By Andy Rothman, Matthews International Capital Management
Statistics announced on Wednesday do much to challenge the view that sub-par Chinese consumer spending is to blame for the sluggish rebalancing of the world’s second largest economy away from an over-reliance on investment. For too long this opinion has obscured the crucial truth that China is actually host to the world’s best consumer story.
Real retail sales rose 10.7 per cent in June and 10.8 per cent in the first half of this year, compared to the year earlier period. The strong momentum of this spending springs from solid foundations, with real urban household disposable income rising 7.1 per cent, up from 6.5 per cent a year ago. Continue reading »
By Qu Hongbin, Co-Head of Asian Economic Research, HSBC
For many, China’s growth model, which has delivered average annual GDP growth of 10 per cent over the past three decades, simply looks wrong: a national savings rate of around 50 per cent is unheard of in a large, modern economy.
A typical diagnosis states that China invests too much and consumes too little. The prescription is “rebalancing” – moving the economy away from investment towards consumption-led growth. However, a consumption-led growth model has little in theory or evidence to support it. Continue reading »
By Tassos Stassopoulos, AllianceBernstein
Consumer dynamics in emerging markets are often misunderstood. Although the rise of the middle classes is a defining characteristic of a vibrant, developing economy, the working classes will be the real engines of consumer growth in developing countries.
In other words, the middle classes tell you what has happened. But looking ahead, the fastest growth will be driven by the masses of lower income workers as they improve their lot to join the ranks of the middle class. Continue reading »
A Chinese manufacturer and direct seller of health, cleaning and beauty products with Malaysian roots may not be the most obvious cross-border investor in the South African wine industry. But Guangdong-based Perfect China is selling volumes of classic wine with a French heritage produced in South Africa’s vineyards. It is one more sign of the potential for Asian investors with an innovative eye for Africa. Continue reading »
Ultra-luxury fireplaces and wood burning stoves may not sound like the obvious things to sell in China, which has little or no tradition of decorative heaters – and no wood to burn in them if it did. But if Starbucks can make itself almost a household name in a country that doesn’t like the taste of coffee, then anything is possible.
Chesney’s, the high end fireplace and stove brand which opens two large new showrooms this week in Shanghai and Beijing, is hoping that rich Chinese have all the famous-label bling they can handle, and are ready to move on to subtler ways to spend money. Continue reading »
Chinese growth needs to come more from consumption than investment. However, Chinese consumption patterns will be nothing like what we’ve seen in developed countries. According to Gordon Orr, Asia Chairman at McKinsey, China will turn the consumption patterns known in the west upside down. Continue reading »
China is increasingly flexing its legal muscles to protect consumers against everything from illegally fixed prices to, it seems, over-the-top product packaging.
Friday’s official Shanghai Daily reports a slap on the wrist for some cosmetic firms guilty of having “too much empty space in the packaging”. Continue reading »
Yum Brands may be the leading company in the Chinese fast food market with over 5700 outlets, but recently it has seen a sharp decline in sales in the country.
Although Yum has suffered from headline-grabbing food scares (bird flu and banned antibiotics), are there bigger structural shifts afoot in Chinese fast food? Chart of the week takes a look. Continue reading »
The rise in spending power of China’s 220m migrant workers is supporting the country’s economy as manufacturing stalls. James Kynge, principal of China Confidential, explains how a labour shortage is inflating wages and what this mighty consumer cohort is buying.
Ikea’s flagship store in Beijing is among the group’s most heavily trafficked in the world – with more than six million visitors in 2011. But how much time and effort does it take to translate those visits into sales?
It’s an important question given that the Swedish furniture giant has this week announced plans to boost the number of stores in China from 11 to 40 over the next seven years. Continue reading »
In China, saying sorry is a big deal. So it made national news on Tuesday when Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, issued a public apology to Chinese consumers for any “concerns or misunderstandings” they might have had due to poor communication over Apple’s warranty policies.
After a coordinated attack on Apple from state media and regulators during the past two weeks, it seems the US tech company had little choice but a public show of contrition. After all, China is the world’s largest smartphone market, and accounted for 16 per cent of Apple’s sales in 2012. Continue reading »
Death is big business in China at this time of year, as the annual Tomb Sweeping festival approaches, boosting demand for virtual iPads, iPhones and even mistresses offered up to entertain the deceased in the afterlife (or to console him, if his grave gets moved to make way for another golf course or superhighway). Continue reading »
If there is one thing that China’s smaller cities do not lack, it’s sportswear stores. The average fourth-, fifth- and sixth-tier Chinese city – everyone defines their tiers differently – has a high street with multiple Chinese sportswear retailers lined up in a row. Do these towns really need more running shoes?
Adidas certainly thinks so and its latest greater China sales – up 15 per cent in 2012 – seem to indicate that it’s right. The German sportswear brand, currently number two by sales behind Nike, has expanded into 350 more Chinese cities in the past 18 months, to 900 in total. Of the 800 stores opened last year, 400 were in lower-tier cities. The goal is to have 1,400 cities buying Adidas by 2015. Continue reading »
Every year, China stages the largest human migration on earth as up to 1bn people go home to their roots. The FT’s Patti Waldmeir reports on the phenomenal combined buying power of China’s 260m migrant workers and looks at the type of gifts they are buying this year.