Posts filed under ‘china’

China’s Online Creative Community – Part 2: Interview

Ju (MindShare, Regional Insights) writes:

A couple of months back I had the chance to meet with Sean Leow in a small café in Shanghai, one of the co-founders of the social networking site ‘Neocha’, which Pew Internet dubbed as China’s MySpace for the creative-types, as mentioned in the previous introductory post. I was first introduced to Neocha.com through our trend scout in Shanghai through her article on ‘Online Home for Indie Culture in China‘ on our Asia Scout Network blog.

Sean is a half-Chinese, half-American who has been living and working in China for the past four years. After growing up in San Francisco’s Bay Area and graduating from Duke University, Sean moved to China, studying and working in four Chinese cities along the way.

Chatting casually over coffee, Sean talks about his exposure to Japanese-influenced youth subcultures in China and the one-day Neocha launch event which attracted 8,000 to 10,000 young people through digital means and word-of-mouth while taking us through Neocha’s webzine <Blow-Up>. He contends that the best way to connect with young people is through brand engagement.

This edited video clip is a short collection of the highlights of the interview.

Read on for the full version:

1. What do you find interesting about China’s digital media landscape?
One thing that I find interesting is digital webzines. That’s something that some people say is a failure in other countries – releasing webzines with flash online. In China though, it has been pretty successful coz it’s so hard to get a publishing license here, that if you can release it online for free, people are demanding that kind of content – new content that speaks to them so much more than the stuff that is shown on state-run media.

We actually have one of our own – it’s called <Blow Up>. I’m pretty proud of ours because it’s the only one I know that’s 100% original content. A lot of these webzines they take articles or videos that they find on the internet and they’ll piece together some interesting stuff. There are some good ones, but one thing that we tried to really do is create a fully original one including all the music. All the music is by bands and musicians that we know in China. (View Neocha’s most recent issue of <Blow Up> here – definitely worth a look!)

2. Why create another online community platform in China?
The simple reason was that there was none targeted specifically at the creative communities in China. I’ve spent a lot of time going all over China. I’ve been here for four and a half years and I see really interesting content being created whether it’s music or photography or design. And when I go somewhere like Beijing, I’ll meet someone like “oh, I know someone who’s doing something similar in Shanghai” and I kept running into those situations until I’m thinking where is the aggregation point in this. Is this being done online or offline? What I found was that it wasn’t really existing, it was very scattered groups and I thought there was an opportunity to bring them together. So I went to some of my Chinese friends who are even more knowledgeable on this demographic – guys who are musicians, those who actually live the life. They’re like no, there isn’t a website that caters to us, that speak the same language.

So, on the one hand we saw that there was a need for an aggregator. On the other hand, I grew up in Silicon Valley so all my friends and family were always involved with the internet. Now I think the tools do exist that we can allow these people to both promote themselves, and at the same time collaborate with other people who are interested in this content.

One thing that we do that’s a bit different from other online communities is that we do have a big focus on offline events like that big event I showed. Our communities are already set up like that. To do a concert with them is not difficult because they’re already doing concerts. To do a photography exhibit with our photographers is not difficult because they’re already doing exhibits. And I also believe any successful community has an element where people can meet and talk, to reinforce the friends and the connections that you make online and offline. We’ve already done four or five offline events. We’re thinking of doing something on a monthly basis, on a smaller scale. This (launch event) is like once a year type of thing. Right now we only have the resources to handle Shanghai, but we’d also like to be in Beijing, Hangzhou, and to a lesser extent the other cities.

3. So how did you “get the ball rolling” and start attracting young people to the site and to the event?
In China, young people don’t use email that much. You think of viral campaigns that you do in the US, a lot of that’s through email. In China, you can definitely use email as a tool, but it’s definitely not used as widely as the US, except among white collar workers who use it for work. I find with the young generation it’s almost all IM, in the big cities it would MSN or otherwise QQ, and through cell phone. We also send out emails. I mean you send out 3,000 emails you’re bound to get somebody that’s going to respond to it and not think it’s spam. The other way that we did it was just contacting everybody that we knew that we considered, we’d call them ‘mavens’, guess you could say that, people who we think are influential, who have fans, networks that they can reach out to. You get those people on it and you get them to bring the people that they know. And then on top of that was the big event that we did. I find the best way to market online is actually through BBS’s, BBS forums. That’s traditionally how these online communities have been structured and in China it’s still and extremely popular form of communication. I think that’s moving more to the blog/space type of set up that we have. I guess that’s why we didn’t create a BBS for creative communities. But BBS is still very powerful for spreading your message.

