambassador, Lionel Messi, was in Beijing last week for the all star football clash between Argentina and Brazil. What should have been a celebration of the beautiful game, turned out to be a demonstration of China's abominable pollution. 

As PM2.5 levels soared as high as 499 on Thursday - 20 times the WHO recommended safe levels - during practice Messi frequently covered his nose and mouth, had to stop for plenty of rests and ended up leaving early.  Brazil's team left the sanctuary of their hotel for just 2-hours to train over a 24-hour period.   The toxic air also filled the lungs of some of the world's top riders in town for Tour of Beijing, and pop diva Mariah Carey at her outdoor concert at Worker's Stadium.

Another Tourist Storm on China's Golden Week



China's Golden Week

Welcome back for those who were away for the Golden Week, we hope you had a good break.  For many Chinese, this year's national holiday mirrored last year's tourist apocalypse, on an even grander scale.  480 million Chinese were estimated to travel between October 1 and 7.  That's a cool 13% more than in 2013, growing almost twice as fast as GDP and reflecting Chinese consumers' increasing affluence and their preference to spend it on experiences such as travel.

The Impact of China's Media Corruption on Consumer Behaviour



Chinese media

China's state press agency Xinhua has shut down the website of the respected business newspaper 21st Century Business Herald, and terminated a ¥3.5 million ($590,000) contract between the agency and the Bank of Communications, after it was exposed for receiving payouts for publishing good news and concealing bad press. It follows other high profile state media corruption cases this year, such as the senior CCTV employees involved in bribery and corruption.

Chinese Innovation in Retail and Technology



Chinese Shopping

After a strong start, bringing the world the compass, gunpowder, paper, printing, loo paper and arguably football, many would liken China's recent innovation scene to the Gobi Desert.  But scratching the surface a little provides a glimpse of the types of innovations we can expect to see coming from the Mainland over the next few decades, particularly in the consumer tech segment.

Ironically, it's China's ability to copy technology and reproduce it cheaply that is assisting with this innovation.  The art of reverse-engineering hardware and software is creating an army of engineers with an intricate understanding of technology.  It's also brought down the cost of a fully-featured smartphone to well under $100 - within the realm of almost every Chinese consumer.

Apple's Strong Position to Compete in China Where Other Foreign Brands Cannot



Apple iPhone 6 China

Yesterday: 9/9, marked the much-anticipated launch event for the iPhone 6.  As the world's largest smartphone market, Apple is hoping its new phones will attract a healthy share of the expected 420 million smartphone purchases in China this year.

Apple has weathered the roller coaster ride of the China market better than some of its international competitors, but there have been some bumps along the way. Back in 2012, following accusations from state media about being arrogant and offering poor after-sales service, Apple's market share slid from 9% to 5%. Apple has worked hard to win back share, such as supporting China Mobile's proprietary network and responding smarter to criticism from the state.  But it knows it that can never rest on its laurels.

Localising For China - Not Always What You Think



Localising Chinese Food & Beverage

As Chinese consumers are becoming more sophisticated, so are their diets.  Increasing awareness of healthy living and food safety issues, coupled with rising affluence is making Chinese more particular about what they eat.  

Food and beverage imports are expected to grow 15% a year to $80 billion by 2018. Yet Chinese still have many different flavour preferences to the consumers in countries these imports are coming from.

A look at the most popular Western food and beverage brands in China is case in point.  Red Bean Green Tea Frappuccino isn't exactly a top seller in Starbucks stores in Seattle, and red date-flavoured crackers from Oreo's Mondalez probably wouldn't go down well in Oklahoma. Many of the big Western companies such as Nestle and Pepsi Co have set up research centres in the Mainland to develop products that appeal to Chinese palettes.

Where to Host Your Chinese Website



Chinese web site

Many websites hosted outside of China are experiencing increasing traffic coming from the Mainland. Although these sites can be optimised for Chinese visitors by providing translations, localised content and familiar payment options, they will only ever win a tiny share of China's rising consumers' spending.

Sites hosted outside of the Mainland load noticeably slower for Chinese surfers. They are less likely to rank well on search engines such as Baidu and Qihoo, and are generally less trusted than sites hosted in Mainland China. Just 3% of China's Internet traffic goes beyond the Great Firewall, and most of it is to the big American dotcoms.

Businesses Who Do Well in China, Even Without Being in the Government's Good Books



Volkswagen China

The Chinese Government have a dream, and businesses that align with that dream are well placed to prosper. 

For a prospering business, we only need to look to online shopping and specifically Alibaba.  eCommerce is one of the key pillars of China's 12th Five Year Plan, aiding China's transition from an investment-led to a consumption-led economy.  But the Government's support spans deeper than that.  Beijing's official line on its much-publicised "Chinese Dream" is first and foremost about national "rejuvenation" (民族的伟大复兴) and the development of a "comprehensive national power" (综合国力的发展). Nothing represents a strong and rejuvenated China more than its ecommerce sector. 

China's Fashion Industry Trends That Apply Across Many Products



Chinese fashion

Few industries are a barometer for what consumers consider to be "cool" quite like the fashion industry.  Over the past 12-18 months, some interesting fashion trends have been occurring in China that are worth taking note of.

It wasn't long ago when foreign brands had a 'monopoly' on high-end fashion. In October 2012, research from the World Luxury Association found that 86% of Chinese consumers refused to buy luxury products "Made in China" due to the country's reputation for cheap goods.

Enter popular role models such as China's First Lady Peng Liyuan, who wear nothing but Chinese fashion, and that perception has swiftly changed. Mintel research in March this year found 40% of Chinese believe local luxury clothing and shoes provide the same quality. 

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