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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.

nongcun

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
Follow on Twitter or Like on Facebook

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 editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Digital

WeChat’s New Emoji Are Here (Including a Watermelon-Eating and Doge One)

WeChat’s new emoji are based on popular memes.

Manya Koetse

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On January 14, Tencent’s Wechat introduced new emoji to its existing emoji set. The new emoji include, among others, a watermelon-eating emoji and a smiling Shiba Inu.

On Weibo, the new emoji have become a topic of discussion under the hashtags “WeChat’s New Emoji” (#微信上线新表情#), “WeChat’s Watermelon Eating Emoji” (#微信上线吃瓜表情#), and “WeChat’s Dog Emoji” (#微信上线狗头表情#).

Different from the Unicode emoji (see Emojipedia), WeChat and Weibo have their own sets of emoji, although there is overlap.

The reason why especially the watermelon-eating and dog emoji are being discussed on social media, is because these emoji are based on popular internet memes.

“Eating watermelon” (吃瓜 chī guā) is an online expression that comes from “watermelon-eating masses” (吃瓜群众 chī guā qúnzhòng), which describes a common mentality of Internet users who have no idea what is actually going on but are still commenting or following online stories for their enjoyment – perhaps comparable to the “popcorn memes” that are ubiquitous on Western social media platforms.

The smiling dog has been around since 2013 and is known as the doge meme, based on a photo of a Shiba inu. The meme was originally spread on social media platforms such as Reddit, but then also became hugely popular in China, where it became a symbol of sarcasm (also read this Abacus article on this topic).

Other new emoji are the “wow” emoji, and others to express “ok,” “add oil,” “emm,” “oh!”

There’s also a “shehui shehui” (社会社会, lit. “society society”) emoji, which also comes from online culture and is a way among friends to (self-mockingly) talk about being ‘gangsters,’ ‘brothers.’ or ‘scoundrels.’

As the new emoji are still in their testing phase, not all WeChat users can use the new emoji yet, so you might have to wait a bit before being able to try them out.

By Manya Koetse, with thanks to @caaatchina
Follow @whatsonweibo

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Backgrounder

‘Good Doctor’, Digital Hospitals: How Mobile Apps Are Alleviating China’s Healthcare Problems

With the rapid digitalization of China’s healthcare, Chinese patients now have more ways than one to receive medical assistance.

Manya Koetse

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China’s healthcare industry is facing some serious challenges. As Chinese society is rapidly digitalizing, mobile apps now provide innovative solutions to alleviate pressing problems in the country’s health services sector.

 
This is the “WE…WEI…WHAT?” column by Manya Koetse, originally published in German by Goethe Institut China on Goethe.de: “Good-Doctor Apps und Digitale Krankenhäuser.” 
 

Social Credit System, artificial intelligence, surveillance cameras; these are some of the hottest topics making headlines in mainstream Western media when discussing China-related developments recently.

With the rapid digitalization of Chinese society, these topics certainly have come to play a more important role in social media discussions within the People’s Republic of China (PRC). But if there is one issue that seems to concern Chinese social media users the most, it is not facial recognition nor their ‘Sesame score’: it is the topic of healthcare.

In December of 2017, a photo showing a crying mother kneeling down beside a toddler on the sidewalk in front of a Shanghai hospital went viral overnight. The moment was captured on camera by a reporter who was visiting Shanghai’s Children’s Hospital.

The photo of Guo Yinzhen and her son that went viral in China (image via NetEase, source: https://3g.163.com).

The mother, Guo Yinzhen, is a single parent who had traveled from a remote village to seek medical help for her 3-old-son, who was suffering from congenital hydrocephalus or ‘water on the brain.’ Already having traveled to the city multiple times and spending all her money on medical bills, Guo could not afford the additional 100.000 yuan (€ 12.600) for medical procedures needed to save her son’s life.

Guo’s story struck a chord with Chinese netizens, who continue to share the heartbreaking photo on social media to this day. It has become emblematic of China’s healthcare problems.

 

Crowded Hospitals and ‘Healthcare Disturbance’

 

The key to an adequate healthcare system, no matter where in the world, is that there is a right balancing in the “iron triangle” of efficiency/cost containment, high quality care, and patient access.[1] China, however, struggles with all three sides of this triangle.

Guo’s case is an extreme example, but many people in China dealing with less serious health issues and needing basic medical services also struggle to afford and access the healthcare they need.

Over 95% of people in China have health insurance, but people from different regions do not enjoy the same benefits and their out-of-pocket expenses can vary greatly. Uncovered medical costs can sometimes be catastrophic and simply unaffordable for patients and their families.

As more money flows are going to healthcare facilities in China’s cities, there is also the issue of varying levels of providers’ medical education and the overall healthcare quality, with the substantial majority of modern hospitals still existing in urban areas.

Easy access to the right kind of healthcare can be especially problematic for China’s rural population, as people often need to travel long distances and have to go through the lengthy process of registering and waiting for their doctor’s appointment, which sometimes requires them to stay in the city overnight.

For all of these reasons, China’s bigger public hospitals can get super crowded, sometimes resembling shopping malls on an end-of-season sales day. On social media, both patients and medical workers often complain about the stress brought about by the huge crowds and the shortage of doctors in hospitals across the country.