4. Do you think there’s any social or cultural link between these creative communities and the non-creative types of people? Or are they completely separate from each other?
I’m not going to say that [the creative community] is huge because I don’t think it is yet. But it’s different from other niche subcultures that you see, because I think these people are having more and more influence over mainstream culture, and I think in 3-5 years they will be tremendously influential. That’s the hypothesis behind what we’re doing. We think they’re going to be extremely influential – these people are about 17 to about 30 years-old and they really represent the new generation of Chinese kids which is they’re very proud of being Chinese, and at the same time they’re part of the world community and that they have innovative, interesting content. They’re not just the China of old, made-in-China products, they want to turn that around and say ‘look we’ve got some interesting stuff too’. And it’s also the same as the motive by the government because for so long, China’s at a cultural deficit, they’ve been importing movies, music, art, and they haven’t been exporting anything. So they want to reverse that cultural deficit and start creating their own stuff that they can start using as ‘soft power’ to export to the rest of the world, like music. So I think it’s a perfect storm between these people coming of age, having the means to do it because they don’t have to worry about day-to-day existence, and basically being supported by the government and other people, not just their parents, but other people that they know.

5. How have the young people influenced the mainstream? Have you any examples?
Part of it you can just see by walking in this area (Xinle Lu). This is kind of like the hip area of Shanghai. You go into the boutique shops here and you see the clothes and, the T-shirt revolution that’s going in China as everywhere else in the world. There’s a lot of these designers like ‘The Thing’. You see their influences and their designs on everyday people who are walking the streets.

6. What’s the general attitude of the young Chinese people that you meet?

They’re sick of old media. They’re also sick of the canto-pop star. It’s difficult to put a label on them. They’re interested in finding ways to take independent culture and making it more influential on the mainstream. They’re not rebellious in the way that you would think of Americans or Europeans are rebellious, like try to run away from home. They still have that kind of filial piety to their parents. Some people’s parents are more accepting of what they’re trying to do and some people aren’t. They’re not interested in politics. We have over a hundred blogs which I read half of everyday and no one’s ever really talked about politics.

They’re talking about a new CD, posting an illustration that they did. There are different stratums of users. Our strategy is we are going after people who are already creating content. But they don’t have a good place to post it. In that way they already have the content – the pictures, the stories, the music. We think that’s the best way to grow the website fast because people have stuff to look at and interact with. And then at the same time, we’re trying to work on strategies to bring in more regular people who are interested in these creative communities, but isn’t necessarily the members who are making this stuff. They’re more interested in maybe reading about it or maybe commenting on it.

7. What’s the best way to connect with young people?

I really think digital is the best way to connect to young people. Not only are they spending time there and you can target them demographically, but also you can engage them so much more than you can with just an advertisement on TV. You can get them to in there and write a comment. You can get them to go in there and to vote for someone. You can get in there and download a template for a t-shirt and design the next version of the Adidas t-shirt. They engage with your brand that way – It’s not just I saw it and that’s great. They’re actually engaging with it….The cost isn’t that much to sponsor, but the return they get is that get all of these influential people all engaged with their brands for a certain amount of time. Maybe it’s a buzzword, but I think that brand engagement is a pretty important part of the digital strategy.

November 30, 2007 at 4:59 am 3 comments

Asian youth and the mobile phone

Ju (MindShare, Regional Insights) writes:

mobilelife.jpgThe mobile phone has become an indispensible equipment for Asian youth. PwC’s 2007 survey of nearly 8,000 of their staff from 17 countries around the world (78% aged between 16-34 yrs) revealed a whopping 98% mobile penetration rate in Asia-Pacific countries, with a significantly lower 62% fixed-line penetration rate.

The first Asia Scout Network pan-regional summary report by MindShare is therefore dedicated to the mobile phone – how mobiles mold the lifestyles of Asian youth and vice versa.  Findings are based on updates on the Asia Scout Network blog from our city scouts in Tokyo, Singapore, Jakarta, Bangkok, Sydney, Shanghai, and Kuala Lumpur.

