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Top 5 Chinese Online Consumer Trends After Single’s Day Sales

The world’s biggest online sale of the year, China’s Single’s Day, took place on November 11. What’s on Weibo gives an overview of the latest trends and biggest brands, showing how China’s middle-class online consumer habits are undergoing drastic changes.

Manya Koetse

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The world’s biggest online sale of the year, China’s Single’s Day, took place on November 11. Some Chinese consumer trends have become especially visible after the big sales. What’s on Weibo gives an overview of the latest trends and biggest brands, showing how China’s middle-class online consumer habits are undergoing drastic changes. [Premium Content by What’s on Weibo].

China’s 11/11 Single’s Day, the world’s biggest online shopping event of the year, has once again exceeded the sale figures of previous years.

The 8th edition of China’s Online Single’s Day Shopping Festival, that was initiated by e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2009, broke all previous sales records with a 24-hour sales volume of $17.6 billion (120.7 billion RMB) on Alibaba’s Tmall (天猫) on November 11. Online shopping mall JD.com also had 60% more sales than the previous year.

With so much success, many e-commerce platforms have extended the shopping festival until November 18. Time to see which Chinese online consumer trends are especially apparent during this year’s Single Day’s sales.

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1. Smartphone & Tablets: Made-in-China Wins

Together with fashion and health and beauty products, electronics are among the top-selling products of China’s biggest annual online sale. This year’s Single’s Day has shown that the iPhone7 is still very popular among Chinese consumers, despite the subdued reactions in China to its release in September.

The Gome e-commerce chain (国美在线) revealed that the iPhone7, which was priced at 4888 RMB (±719 US$), was the store’s number one best-seller of November 11. Gome sold 22000 devices within 24 hours.

Despite the surge in iPhone sales, made-in-China smartphones were the undeniable winner of the Single’s Day smartphone sales. Overall, netizens bought more Chinese smartphone brands than international ones. According to the Single’s Day sales numbers of JD.com, no less than 8 of the top 10 best-selling smartphones were domestically produced mobile phones. China’s Huawei and Xiaomi brands did especially well on Alibaba’s Tmall.

huawei

The surge in sales of Chinese smartphones is also promising for the international market: Huawei aims to become the world’s second-largest maker of smartphones within two years.

The growth of Chinese brand popularity is not just noticeable on the smartphone market – Chinese brands are also winning over tablet buyers. Apple is no longer the only big player on the Chinese tablet market, with brands such as Lenovo and Huawei seeing considerable growth in tablet sales.

2. Good for the Baby 

Of the non-electronic products, it is especially baby products that did well on China’s Single’s Day. Anything from milk powder to baby wipes or diapers were popular during the 11/11 sales. Vastly different from the electronic market, it is especially foreign brands such as Friso (Friesland Campina, Dutch) and Moony (Japanese) that are most popular among Chinese consumers.

As China’s consumer trust in made-in-China baby brands has been damaged through various safety scandals over previous years, foreign brands are leading the market.

What is remarkable about this year’s sales, as revealed by China’s e-commerce platform Beibei (贝贝网, focused on maternal and infant products) is that the children’s clothing market is more booming than ever. Together with the surge in other baby- and mother-related products, the shift to bigger sales of these non-traditional products shows that China’s ‘Mummy Economy’ (妈妈经济) is becoming more relevant.

mummaexonomy

According to Beibei, there are over 50 million Chinese mothers registered as e-commerce users on their platform. Their data shows that there are different consumer trends within this group in China.

Mothers from the northeast of China, for example, will buy more baby’s clothes and shoes, as it gets colder in those regions than the more southern parts of China. The mothers in the Yangtze River Delta area (Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang) are known to buy many baby snacks and foodstuff. In the south of China, nearer to Hong Kong, consumers mainly buy baby necessities such as diapers and baby wipes.

3. Fashion: Individual Style over Traditional Brands

Despite the popularity of electronics and baby products, clothing and lifestyle goods are still the number one best-selling products in China’s online sales. According to sales numbers released by JD.com, 40% of all their 11/11 sales were in the apparel & lifestyle category.

Noteworthy non-Chinese brand names are Lee, TUMI and Guess, which respectively sold 43 times, 20 times, and 70 times more clothes this year than in previous years.

Although traditional international luxury brands such as Burberry and MaxMara remain popular, new sales data shows that Chinese consumers now, for the first time, pursue more non-mainstream brands for their style than the established luxury brands.

A good example is the growing popularity of the Canadian apparel brand Canada Goose, which completely sold out on Chinese fashion e-commerce site Xiu.com (走秀网) on November 11. The brand is known for its warm and stylish outerwear. Another non-mainstream popular brand is the Italian designer clothes & accessories label Mr & Mrs Italy, which was only recently introduced on fashion platform Xiu.com and became hot selling on 11/11.

canadagoose

Other upcoming trendy brands such as the Scandinavian Acne Studios and & Other Stories (by the same fashion heads as H&M) were also surprising best-selling names that are all about style.

Acne Studios: style over brand.