Perhaps it is no wonder that China even has a word to describe outbursts of violence between patients and doctors: ‘Yī nào’ (医闹, literally: “healthcare disturbance”).

Weibo user ‘Sunscreen’ complains about the crowds at Huashan Hospital.

One major problem within China’s healthcare conundrum is the lack of local family or primary-care doctors, which often makes bigger hospitals the first stop to any kind of medical treatment for Chinese patients.

The reasons for this issue are manifold. There is a general lack of trust in private and smaller local healthcare clinics, for example, and patients often choose to go directly to a bigger hospital to avoid making extra costs.

This makes it extra difficult for many community health care centers – that are already struggling – to make enough money and to retain qualified staff. In a society that is rapidly aging, the challenges facing China’s healthcare industry are only becoming more pressing.

 

A Doctor Today, Just an App Away

 

As China’s online environment is thriving, new innovative online apps are popping up on a daily basis. Some of these apps, that have found their ways into China’s most popular app rankings, are offering solutions to some of the country’s most pressing healthcare problems.

One of these apps is Ping’an Good Doctor (平安好医生), which was developed by health insurance provider Ping’an in 2015 and calls itself China’s “one-stop healthcare ecosystem.”

“Ping’an Good Doctor” promotional image by Ping’an.

Employing some 1000 medical staff in its in-house team, contracting over 5,200 external doctors, and collaborating with 3000 hospitals and thousands of pharmacy outlets across the country, the app is somewhat of an “online hospital.”

Through the app, users can look through an online database of medical professionals, order medicine at nearby pharmacies, get 24/7 online medical consultancy, search for information about both Western and Chinese Traditional Medicine, etc., but they can also use Ping’an Good Doctor as a fitness app to track their own health.

Screenshot of Ping’an app screen, by author.

When looking for a specific doctor for a one-on-one consult, the app first lets users select an area of expertise (e.g. dermatology or gynecology), and then offers a list of different specialists in various price categories.

Doctors from well-known hospitals, for example, or those with excellent ratings, have a one-time consultation fee of 100 yuan (€ 12,60). Other doctors can be consulted starting from 30 yuan (€3,70). All costs can be paid efficiently via online payment apps.

Doctors to pick from within the app’s various price categories.

Ping’an Good Doctor uses an AI-driven system to ask patients various questions about their symptoms and to automatically create a user’s medical record to save time. Based on the AI-generated record and the conversation with the patients – files such as photos can also be uploaded to the app -, the doctors can prescribe medicine or refer the patient to a hospital for an offline appointment if needed.

Ping’an recently announced that its number of registered users exceeded 300 million users, with 62 million monthly active users. Because the app keeps building on its AI-driven system, Ping’an Good Doctor can be expected to only become a ‘smarter’ smart health app the more popular it gets.

Although Ping’an is now leading within China’s medical app category, there are many other apps providing similar services, such as Chunyu Yisheng (春雨医生), Haodafu Online (好大夫在线), or DingXiang Doctor (丁香医生).

The emergence of these apps is just one of the many ways in which China’s digital developments, online media, and tech giants are impacting the healthcare industry, profoundly changing how patients receive healthcare information and access medical services now and in the future.

List of recommended medical apps in the Tencent app store.

In a way, China’s medical consultation apps fill the void in offline primary care. Patients who would otherwise turn to hospital care as their first stop can now  access medical consultations any time, any day, at a relatively low cost. Those who suffer from relatively harmless conditions could be diagnosed by a medical specialist via the app and get the medicine they need within a matter of minutes. With the growing popularity of these kinds of apps, many patients no longer need to visit a hospital at all.

Are smart health apps such as Ping’an Good Doctor the solution to China’s healthcare problems? No, they’re not. Struggling mums like Guo Yinzhen will not find the help they need there. But they do contribute to a more efficient healthcare environment where crowd flows in hospitals can be reduced, and patients do not need to spend a lot of time and money to stand in hour-long queues to get five minutes of their doctor’s time.

Although smart health apps could not help Guo Yinzhen and her son, social media apps could. As soon as their story went viral in late 2017, Shanghai Children’s Welfare Foundation Xiaoxingxin offered to cover medical treatments for the little boy, with a notable pediatric neurosurgeon operating the child. According to the latest updates, the boy’s situation was “looking good.”

Hopefully, the same holds true for the challenging sides of China’s healthcare industry.

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

[1] Burns & Liu, 2017: 3-4.

References/Linked Sources

Burns, Lawton Robert, and Gordon G. Liu. 2017. “Introduction.” In China’s Healthcare Industry: A System Perspective, Lawton Robert Burns and Gordon G. Liu (eds), pp-1-116. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Economist, 2017. “China needs many more primary-care doctors.” The Economist, May 11 https://www.economist.com/china/2017/05/11/china-needs-many-more-primary-care-doctors [20.10.19].

Zhou, Viola. 2018. “Does China Have Universal Healthcare? A Long (And Better) Answer.” Inkstone, Oct 10 https://www.inkstonenews.com/health/china-translated-does-china-have-universal-health-care/article/2167579

This text was first published by Goethe-Institut China under a CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0-DE license (Creative Commons) as part of a monthly column in collaboration with What’s On Weibo.

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