This week, we talk about trends in the travel industry, an unfortunate video may deal-break for a famous luxury brand, and the high demand for imported seafood in China.
Also, read what outraged not just Chinese social media but the global community last week, and how China becomes more and more unmanned.
In Chinese families, children play key roles in determining destination, experiences, and hotels. What else should you know about how affluent Chinese families make their holiday plans? Read Lu-Hai’s latest blog post.
Chinese high-end travelers prioritize personalized experience and problem-solving capacity. According to the Chinese Luxury Traveler 2018 report: Chinese travelers become bolder when it comes to choosing a travel destination, and value “the sense of local life and cuisine”. - Read the report summary (in English)
‘Pornographic’ content is not going away in China. Toutiao was penalized for having pornographic material on its platform, Douyin just closed over 50k accounts due to “vulgar content infringement”... although it isn’t clear what that means. An erotic novelist was just sentenced to ten years for selling ‘pornographic’ material. Terrible!
I’ve been using Chinese internet for 15 years now and there’s more sexual content than on regular English-language sites. In the English world, the redlight area of the web is separate. While the Chinese content isn’t literal porn, it’s everywhere and serves a similar purpose.
New algorithms bring sexy content to the top of newsfeeds. I recently reinstalled Baidu and it only took minutes before half the content was scantily clad women. I was using it to get a feel for the algorithm, so I started clicking on images of dogs only, but still, it fed me more women... The algorithms don’t only pick up clicks, they read other cues too, such as how long a user pauses while viewing a post.
As Jerry Seinfeld said: “Looking at cleavage is like looking at the sun. You don't stare at it. It's too risky. Ya get a sense of it and then you look away.” The algorithms seem to catch just that quick look, and put the sun right back in your face.
Why is this important for marketers? If you’re targeting Chinese males via social marketing, you’re competing with… human nature! That’s tough. Your posts better be really interesting and timely. And, I’m not precluding this effect for marketing to females either, although I’m guessing it’s less pronounced.
Olay’s online sales peak, however, lags behind offline. One of the first foreign brands to enter China in 1989, they seized 12% of the skin care product market by 2004 and became a top brand and established an image of “experts.” However, as competiton grew, their share declined to 4% by 2018. Interestingly: as general market share declines, their online presence strengthens- topping Tmall’s best-selling brands in 2018. - Read more (Chinese)
Olay’s biggest issue is that they lack control over offline prices thanks to their distributors and partners. Moreover, they lack well-planned strategy and haven’t differentiated enough to break through competition in offline stores. Online, however, they manage to maintain good communication with consumers and a steady price. Consumers also tend to trust online “flagship stores” not to sell counterfeit goods.
Chinese cities introduce harsh regulations on dog owners, resulting in a wave of violence across China. According to the new rules, dogs cannot be walked between 7am and 7pm; all dogs must be registered and some breeds were banned. It resulted in a large-scale clean-up of “non-compliant” dogs in Hangzhou, and disturbing social media coverage. - Read more (Chinese / English)
The regulation itself sparked controversy online, however, what’s the most sickening is the wave of violence. Some netizens even brought up the similarity between regulation -enforcing “chengguan” (public security officers) and the Red Guard - infamous for its cruelty during the Cultural Revolution.
Dolce&Gabbana cancels its first fashion show in Shanghai after its video receives huge backlash online. “DG Loves China” campaign was meant to be a tribute to the country and its consumers but didn’t go exactly as planned... The brand released three videos last week showing an Asian model fecklessly trying to eat Western food with chopsticks and a background voice asking “is it too big for you?”, and mocking Chinese pronunciation of the brand name.
The response online was immediate, netizens calling to boycott the brand (the tag got over 18k shares) on Chinese and Western social media. The video was called racist and derogatory to Chinese culture and women. “You don’t love nor understand China, you just want our RMB,” reads one of the comments. - Read more (Chinese / English)
Most of the Chinese influencers decided not to attend the fashion show in Shanghai. Moreover, shopping centers across China already started closing Dolce&Gabbana stores, and online e-commerce giants took all the products off their platforms.
Alibaba opens its first smart hotel in Hangzhou. “FlyZoo Hotel” is claimed to be a hotel of the future - unmanned and run by “black technology”. It was first opened to guests on Double Eleven at a 1,500 CNY/night. The regular price is 3,000 CNY/night (430 USD). - Read more (Chinese)
First face-payment supermarket is launched in Nanjing - the payments process is now supposed to take less than 10 seconds. All you have to do is enter your phone number and scan your face. Some are excited, but some worry about the safety of their transactions. There was a huge issue before with iPhone’s face recognition system that didn’t spot differences between two co-workers. There were also some comments online from girls who wonder if make-up can affect their payment abilities. - Read More (Chinese)
WeChat rolls out its own online investment service, a new competition for Alibaba’s beloved Yu’eBao. As Yu’eBao is one of the favourite feature of Alipay platform, Tencent probably hopes Lingqiantong (零钱通) that was launched last week can stir things up a bit. The two platforms keep fighting over Chinese users, rolling out more and more contemporary and smarter services. - Read more (Chinese). And as Chinese users don’t mind using both platforms simultaneously, they cannot really complain here.
The demand for imported seafood is growing in China, and it’s not considered luxury anymore as quality of life increases. Chinese consumers are becoming more aware of food safety, so they tend to choose imported products over domestic. Review sections on e-commerce platforms also show how important taste is for the consumers in China. - Read more (English)
Maternity and juvenile market warms up since the two-child policy started. Economic status of Millennial parents is much better than that of older generations, so there are other factors they looks at when it comes to baby shopping. They care more about quality and brand’s reputation than the price. Surprisingly, product packaging is not one of the most important factors for them. - Read more (Chinese)
Baidu expands its offline advertisement service. The company just invested over 2 billion CNY in Xinchao Media- incorporating it into its own Media Advertising Alliance. The investment will give Baidu access to tv and poster ads in 610,000 elevators in 98 cities across China. In other words: the company can now sell ads that reach over 200 million people, mainly in 3rd and 4th-tier cities. - Read more (Chinese)
WeChat mini-programs proves to be valuable for merchants in terms of driving new customers and data collection. According to the latest data released by Tencent, in the Double Eleven period (Nov 1 to 11), the number of mini-program DAU’s (daily active users) increased x7, sales transactions increased x22 compared to last year. The increase comes from the fact that mini-programs have actually become more popular this year. However, they are easier to start with, help keep users in one place, control data and open new promotional possibilities. - Read more (Chinese)