The headlines are:
1) Asian youth pimp their mobiles
2) Mobilizing communities
3) Japan’s contagious QR codes
4) Mobile multimedia gains momentum
5) Making ‘Hero’ features visible
6) What lies beyond

Download the full report:asia-scout-network-the-mobile-life.pdf

August 28, 2007 at 3:00 am 2 comments

36 (Asian) Youth Facts in 159 Seconds

Ju (MindShare, Regional Team) writes:

The threebillion project put together a fascinating video on behalf of MTV Asia for the Music Matters Conference in Hong Kong late May ’07. The video features 36 facts dedicated to Asian youth in 159 seconds.

From threebillion: Whether it be teenage marriage in India, mobile phone usage in Japan, Filipino TV watching or Saudi Arabian Bluetooth porn, each market is rich it’s own brand of youth culture. This video is dedicated to the best thirty six facts we could find.

For those still waiting for the day the internet is free from censorship, here are all the facts and some screen captures of the video, courtesy of Global Nerdy.

youth-facts3.jpg

  • There are 3 billion people under 25 on this planet
  • 61% of them live in Asia
  • 67% of young Asians have downloaded music in the last month
  • Only 27% paid for it
  • Hong Kong youth spend the most time online per day (4.7 hours)
  • Indonesian youth spend the least (0.9 hours)
  • Young Filipinos watch the most TV per day (6.2 hours)
  • Young Chinese watch the least (3.2 hours)
  • There are 37.5 million gamers in China
  • 90% play online games
  • Weekly, Korean teenagers will spend
    • 14 hours on the computer…
    • .12.8 hours watching TV
    • 0.7 hours reading newspapers
  • Taiwan has the highest teenage birthrate in Asia
  • South Korea has the lowest
  • 45% of young Japanese women said they were in love
  • Only 30% of young Japanese men said the same
  • 82% of Japanese teen males said they used contraception the first time they had sex
  • Only 12% of Japanese 20-year-olds use the home PC to access the internet — the same level as 50-year-olds — they’re using their mobile phones instead
  • 26% of all youth deaths in China are from suicide
  • In India, 50% of girls will be married before they are 18
  • In Nepal, the rate is 60%
  • 85% of Korean teenagers own a cell phone
  • They send an average of 60 messages per day
  • 46% of students send messages in class
  • “Our children are seriously addicted to cell phones” — Parent’s Union Spokesperson
  • Chinese people spend 10x more money on the internet than people in the west
  • It represents 10% of their monthly income
  • Who prefers a laid-back hassle-free lifestyle?
    • 14% of Chinese teens
    • 22% of South Korean teens
    • 43% of Japanese teens
  • 99% of Saudi teens use Bluetooth
  • 99% said that the device had broken social taboos
  • 85% said it was safe for communication with the opposite sex
  • 69% of messages exchanged by Saudi teens were pornographic

June 18, 2007 at 1:31 pm 4 comments

Australian bank invents iPodinomics

ipodcash.jpg

Paul (MindShare, Bangkok) writes:

The famous Big Mac Index, developed by the Economist Magazine over 20 yrs ago, now has a new challenger in the form of the Ipod. Burgernomics is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity, the notion that a dollar should buy the same amount in all countries.

The people at Commenwealth Securities in Australia believe that their IPod Index is superior to the Big Mac index for a number of reasons. Read more here: The CommSec iPod Index.

Here’s how Asia compares:

CommSec iPod nano index, 2 gigabytes, US dollars, January 2007

Brazil $327.71
India $222.27
Sweden $213.03
Denmark $208.25
Belgium $205.81
France $205.80
Finland $205.80
Ireland $205.79
UK $195.04
Austria $192.86
Netherlands $192.86
Spain $192.86
Italy $192.86
Germany $192.46
China $179.84
Korea $176.17
Switzerland $175.59
NZ $172.53
Australia $172.36
Taiwan $164.88
Singapore $161.25
Mexico $154.46
US $149.00
Japan $147.63
Hong Kong $147.63

February 13, 2007 at 2:34 pm 1 comment

China’s instant messenger IPTV

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James (MindShare regional team, Singapore) writes:

Virtual China just posted about a new IPTV product announced by Tencent and TCL. According to many reports on the Chinese IPTV market like this one, China will fast leapfrog to become the largest IPTV market in the world.   Given the massive adoption of free/cheap internet messenger services like QQ, on the PC and the mobile phone, it seems likely that this service will soon be integrated into the TV also. 

