The Week in China: Transportation PSAs, Luxury Watch Auctions, Gum for Menopause and more

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China is the second largest economy in the world and every significant brand’s future is impacted by its growth (or collapse)—but who’s got the time?! Here’s the week’s reads that will make you look like a keen China observer in case you find yourself immersed in a cultural conversation.

This week: China is the world’s new auto culture lover… brand flagships go big or go home… the “diaosi” dollar… Sony localizes… Oreo dates around… Jeep recall isn’t what you think… taxing e-commerce… Lin Chi Ling for ice cream… Hennessy’s new chateau… iWatch trademark troubles… Siri in court… and more.[more]

Take a Walk, Not a Car

“My private car… is to go on foot. It’s Healthy. It’s Lower Emissions.”

So reads posters now appearing all over Shanghai (above). The campaign aims to reduce the amount of driving Chinese car owners are doing, a fast increasing behavior that is contributing to both record pollution levels and truly outstanding, epic traffic jams.

Clearly a few PSAs won’t be enough so—since Chinese drivers refuse to buy electric vehicles—the government is going to force some hands. In a June 30 statement, Beijing’s Municipal Commission of Transport floated the possibility of instituting carpool rules by the end of 2013. Beijing already has driving restrictions based on license plates. Down south meanwhile, Shenzhen and Hong Kong are looking into incentives to boost electric vehicle use by taxi companies. Chinese EV automaker BYD’s shares jumped at the news.

These new campaigns come as the world adjusts to a new auto center of gravity in China. Last week, The New York Times contemplated the end of car culture in the US, asking, “Has America passed peak driving?” Maybe. China hasn’t even begun though; Ford’s China sales were up 48 percent in the first five months of 2013 and the automaker is just getting started.

Go Biggest or Go Home

In 1992, Beijing became home to a 700-seat McDonald’s, the largest on earth. Two decades later and it seems every brand’s largest outlet will be in China.

The world’s largest Louis Vuitton store is in Shanghai. That city is also home to the largest Sephora store. The world’s largest Uniqlo store is coming to Shanghai later this year. The store will anchor the 1,000 stores the brand plans to have in China by 2020. Before it closed in January, the metropolis was also home to Nokia’s largest store. Now reports have it that luxury watchmaker Breguet will open a 598-square-meter monster in Shanghai.

The Winshang report notes that Burberry and Matzo paris will also open “biggest” stores in Beijing. Those behemoths will be in good company as Beijing is also home to the world’s largest flagship stores for Adidas, Paul Smith, and American Apparel. The world’s second largest Ikea store is also in Beijing with the largest in, naturally, Skärholmen.

And yet, Chinese shoppers increasingly buy online. According to McKinsey, e-commerce revenue hit $210 billion last year with estimates that by the end of the decade it could balloon to anywhere from $420 billion to $650 billion. Luxury products, due to their expense in China, are also increasingly bought overseas. So why the huge stores? Simple: showrooming.

Breguet May Want to Rethink that Flagship

Luxury watch brands have become a primary target of Beijing’s austerity drive as well as symbols of graft focused on by China’s social media. Two recent cases have proven the trend. After an accident last year, an official surveying the damage was sacked after eagle eyed Weiboers identified the pricy timepiece on the wrist of the man who would come to be known as “Watch Brother.” Then, months later, an official surveying the earthquake damage in Sichuan was observed to have a stark wristwatch tan line, apparently having learned a lesson from colleague ‘Watch Brother.’

Where did that official’s missing timepiece end up? Maybe at one of the growing luxury watch auctions where even recent model high-end pieces are going for discounts of up to 70 percent.

More China News: 

– Fascinating, necessary read about China’s “diaosi” (or “losers”) as a consumer group. Last year, brandchannel wrote about China’s advertising king of the “diaosi,” Mike Sui.

– We can never get enough of China localization. Sony has done an exemplary job here with its new Handicam ad that laughs at the phenomenon of Chinese kindergartens locking out parents (for safety reasons).

– Speaking of localization, “Come out, come out, wherever you are” is Nike’s new China message.

– The site of recent “troubles,” Northwest China is home base for Hennessy’s new chateau.

– Taiwanese model and actress Lin Chi Ling adds Magnum ice cream to a resume of endorsements that includes Longines, Olay and the iPhone.

– Can China have “Likonomics” like Japan has “Abenomics?”

– China June PMI lowest in months.

– China’s manufacturing gear grinding could slam Hong Kong.

Air China now has in-flight wifi

– China can go to KFC, or it can go to McDonald’s. But Oreo wins in the end.

Uniqlo joins Jeep (yes, that one) in jeans recall.

– It’s not just the US that’s trying to levy sales tax on online retail as China asks for the e-comm “fapiao.”

– Why China needs a Steve Jobs. Excerp from the new ebook “Beta China: The Dawn of an Innovation Generation.”

– “[H]e would enjoy shooting Tencent Holdings Ltd’s iconic dumpy penguin mascot with a machine gun…”: Zhou Hongyi.

– In light of brandchannel’s coverage of the global rise of branded experience parks, here’s a gallery of work on China’s Angry Bird park.

Apple applied to trademark “iWatch” in Taiwan. Meanwhile, Apple faces trouble in Mainland China where several iWatch marks already exist.

– China’s top ten luxury cars. And for the people who buy them: China’s ten most employable college majors.

– Behind Hong Kong’s iconic “Two Girls” Kwong Sang Hong cosmetics brand.

– China’s banking crisis is wrecking China’s automakers.

– China’s domestic automakers losing export sales to foreign automakers that manufacture in China.

– Condoms, one of China’s, um, growth markets.

brandchannel looked at how Chengdu is booming. Now the western China city is home to the world’s largest building

– British tourists spend their money like this but Chinese tourists spend their money like this.

– With 70 million overseas users, China’s WeChat is opening to third party developers.

– Woman’s magazine Trends Health celebrated its 13th anniversary with a massive Hainan island beach bikini party.

– The result of so many food scandals, Shanghai mulls forcing those invalid in “high-risk food production” to carry insurance.

– Shark fin demand finally falling.

– Chinese company suing Apple over Siri trademark finally gets its day in court.

Mead Johnson, Wyeth, Dumex, Abbott Labs, and Frisco are among brands of baby formula targeted in a Chinese anti-trust probe.

– In light of probe, Nestle, Danone cut formula prices.

Tianjin builds doomed Manhattan replica.

– Then there is Jackson Hole, China.

Hilton will build mountain resort at Sichuan’s Emei.

– In Japan: Sweets maker Lotte releases gum for women over 50.

– Finally, luxury jeweler Enzo released a new nationwide ad campaign asking, “How many times do you want to get married?” (For the record, nearly 40 percent of marriages end in divorce in Beijing, where, luck would have it, Enzo has about a dozen outlets.)

At top: Photo via Weibo. And speaking of KFC and Weibo, one user dug up the placemats from the the 1987 Tiananmen Sqaure KFC, China’s first.

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