Our Chinese luxury Market Specialist Hua Qiu is just coming back from a 2 weeks journey through China. He tells us what is new, what has changed and what emerging trends should draw our attention.
“In China we are so numerous that at some point you just have to force your way. That is the reality of the chinese market”
Oliver: “Travellers who go to China for the first time are often striked by a certain harshness in people’s manners. Cars do not bother to yield to pedestrians, people fight to get on the bus instead of standing in line and these incivil behaviours seem to extend to all the aspects of the everyday life. From transportation to getting a better position. Can you help us throw some light on the roots of this phenomenon ?”
Hua Qiu: “You should not judge Chinese people so severely (laughters). You have to understand that we are a lot. In fact, we are so numerous that if you do not fight to get on the bus you actually never go. You can wait in line the whole day. Same thing for the cars: you do not have the leisure to be polite. You cannot yield to pedestrians. We are so many that there will always be new people coming on the cross walk. At some point you just have to force your way.”
“We are 1 billion. Demand has become so high that offer cannot keep up. We have to fight to get our share.”
Oliver: “I assume that what is true for cars also works for a getting a better position.”
Hua Qiu: “You are right. We are more than 1 billion. Demand on the Chinese market has become so high that offer cannot keep up. There are not enough schools, not enough positions, not enough products. If you do not want to rot in the country with a second rate job you must fight. You must belong to the 15% best students who will go the the best universities. Then you have to fight your classmates for the few best jobs. Then you have to fight your colleagues and maybe your boss for advancement. Due to our number, opportunities are very limited and I would best describe the situation quoting Balzac “Vous êtes tous des araignées dans un pot qui vous marchez les unes sur les autres pour en sortir”.
“China is still an emerging country. When I was a kid we had dumplings once a year only. We had not enough meat or oil”
Oliver: It’s right. In Europe we often reduce the Chinese birth rate problem to the alone dimension of birth control. Foolishly ignoring its obvious consequences: the need of school infrastructures or more basically the fight for jobs it induces.
Hua: You also forget that if China has a millenary culture it remains an emerging country in many ways. The capitalist turning point is very recent. When I was a kid we were very poor. We had dumplings only once a year. It was a celebration. We had not enough meat the rest of the time and we were lacking oil.
“In China you are judged on your results, not on your efforts”
Oliver: I understand that the fact that you are more than a billion exacerbates the situation but are there other elements that pressure Chinese society?
Hua: Yes. First, in China, you are judged according to your performances. People do not care about your efforts. They judge you only on your results. That is very characteristic of the Chinese market. Look at the Olympic Games for instance: in China nobody cares about the silver medals. They are not important. We only brought gold medals to light. Here if you do not have money and a big car you are nobody. Social status is everything. Even middle classes and poor people buy luxury. It’s a way to erase the stigmata of your origin or to show that you succeeded. On the Chinese market, all eyes are on you: you have to be successful.
Oliver: anything else?
Hua: I told you China was very young in a way. It creates some surprising disparities. For instance Chinese family structure remains very archaic. Parents invest in their children because they will be their best insurance. Children will take care of them when they will grow old. In China, social security was put in place 15 years ago only and people are not used to mutualized systems like the one you have in France.
“Chinese couples have to fight harder because the whole family relies on them. Their children, their parents and their grandparents sometimes”
Oliver: but what are the consequences on people’s everyday life?
Hua: it’s a lot of pressure. Couples have to take care of their parents and of their grandparents sometimes. Lifespan is increasing. They also have to prepare their children’s future. Remember what I told you: only the 15% best students will have a good job. The others will rot in second rate jobs. Parents spend a lot of money in education to make sure their children will succeed.
Oliver: I heard there was a wedding problem also?
Hua: that is an additional issue parents have to face. In a near future there will be more boys than girls in China. You will have to be an excellent marrying material if you want to find a wife. Parents begin to spare money for an eventual marriage portion.
“People think wide. They try new strategies all the time and they are very good at it. But at the same time they are workaholic and tend to ignore their needs. That is where you can predict the evolution of chinese luxury market.”
Oliver: all this sounds very Darwinistic (laughters ?). What are the consequences on the Chinese society?
Hua: there are good and bad consequences. Let’s start with the good ones: people are very dynamic, they think wide. I mean by that that they are always trying new possibilities and new strategies to keep up. It’s very nice. People want more. Plus there is so much demand that you can practically open a business in the street with a cardboard sign and it will work instantly. You can feel the energy in the air. But at the same time people are workaholic. They can be reached by their boss at any time. 24/7. And if they protest they can easily be fired and replaced. Thousands are waiting outside to take their place. You can sense people are feeling insecure. They need to feel that they achieved something. And they also tend to forget their needs: they do not relax, they have problems sleeping sometimes and if they do not work at least a couple of hours during the week-end they feel like they did not do anything. But it’s starting to change. People become more and more aware of their personal needs as society matures. Chinese market is more about growing up now. The future of Chinese luxury market is probably about wellness. People want to take care.