What interested me about this product and post especially was the detailed product features and human benefits profiled here by Intel blogger Kevin Rui:

  • Tencent today announced with TCL industrial research institute in Shenzhen iTQQ TV– the first TV with interactive intelligence born in China.
  • ITQQ TV offers online games, photo albums, e-cards and instant messagers..you can play poker online while watching TV
  • According to Tencent Shenzhen R&D center general manager Li Jiancheng: Old people can now inquire the working status of their children through the device even with no former internet experiences.
  • The remote controller can be used to communicate with the children to know whether and when they will come home for dinner.
  • With QQ IM functions, the end users may share their favorite TV program with friends instantly
  • Upload digital photos and make new years’ e-cards for online QQ users while watching TV
  • All of these operations using one single remote controller.

January 23, 2007 at 3:52 pm 3 comments

Why give FIFA 07 away for free in Korea

  James (MindShare regional, Singapore) writes: 

Eric Pfanner at IHT just wrote an excellent, well-researched article Internet pushes the concept of ‘free’ content, supported by advertising.

I recommend you to read the full article, which explores the overall trend towards giving content and other media and services away for free, and the huge burden companies are putting on advertising to provide the long-term business model. We see the same trend in (free) newspapers, music, mobile services and other areas. 

In Asia of course, where piracy is rampant, and consumers are far less willing to pay for content in general, this trend is likely to be accelerated. Here are the two Asian examples from the article:

“FIFA 07,” a video game for soccer fans, costs around €50 in
Europe. In South Korea, five million players have downloaded the online version free — yet Electronic Arts, the publisher, is cheering them on. Realizing that it was impossible to sell “FIFA Online” in a country where piracy is rampant, Electronic Arts started giving away the game last spring. Once the players were hooked, the company offered for sale ways to gain an edge on opponents; extending the career of a star player, for instance, costs less than $1. Since May, Electronic Arts has sold 700,000 of these enhancements.

Even in China, where piracy is widespread, EMI Music agreed this week to make its music available for a free, ad- supported service run by Baidu, the country’s largest search engine.

I’ve also pulled out some other juicy facts/examples from the article:

  • At least 28 million free newspapers are distributed every day around the world, 19 million of them in Europe, where the total has doubled over the past three years.
  • After several years of heavy promotion, digital sales made up only 10 percent of total music industry revenue in 2006
  • AOL, formerly a subscription service, has opened its Internet portals in the United States and Europe to all Internet users, free of charge, in the hope of appealing to more advertisers that way.
  • According to a survey of 130 media executives from around the world, conducted recently by Accenture, 31 percent forecast that subscription models would be the dominant business model in five years’ time, with 25 percent opting for so-called pay-per-play funding. But 37 percent said advertiser financing would be the predominant business model in five years’ time.
  • Worldwide, media spending by consumers and business users still handily outstrips advertising, by $944 billion to $385 billion, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers

January 19, 2007 at 5:36 pm 1 comment

Chelsea target 120 million Chinese internet users

James (MindShare regional team, Singapore) writes:

As a lifelong Manchester United fan, I really don’t like writing about the arch enemy – Chelsea (hence the choice of photo above after their tragic loss to Liverpool in last year’s Charity Shield).

But this BBC news item really did deserve a mention. Unlike previous club marketing strategies in China, Chelsea have decided to go directly online, with a Mandarin site and tie-up with Sina.com:

Instead of opening their own outlets, Chelsea – which are neck and neck with Manchester United in terms of popularity, according to market research surveys – will focus their efforts on the internet, grassroots support and cooperation with the national football association.

 Their new website partner, Sina, is the most powerful force in the Chinese internet, which has more than 120 million users. Sina will translate material from Chelsea’s English website and add comment from a local perspective in return for a share of revenues from advertising, sponsorship, online sales and membership subscriptions. Within a year, it is expected to turn in a profit.