With Chinese middle-class consumers now gradually attaching more importance to style, originality, and quality of a label than its fame, somewhat more low-key designer brands like Brunello Cucinelli or Loro Piana are starting to replace classic Louis Vuitton or Burberry brands.

According to Xiu.com representatives, these new developments show that China’s middle-class consumer habits are now undergoing dramatic changes. People are no longer pursuing a bag only because it has an LV logo – they want a bag that suits their own style and needs.

4. China’s New Online Consumers: The Rise of Smaller Towns

Although first- and second-tier cities are still the most important consumer markets for online e-commerce platforms, this year’s sales data point out that consumers in third-tier cities and provincial level towns are becoming an important target group.

E-commerce giant JD.com saw a substantial growth in orders from prefectural cities and smaller towns from provinces such as Guizhou, Jiangxi, Hubei, Henan, and Yunnan.

In 2011, “the rise of China’s 2nd and 3rd tier cities” was a hot topic in the media. Five years later, this trend has shifted to China’s rural areas, where the new consumers are located.

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Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that 77.14 million rural Chinese shopped online in 2015, which was already a 40.6 percent increase from 2014. On average, rural Chinese spend more online than their urban counterparts, and their online spending is growing faster.

According to Economics Daily, drastic increases in sales to consumers from smaller towns and villages shows the improving living standards in these areas. High-end products like refrigerators and air-conditionings are among their top-selling products for this consumer group.

The rise of China’s more third-tier and rural consumers is closely connected to China’s booming and readily available e-commerce, that has made rural consumer demand strong. With China’s online population now exceeding 700 million people, China’s rural netizens are growing steadily – that new tablet or heater is now just a few clicks away.

5. The Power of the Post-1990s Generation

The sales data from this year’s Single’s Day as provided by the Gome (国美) e-commerce platform have pointed out that the majority of orders (which had a staggering growth of 268% compared to last year) were placed by consumers below the age of 40. Of all online customers on Single’s Day, 85% were below the age of 40.

Within this group, 47% of people are of the 16-29 age category and 34% aged between 30-39. Young women are more active online consumers than the men; 67% of all purchases were done by women.

post90s

The Gome data shows the power of the post-1990s consumer. People of the generation born after 1990, often referred to as the ‘Post 90s’ or ‘jiulinghou‘ (九零后) are also called “marketers’ dream consumers” for their impulsiveness in buying goods, and their general pursuit of products that improve their happiness; they are the ultimate consumers, much more willing to spend money than the generations before them.

With a new young generation of eager online consumers, the rise of rural e-shoppers and a thriving ‘mummy economy’, China’s e-commerce companies having something to look forward to for their next year’s Single’s Day. The biggest online shopping event in the world is only about to get bigger.

– By Manya Koetse
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Sources:
Part of this article on based on the 14 November article by Zhao Chenting (赵陈婷) originally published on http://www.yicai.com/..
Other sources are linked to within the article.

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Brands & Marketing

About Lipstick King’s Comeback and His ‘Mysterious’ Disappearance

After Li Jiaqi’s return to livestreaming, the ‘tank cake incident’ has become the elephant in the room on social media.

Manya Koetse

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Earlier this week, the return of China’s famous livestreamer Li Jiaqi, also known as the ‘Lipstick King’, became a hot topic on Chinese social media where his three-month ‘disappearance’ from the social commerce scene triggered online discussions.

He is known as Austin Li, Lipstick King, or Lipstick Brother, but most of all he is known as one of China’s most successful e-commerce livestreaming hosts.

After being offline for over 100 days, Li Jiaqi (李佳琦) finally came back and did a livestreaming session on September 20th, attracting over 60 million viewers and selling over $17 million in products.

The 30-year-old beauty influencer, a former L’Oreal beauty consultant, rose to fame in 2017 after he became a successful livestreamer focusing on lipstick and other beauty products.

Li broke several records during his live streaming career. In 2018, he broke the Guinness World Record for “the most lipstick applications in 30 seconds.” He once sold 15000 lipsticks in 5 minutes, and also managed to apply 380 different lipsticks in another seven-hour live stream session. Li made international headlines in 2021 when he sold $1.9 billion in goods during a 12-hour-long promotion livestream for Alibaba’s shopping festival.

But during a Taobao livestream on June 3rd of this year, something peculiar happened. After Li Jiaqi and his co-host introduced an interestingly shaped chocolate cake – which seemed to resemble a tank, – a male assistant in the back mentioned something about the sound of shooting coming from a tank (“坦克突突”).

Although Li Jiaqi and the others laughed about the comment, Li also seemed a bit unsure and the woman next to him then said: “Stay tuned for 23:00 to see if Li Jiaqi and I will still be in this position.”

The session then suddenly stopped, and at 23:38 that night Li wrote on Weibo that the channel was experiencing some “technical problems.”

But those “technical problems” lasted, and Li did not come back. His June 3rd post about the technical problems would be the last one on his Weibo account for the months to come.

