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.
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.
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?
In today’s busy workplaces people have bigger departments, more turnover, and operate in an environment of continuous change, which means that management has less time to get to know you and your capabilities. If you want to get ahead, coaches and other talent management experts say, you can’t wait for your boss to nurture you. Instead, you need to invest more time both developing your own capabilities and making sure decision-makers appreciate your talents and see your potential. How do you build your career and ensure you get the chances you deserve?
These days, corporate value is based not only on what you sell, but who you are: in a 2016 global study by Edelman, 48% of consumers said they won’t buy from a company they distrust but 37% said they will pay more for a product from a company they do trust. Unfortunately, becoming one of these admired companies is not easy. A great reputation doesn’t just appear by magic simply by behaving honorably and doing good work. So what facets are needed to build a respected corporate identity?
Between rapid technological change and global competition, it’s becoming harder for anyone selling a product or service to maintain a competitive edge–especially when that product is more or less the same as everyone else’s. But companies with products caught in this trap have more options than they realize. Even if you can’t win by being the cheapest or the best, you don’t need to simply resign yourself to commodity status. Creating a consumer brand for the industrial commodity, branding the product in a way that makes it familiar to the users, and sometime even raising price can be a positive differentiator.
Just how much time and energy would you spend pondering over which dustbin to buy next? Chances are, not a lot. But for some consumers in China, even seemingly mundane things like trashcans have started to become significant from a social status point of view. More and more Chinese consumers are shifting their consumption of even routine everyday things to more premium categories. They are often influenced by their own experiences or those of their peers, travels abroad, foreign movies or social media. But increasingly now there are a whole host of services that are geared towards exposing Chinese people to newer things—and making them buy.
When you think of sports brands, there’s pretty much a 50% chance that it’s Adidas that comes to mind. This, after all, is the company that has provided the match ball for the FIFA World Cups, whose final is the most watched sporting event in the world, since 1970. But for all that, success in China hasn’t been a given, and at the turn of the decade Adidas found itself languishing in fourth place behind the likes of Nike and Li-Ning.
Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo has quickly found huge popularity in China based on an ethos of high quality at affordable prices. It has been steadily building its presence in China over the last decade, and now has ambitious plans to accelerate its growth, most notably through a bold expansion in its number of shops. That might seem sensible given its growing popularity—revenue soared by 21% between August 2014 and 2015 across Uniqlo globally, largely driven by an increase in Greater China revenues of 46% and operating profit of 66%. But is it now at risk of over-reaching itself, particularly given the slowing Chinese economy?
An underdog in an industry dominated by giants, sportswear brand Under Armour recently pulled off a growth miracle by increasing its quarterly revenues more than 20% in 21 consecutive quarters. The 19-year-old Baltimore, MD-based company surpassed its German competitor Adidas last year in sales in the US, only trailing Nike in the world’s largest sportswear market. And now Under Armour trying to replicate its success in global markets, especially China. What does it have going for it in the world’s second-largest consumer market?