It sounds like a smart business move. But surely Chinese fans won’t be fooled into supporting the bad guys, right J

January 10, 2007 at 4:53 pm Leave a comment

Chinese mobile advertising trends and outlook

 James (MindShare regional team,Singapore) writes:

You probably know now that China has 400 million mobile phone users already, and that almost as many people access the internet by their handset as by a PC now. I just found this great interview article by Kiran Aditham with Madhouse CEO Joshua Maa at ADOTAS.

The article is long, and some parts read like a corporate brochure, but worth reading for all the juicy facts and predictions. I’ve cut out some favourite parts here below:

China handset market is more fragmented = complex

US operators buy handsets in bulk from handset makers such as Nokia and Motorola and then distribute them to end users as part of a package….As a result, the US has fewer overall handset models and the operators have greater control over handset specifications and functionality.

In China, users go to an electronics or phone shop directly to buy the handset of their choice. Once purchased, the Chinese user then inputs her SIM card into the handset and begins to make calls. For this reason, China has over 1,000 handset models on the market, creating a highly fragmented handset environment that lacks common standards: different screen sizes, operating systems, memory, and applications. The difficulty of adapting advertising content and campaigns to so many different devices creates barriers to entry.

Chinese SMS priced low, so consumers got used to texting:

Another difference is in user habits. When China launched SMS services, the carriers priced SMS low – a single text message was priced at 1/4 the price of 1 minute of airtime. The result: SMS has become a killer application. Chinese users are highly accustomed to sending and receiving text messages on their phones. In 2005, 305 billion SMS were sent in China (this is not a typo!).

Chinese mobile internet taking off:

Besides sending text messages, Chinese users are very active in the realm of mobile content. China has numerous Nasdaq-listed providers of mobile content and services, tapping a mobile content market that reached nearly US$ 1.3 billion in 2005 according to Credit Suisse.

In addition to paid content, China’s mobile users actively surf the mobile Internet. China Mobile reports over 100 million mobile Internet users on its 2.5G networks. Analysys forecasts China’s mobile Internet user base will grow from 115 million in 2006 to reach 230 million in 2008, outnumbering traditional PC-based Internet users.

Chinese mobile internet traffic not at carrier sites:

Traffic on off-deck sites in China is significantly higher than on official carrier sites. Leading off-deck sites such as WapTX, QQ.com, 3g.net.cn, and Kong.net provide free content, services, and community to their user bases.

Future for mobile advertising in China:

Japan is still the leader in mobile media, but advertisers in China are aware of the love affair Chinese are having with their mobile phones, and may be a step ahead in adapting to mobile media as an advertising channel. When 3G arrives in China allowing users to enjoy affordable and high-speed access, we expect the China mobile advertising market to race ahead of its US and European counterparts.

Flat-rate GPRS packages in China:

Mobile Internet GPRS service is available nearly everywhere in China, and operators are offering flat-rate monthly packages to encourage users to go online with

Chinese friends SMS WAP urls virally:

In addition to going online with their phones, users in China input urls into their phones to visit “off-deck” sites. In China we call them Free WAP sites. Friends can send url links via SMS to create a viral effect for sites or interesting advertising campaigns.

China introducing barcodes, which can be photographed by phone and link to internet

China is just beginning to introduce 2D barcode reader software that can be downloaded to the phone. Once users have the software installed, they use their camera-phones to take a picture of the barcode, which is then translated into a url link to the relevant site which can then be visited via connecting to the mobile Internet.

January 10, 2007 at 4:30 pm 1 comment

Chinese sites vs global Web 2.0 giants

James (MindShare regional, Singapore) writes:

Media is fundamentally local, and the internet is no different. Businessweek’s Bruce Einhorn just wrote an excellent summary of the battle for Web2.0 in China. He profiles several emerging Chinese Web2.0 players, including Yoqoo, Mojiti, WangYou and Mofile and Mop.com. My favorite paragraph is this:

Despite the deep pockets of MySpace owner News Corp., Chinese Net executives say they’re not too worried about its arrival. U.S. Internet companies, after all, haven’t fared particularly well in China. Yahoo! (YHOO), Amazon.com (AMZN), and Google have been outmaneuvered by local rivals, and eBay Inc. (EBAY) on Dec. 19 announced it was shuttering its Chinese site and forming a joint venture with Beijing-based Tom Online Inc. Given that track record, and the potential for missteps in handling the censors, locals may well have an edge, says Joseph Chen, CEO of Oak Pacific, which controls six Web 2.0 sites. What keeps Chen up nights are not thoughts of U.S. marauders but the ever-expanding hordes of homegrown rivals. “We’ve heard of 50 MySpace copycats and 150 YouTubes” in
China, says Chen.

