It is a good time to reflect on Singles Day, a shopping carnival initiated by Alibaba that has just yielded a record-breaking sales of $17.8 billion, exceeding that on “Black Friday” in the US. It looks like everyone benefits: vendors sell, buyers get cheap goods and Alibaba profits through advertising fees and transaction commissions. But consider: to sell more, vendors lower product prices and sacrifice per-unit margins, yet they might not be able to make up on volume, as most of the items purchased are durable goods and therefore most of the increased sales on Singles Day are probably shifting sales from earlier or later periods.
China’s large and still growing population, accompanied by rising household wealth and rapid increases in healthcare spending, has transformed China into the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical market. In 2015, overall pharmaceutical sales in mainland China totaled more than $115 billion, placing China behind only the United States ($330 billion). With a population of over 1.3 billion, the sheer size of the market all but guarantees that the Chinese market will continue to grow despite the problems faced by the healthcare system. “Healthcare is the one market where the market size equals the population,” says Kent Kedl.
Each year Alibaba breaks a new record on Singles Day, the 24-hour online shopping extravaganza has now become a celebratory annual event. The rise of online ecommerce has transformed the way Chinese people shop. According to 2015 e-commerce stats, 46% of Chinese people buy groceries online, 30% people made impulse buys, and $ 333 billion purchase were conducted on mobile devices. The online shopping phenomenon, on one hand, is hurting retail, on the other is fostering a multi-billion dollar express delivery business. With 8,000 express companies national wide, China’s express delivery market was worth $ 42.1 billion in 2015.
In the past two decades, coffee has been making significant in-roads in China. Although it might not be a staple for workday breakfast yet, for young people in urban areas, it has become a status symbol and something that says about their style and taste. Coffee, says Esteban Liang, Managing Director of Costa, Asia, is an “affordable luxury.” In the interview with Liang, he discusses how coffee became so popular and what Costa Coffee has experienced in the Middle Kingdom so far. Attempting to ride the middle-class wave, Costa aims at becoming a “strong number two” in China with better environment, product and service.
Imagine when you walk in a shopping mall, a mobile advertisement pops up on your phone, giving you a coupon on exactly what you planned to buy. Or speaking to your friend about an interesting ad you saw on Facebook then discovering, to your surprise, that your friend is also interested in buying that exact product—that’s the beauty of well-designed marketing, thanks to big data. Professor Ghose at Stern Business School analyzes what consumers do with their smartphones and how businesses can tailor effective offers that occur at the optimal time, while also ensuring that information exchange is a healthy two-way street.
The emerging middle class is the starting point for many discussions on China’s economy and society. But who are these people that, as Professor Luigi Tomba puts it, are “going to be at the epicenter of every social change that is going to happen” in China? And more importantly, where do they come from? The terms applied to them are misleading. Locally they are something of an economic elite, and even so have not reached the wealth of their supposed Western counterparts – in other words, they are not the “middle” of anything. They are also far from uniform.
As a seller, you may often encounter a situation like this: your customers gather and discuss the product they want to buy and one day they come to you and form a group, bargaining. As a result, you have to offer them discounts and other benefits. Harvard economist Michael Porter formalized this idea, called “buyer power,” in 1979. “Buyer power” is separate from the competition that you face and you should be careful to distinguish the two. Even if you face little competition, if your buyers are powerful then you are in trouble. Read our article to find out a solution.
China’s apparel market is now one of the fastest growing markets in the world. Euromonitor statistics show many foreign brands doing well: Uniqlo currently holds 1.6% of the market for specialist apparel; and Danish company Bestseller Fashion Group China, which operates brands like Only, Jack & Jones and Vero Moda, is holding 2.3% of the market share. Where are the local apparel brands? VANCL, a Chinese ecommerce clothes retailer, is almost a forgotten name. It used to have a 4.5% market share in 2011, but its dream of IPO lie in ashes—how did the once mighty retailer become China’s diaosi (loser) brand?
Chinese consumers have changed faster than consumers in probably any other market. Increasing exposure to international media and social media is changing the expectations of Chinese consumers. On top of that, the broad economic slowdown and brand saturation in China has ratcheted up competition to new levels as the days of easy money disappear. For both multinationals and Chinese companies, the changing market dynamics present challenges they have never seen before. In this interview, Torben Pheiffer, Managing Director of SapientNitro, China, explains how companies need to adapt their branding strategies.
In recent years, globalization has lifted billions of people out of poverty and created vast wealth, but has also spawned hyper-competitive markets that make a secure niche ever more difficult to find. Everyone from cabbies to multinational businesses find it’s harder and harder to maintain an edge. Meanwhile, in the world’s younger economies, particularly China, companies face another challenge: unlike Westerners who grew up loyal to particular brands, Chinese consumers did not have that; and as markets consolidate, consumers are selecting a few favorites. So how should companies deal with these new trends?