8 Retail Trends In China For The Year Of The Monkey


With the continued rebalancing of the Chinese economy, 2016 could be characterised as another year of change for China. The Year of the Monkey, 2016, is also set to be another year of Chinese transformation, as China continues down the path of becoming more of a consumption rather than a manufacturing economy. The Chinese retail sector is at the intersection of much of this transformation and, with the rapid growth of e-commerce, Chinese retail is changing and adapting fast.

To help you focus on what is important, I have synthesized the multitude of change into 8 key retail trends in China for the Year of the Monkey that I  think you  should be thinking about and creating strategies to address.

So each day for thew next 8 I will be featuring another retail trend.

Here goes with Trend 1

Foreign Flavors – Trend 1

There has been an influx of international products and brands into China in the past year, and this will continue in the Year of the Monkey. Tmall Global, the international division of the huge eCommerce platform Taobao Tmall, has been instrumental in fuelling growth in sales of foreign brands, linking sellers with a ready market of Chinese consumers whose appetite for international goods is strong. Tmall Global’s promise – “100% foreign original authentic, 100% foreign merchants, 100% domestic return” – speaks directly to consumer sensitivity around food and product safety and the demand for reassurance on authenticity, as well as a desire for international fashion and the latest consumer durables.

Thanks to digital platforms and fairly straightforward customs regulations, many more international brands are finding the time is now right to dip a toe in the lucrative Chinese market. Cross-border sales – some official, some not – have long been a way for Chinese consumers to experience new brands, and we see digital sales platforms growing in appeal for international brands taking the plunge in this market. Electronics and apparel have for some time been strong cross-border sellers online in China, and we now see growing sales of international brands in FMCG products, particularly those relating to baby care, health and nutrition, given ongoing domestic concern about safety in these categories.

Those consumers who have had the means to travel internationally to buy foreign brands will continue to do so, but, by providing these goods through trusted online channels, brands have an opportunity to connect with many millions more people.

The Year Of The Monkey – Chinese New Year Explained

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year, known in china as spring festival, is the country’s most important holiday. The Chinese New Year is based on a calendar established about 4,700 years ago. Various legends explain the origin of the Chinese New Year. One describes how people dreaded the New Year because a fearsome beast named Nian annually terrorised the population and devoured children. Then one year a child appeared dressed in red. The beast, frightened by the color, fled and never returned. That’s why the Chinese New Year traditionally features red lanterns and noisy firecrackers to ward off evil spirits. The Chinese New Year is based on a calendar that calculates time using both lunar and solar events. Time passes in 12- year cycles, with each year represented by an animal of the Chinese zodiac. Traditionally, people prepare special foods and hope for a future of good luck. They attend many family dinners, starting with a New Year’s Eve feast. Travel home for the family reunion produces a mass migration. The New Year period culminates in the lantern festival, a joyful celebration around the first new moon in the lunar New Year.

The Year of The Monkey

Chinese Astrology Believers in Chinese astrology attribute a person’s personality characteristics to the profile of their birth year animal. It’s not that simple of course. According to the Chinese view of the world as being composed of opposites, the animals of the zodiac are divided equally: yin animals and yang. They are also linked with similar animals into categories called trines. In addition, each animal is connected to one of five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The possible combination of animals and elements produces a 60-year cycle and a complicated system of astrology. People who are born in the Year of the Monkey are believed to have the following characteristics: They tend to be inventors, motivators, problem solvers and improvisers. They are quick-witted, inquisitive, flexible, innovative, self-assured and polite. They can also be egotistical, arrogant and reckless.

Chinese New Year Is Approaching

Chinese New Year Celebrations

Apple’s ubiquitous products do not change one iota from market to market.

But they are starting to dabble in limited editions that tap key moments in specific countries consumers lives.

Announced today for Chinese New Year is one such initiative.

Two Apple Sports watches to celebrate Chinese New Year – the year of the monkey. These will be available in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.

Apple CNY Watch

Expect more of this type of activity by manufactures, especially in wearable tech, in the future.

11: 11 Singles Day – The Retail Explosion

Singles Day 11

If you missed my In Retail Conversation With…live web session all about Singles Day or 11: 11 the world’s biggest single day for retail sales, you can catch it here on the live recording. Many thanks to Doreen Wang, my guest on the show and the production team, Tuhin and Alex.


A Fitting Tribute

Lincoln Center

New York’s Metropolitan Opera led by Placido Domingo on Saturday mourned the victims of the attacks in Paris with an unscheduled performance of the French national anthem.

Ahead of a matinee of Puccini’s “Tosca,” Domingo conducted the orchestra in “La Marseillaise” as the Metropolitan Opera Chorus sang the words in French on stage.

A slip of paper was put in all programs at the premier US opera house with the lyrics to the anthem and an explanation that the song was “a show of our solidarity with the citizens of France.”

We are all with you too.

You can see it here

New York City Marathon

New York City Marathon 2015

Congratulations to everyone who participated in todays New York City Marathon. An extraordinary sight and carnival atmosphere. My admirations to all 50,000+.

And a well deserved lift home for some…



London Gets Ready for Xi

Xi UK Visit

London is looking decidedly more red that usual at the start of the autumnal season.

President Xi Jinping of China arrives today for the start of a very high profile 4 day State Visit.

The Mall is now intermingled and lined with massive UK and Chinese flags. It is on the route from Horse Guards Parade where he will be officially welcomed and travel the short distance by carriage to Buckingham Palace, where President Xi will be staying for most of his time whilst in the UK.

His trip includes a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace with the Queen as the host.

Apple, Selfridges, Art and Branding

Apple Windows at Selfridges

It was odd.

The windows of the iconic department store Selfridges in London were all covered up with Rolex banners so you could not see in.

Then on Thursday all was revealed.

The covers came off. Not a Rolex in sight.

24 windows with a massive Apple Watch installation.

The theme?

Each window has flowers inspired by the flowers on the “Motion” face of the Apple Watch. Each window features an Apple watch as well.

It’s a tremendous, eye catching piece of art and brand experience.

A fusion of art, retail and brand that we should be seeing more of. And judging by the passers by… head turning and stop in their tracks ‘must take a closer look’… staggeringly impactful.

The “flowers” themselves are created through a number of techniques from 3D printing to more traditional resin casting. There are eight different flower variations decorating the windows, each of which was envisioned, scaled, sculpted, and hand-painted by artists. All in all, they created 24 large, 50 medium, 240 “small plus” and 5,525 small flowers.

The effort and attention to detail is paralleled to the original photography Apple used for the creation of their “Motion” watch face. For those flowers Apple shot them as they were flowering in real time. One flower taking 285 hours and more than 25,000 shots.

See all the windows in this on line flip-book and download the window image montage at the top of this post.

Congratulations to each artist involved. You have my respect.

Advertising? Retailing? Brand Experience? Art? …Discuss…









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