The ‘cake tank incident’ (坦克蛋糕事件) occurred on the night before June 4, the 33rd anniversary of the violent crackdown of the Tiananmen student demonstrations. The iconic image of the so-called ‘tank man‘ blocking the tanks at Tiananmen has become world famous and is censored on China’s internet. The control of information flows is especially strict before and on June 4, making Li’s ‘tank cake incident’ all the more controversial.

But no official media nor the official Li Jiaqi accounts acknowledged the tank cake incident, and his absence remained unexplained. Meanwhile, there was a silent acknowledgment among netizens that the reason Li was not coming online anymore was related to the ‘tank cake incident.’

During Li’s long hiatus, fans flocked to his Weibo page where they left thousands of messages.

“I’m afraid people have been plotting against you,” many commenters wrote, suggesting that the cake was deliberately introduced by someone else during the livestream as a way to commemorate June 4.

Many fans also expressed their appreciation of Li, saying how watching his streams helped them cope with depression or cheered them up during hard times. “What would we do without you?” some wrote. Even after 80 days without Li Jiaqi’s livestreams, people still commented: “I am waiting for you every day.”

On September 21st, Li Jiaqi finally – and somewhat quietly – returned and some people said they were moved to see their lipstick hero return to the livestream scene.

Although many were overjoyed with Li’s return, it also triggered more conversations on why he had disappeared and what happened to him during the 3+ months of absence. “He talked about a sensitive topic,” one commenter said when a Weibo user asked about Li’s disappearance.

One self-media accountpublished a video titled “Li Jiaqi has returned.” The voiceover repeatedly asks why Li would have disappeared and even speculates about what might have caused it, without once mentioning the tank cake.

“This cracks me up,” one commenter wrote: “On the outside we all know what’s going on, on the inside there’s no information whatsoever.”

“It’s tacit mutual understanding,” some wrote. “It’s the elephant in the room,” others said.

Some people, however, did not care about discussing Li’s disappearance at all anymore and just expressed joy about seeing him again: “It’s like seeing a good friend after being apart for a long time.”

By Manya Koetse 

Elements in the featured image by @karishea and @kaffeebart.

 

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China and Covid19

Happiest Lockdown in China: Guests Undergo Mandatory Quarantine at Shanghai Disneyland Hotel

“I wish I could be quarantined at Disney too!” The Shanghai Disney hotel apparently is the happiest place to get locked in.

Manya Koetse

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While many cities across China are experiencing new (partial) lockdowns and millions of people are confined to their homes, there was also a group of people that had to undergo mandatory quarantine at a very special place: the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel.

On September 7, social media posts started surfacing online from people who said they were required to quarantine while they were at the Shanghai Disneyland hotel. Disneyland reportedly had received a notification from the local health authorities that a visitor who previously stayed at the Disneyland hotel was found to be a close contact of a newly confirmed Covid case.

In line with the Center for Disease Control requirements, Disney created a ‘closed loop system’ by locking in all hotel residents and staff members and doing daily Covid tests. While the Disneyland theme park was open as usual, the hotel became a temporary isolation site where people’s health would be monitored for the next few days while all staff members would also be screened.

During their mandatory quarantine, guests stayed at the hotel for free and did not need to pay for their rooms. Room prices at the Shanghai Disneyland hotel start at around 3000 yuan/night ($433).

Some guests shared photos of their Disneyland quarantine stay on social media, showing how Disney staff provided them with free breakfast, lunch, a surprise afternoon tea, delicious dinner, fun snacks, and Disney toys and stickers.

On the Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu) app, one Shanghai Disney visitor (nickname @恶霸小提莫) wrote: “We have three meals a day, there is both Chinese and Western-style breakfast, we also get afternoon tea and desserts, they have shrimp, beef, scallops, drinks, French macarons, yogurt, ice cream, and much more. We watched so many Disney movies for free. We are given so many little gifts, they brought us gifts twice today as they also brought us toy figures at night. We watch the fireworks from our windows every night at 8.30 pm. Although we weren’t allowed to go out, we really had a pleasant stay.”

Another Disney guest named Zoea (Xiaohongshu ID: yiya0313) also shared many photos of the mandatory quarantine and wrote: “When the staff knocked on the door to tell me they were bringing dinner, I even wondered how it was possible that they brought food again. Afternoon tea during quarantine, can you believe it? And fruit before dinner? And midnight snacks brought to us after dinner? And it was so nice to watch all the Disney movies on tv. Disney really is the most magical place.”

“I’m just so happy,” another locked-in Disney guest posted on social media, sharing pictures of Mickey Mouse cakes.

Other guests also posted about their experiences on social media. “They probably feared we would get bored so they brought us glue, stickers, and painting brushes, the kids loved it and so did we!”

Reading about the happy quarantine at Disney, many Weibo users responded that they envied the guests, writing: “I wish I could be quarantined at Disney too.”

“I need to find a way to get in, too,” others wrote.

Earlier this year, one Chinese woman shared her story of being quarantined inside a hotpot restaurant for three days. Although many people also envied the woman, who could eat all she wanted during her stay, she later said she felt like she had enough hotpot for the rest of her life.

By Manya Koetse 

 

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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