It’s a stark reminder of how foreign companies need to adapt to win in China. For example, there’s a great example of how WangYou checks every video file before it posts up:

While YouTube monitors videos for pornography and violations of intellectual property, in China the self-censorship goes much further. For instance, WangYou gets about 6,000 video files a day, and the company can’t afford to let a single one go live without checking it first. “All of this content has to be screened and scrubbed before it gets uploaded to the Web site,” says Chief Financial Officer Edward Haynes…

January 5, 2007 at 9:11 am Leave a comment

70% Chinese PC broadband users watch TV

download-tv-clips.jpg

 James (MindShare regional team,Singapore) writes:

It’s not everyday you get to download millions of dollars worth of free data and analysis. But that’s basically what the UK government’s Ofcom report on International Communications markets is. It covers dozens of markets, but the special Asian focus is Japan and China.

No surprise that Japan consistently leads the world in the mobile arena throughout the report.But perhaps more surprising is that China broadband users lead the world in TV clip/programme viewing via the PC.

From the data (sorry the chart is blurred) you can see that 70% of all Chinese broadband users had viewed or downloaded TV. This was FAR ahead of other markets like Japan (just over 40%) and USA (under 40%).The chart also shows a generation divide in China, as across the world, with over 80% of 18-24 year olds having downloaded TV, versus just over 60% of 45-54 year olds.

Some other highlights for me in the report:

  • 33% Japanese claim to watch less TV since getting broadband internet

  • More Chinese (76%) broadband users have downloaded music than any other market

  • Chinese watch less TV (154 mins per day) than other markets in the study (US 271 mins, Japan 311 mins)

  • Asia has 53% of the world’s TV households, but only 19% of the TV revenues

  • More Japanese watch TV at breakfast (29%) than in other markets by a long way

  • China TV viewership is less concentrated in the top 5 channels (26%) than any market in the world. The next closest market was US (35%)

January 4, 2007 at 1:01 pm Leave a comment

China’s back dorm boys – could they be cloned?

 James (Singapore) writes:

One more interesting link from Paul at www.threebillion.com got me thinking. The IHT.com article is all about the flourishing celebrity lives of China’s ‘Back dorm boys’ – the guys who did the hilarious lip-synch video last year on YouTube.

Over the past 18 months, they’ve done five more music videos and landed jobs advertising Pepsi Cola, Motorola, and Jessica Simpson’s latest album ‘Public Affair.’

In February, the duo signed a five-year contract with Taihe Rye Music, a Beijing talent management company. Other clients include pop star Xu Wei and the winner of China’s own American Idol-style singing contest Li Yuchun.

“We think they have a lot of artistic potential,” said Taihe manager Song Zhe. “They could do a lot of different kinds of projects like movies, singing, maybe funny cameo bit parts … their own art exhibitions.”

It got me wondering – since current celebrities are so expensive to employ, I wonder whether any devious talent agencies or marketers have tried creating new celebrities, using new social media tools, with the specific aim of then using them for endorsements later. Like some kind of Faustian pact.

It would be against all the ethics of Web2.0, and very damaging if it backfired.

Which means I bet somebody’s giving it a go right now…

Anyway, perhaps this post was just an excuse to experiment with embedding (infectiously funny) video into the blog for a change…

December 14, 2006 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

China’s tuangou 团购 team-buying websites

dsc00118.jpg

James (MindShare regional team, Singapore) writes:

Lyn Jeffery at Virtual China just posted about China’s tuangou (团购) phenomenon. Tuangou’s all about shopping, aggregating enough people to be able to get a discount or better terms on everything from cars to real estate. I really want to see one of these next trip to China!

Here are two examples:

On the Hefei Tuangou Web you can find a BBS forum that lists the various times and places that groups will be meeting–or in some cases, would like to meet if they can get enough interest.

