Spotlight on Shoppers – Trend 4

Spotlight on Shoppers China

Shopper marketing has been an area that brands and, often, retailers in China have battled to understand. We believe that the Year of the Monkey will be the year that the value of the shopper – as a way to grow both brand preference and market share – comes into focus. Brands have traditionally sought to win over Chinese consumers using price as the main attraction. Online and offline, retailers and brands have for too long taken the easy option and pulled the price lever to boost sales.

The problem has been that, as a result, loyalty has been hard to achieve, and this lack of loyalty is becoming evident now, with slowing growth making it difficult for brands and retailers to keep cutting prices. We see forward-thinking brands now starting to focus on the shopper, and seeking out ways to win at the all-important point of purchase. A tremendous amount of decision-making happens in the so-called last mile, and the brands that understand shopper behavior stand to strengthen their position.

In a slowing marketplace, the brands that rely on price in order to win may succeed in the short term but will ultimately lose. This is the year in which those that have invested in brand equity will be in a stronger position. Brands and stores that understand the factors – beyond price – that trigger a sale at the point of purchase can now stand out, and that can mean the difference between life and death. Investment in improving the execution of cross-platform campaigns in the retail space will increase, as will spending on improving the presence of brands on the shelf. The bar for quality in shopper marketing will be raised this year, and those that execute poorly will lose crucial sales.

A Change of Pace – Trend 3

The Bund Shanghai

As China and the businesses that operate within it adjust to a slower pace of economic growth, the Year of the Monkey will be a crucial one; those with strong products and strong brands stand to do well. Others are likely to fall by the wayside. Legendary investor Warren Buffett says that when the tide goes out, you can see who’s been swimming naked. In China right now, there will be more than a few c-suites where managers are wishing they had a towel handy. This is a market that may be delivering sluggish growth in comparison to the rates we’ve grown accustomed to in China – but it is still growing.

Now, however, that slower growth, coupled with volatility on the stock markets, means there is pressure on consumer confidence and spending, and that means only the strongest brands will now benefit from China’s growth. This year, we believe, will see a shake-out; for the businesses that have invested in their brand during times of fast growth, and which have built a relationship with consumers, this could well be beneficial, as competitors that have cluttered their category struggle and disappear. For those who have not yet earned a place in consumers’ hearts and minds, the coming year will be an enormous challenge.

Back to Reality – Trend 2


In the battle between online and offline retailing, online has been making extraordinary gains in recent years, largely at the expense of physical retail. Yet sales volumes offline still vastly exceed those in ecommerce. Increasingly, retailers are discovering the value of linking the strengths of online and offline, and using them in combination. The Chinese government believes in a healthy retail market which includes both strong online and offline components, so we are expecting policy announcements which will stabilize the physical retail market.

We have seen significant investment by online shopping platforms in their offline capabilities, and this is driving growth in online-to-offline (or O2O) retailing. Alibaba’s $4.6 billion link-up with bricks and- mortar electronics chain Suning Commerce Group is just one of several high-profile investments in the fast developing O2O market in China, and more are likely to be on the way. Alibaba rival had been seen to have the edge when it came to customer service, and the O2O deal puts Alibaba back in the game. The idea of O2O is to give consumers the best of both worlds – the experience of shopping in person at a store, and the convenience and competitive pricing of online.

It makes business sense for offline retailers to move in this direction, too, as cash generated online can be invested in bricks and mortar, and online browsing can drive footfall in physical stores. In the overlap between ecommerce and physical shopping, large volumes of stock can be shifted with a click – and a high-value, personal and physical experience can be delivered in the real world.


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…



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