Wangqun Tuangou has the best photos of their buying sprees, such as this trip to a Dazhong Electronics branch store in Beijing on Nov. 26, where over 1000 people bought over $200,000 worth of electronics equipment in a single afternoon. Pretty wild stuff!

This seems to be one of the purest examples of The Big Switch disrupting economics in Asia. I haven’t heard the same phenomenon taking off in other Asian markets, but I’m sure it’s out there.  It raises several questions:

  1. Is this likely to happen only in emerging markets or also mature markets?

  2. Is it taking off in China because it has a fairly unique balance: a very price sensitive, low-income consumer-base, but who are also generally now online?

  3. Will it enable marketers to communicate offers more directly to consumers, and generate a direct purchase pull, without relying on retailers to push?

  4. Will we see brand advertising followed by links to Tuangou sites? Co-op deals even?

December 13, 2006 at 8:36 am 1 comment

How to influence Chinese consumers

James (Singapore) writes:

I was just reading this Engaging China blog post (thanks for the link, Paul) and I got an overwhelming sense of deja vu. A new survey research has highlighted the differences between Chinese and American consumers, in terms of which media influence them:

China: reading an article about a product, internet advertising, TV, magazines and cable.

US: word-of-mouth is the biggest influence on what young men buy, followed by magazine advertising, articles mentioning the product, internet advertising and in last place, TV.

Only 22% of Chinese men say that word-of-mouth was important to them compared to 54% in the US.

Over the years I’ve seen this result repeated over and over again in China, but never quite believed it. Then recently, a colleague and I were discussing car marketing in China. He pointed out that most car buyers in China are buying their first car. They don’t have a network of expert and experienced parents, uncles, siblings and neighbours to consult. So the most powerful influence is the media – both articles and advertising.

OK, now I believe it.

And of course, with the Big Switch in full swing, everyday Chinese consumers now have the power to consult an unlimited world of articles and expert opinions.

December 11, 2006 at 2:52 pm 1 comment

Big Switch to virtual money in China

James (Singapore) writes:

The Big Switch is all about people taking control of their media and choices. But this article at DNA reminds us how profound the implications can be. A new virtual currency, which has been born from within QQ, China’s massive instant messenger phenomenon, could be set to disrupt the official economy:

… earlier this month, China’s central bank gave expression to concerns that virtual money in China needed to be regulated, and that the bank would issue guidelines next year on virtual transactions. 

…The subject of China’s virtual economy has been agitating some of the country’s keenest minds in recent times. Commentaries in economic journals have speculated on whether the profileration of QQ coins would result in Tencent becoming a ‘virtual central bank’. There are even scholarly expositions on whether conditions are ripe for ‘virtual inflation’

I’d love to know more about this story. Is this a case of a new virtual alternative to money emerging, because of the regulatory difficulties of performing transactions in the official economy? Is it, like pagers and mobile phones in the 90’s, a case of China leapfrogging ahead because of its problematic infrastructure?

And perhaps more exciting, is there an opportunity for marketers to develop a branded currency?

(thanks again to Paul for the link)

December 5, 2006 at 2:20 am Leave a comment

Nike’s world record ad campaign in China

Just 5 hours after Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang broke the 110 meter hurdle world record (12.88 seconds) in Switzerland last week, Nike briefed its creative and media agencies in Shanghai, Wieden & Kennedy and MindShare, to turn around an instant ad campaign. Within hours an outdoor ad was running on the side of the Aurora skyscraper, and online ads were placed on Chinese portal sina.com. By the time the hero arrived at Beijing Airport, he was wearing a Nike-sponsored “12.88” t-shirt, giving brand coverage across TV, print and the internet. By the next day, the campaign hit large outdoor media sites, such as a 500 sqm billboard in Beijing’s downtown Wang Fu Jing district.

Now that’s a 360-degree campaign, turned around in hours. So why does it usually take months? Of course it helps if the athlete you’re sponsoring hails from the world’s most patriotic nation and breaks a world record. But perhaps it’s also a reminder that when the content and message is brutally simple – like the number 12.88 – a major news-based campaign can be executed in just days across multiple channels. The simpler the message, the faster and further you can project it. There’s a time and a place for big production, sophisticated ads. But there’s also an alternative – be prepared to get the news out fast while it’s still news. Or in other words…Just do it!

August 20, 2006 at 3:10 pm Leave a comment

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