Post COVID-19 China: Latest Shifts With The Chinese Embracing The Present

3 min read.

It is of no surprise that all eyes are on China as it is the country that went head-first into lockdown mode and also the earliest to resume operations. Life is slowly returning to the new norm with the after-effects of shopping and travelling deprivation starting to show up in various ways. Post COVID-19 China has seen many eager consumers willing to spend as a result of pent-up frustration caused by flight and travel plan cancellations. We review three key changes and what the Chinese have been doing to embrace the present.

1. ENGAGING IN “REVENGE BUYING

Hermès brought in RMB 19 million in sales on the reopening day of its flagship store in Guangzhou’s Taikoo Hui. Photo: Reuters

Chinese consumers are practicing what they term “revenge buying”, especially in the luxury goods sector. Due to the breakdown in import supply of such luxury goods, the Chinese, who are notorious for splurging on their overseas trips, are turning to local sources to make their big ticket purchases.

International luxury brands caught onto the wave, livestreamed their Paris fashion shows on Douyin (China’s number 1 livestreaming app) to Chinese attendees who are unable to be physically present. Hermès is said to have brought in at least RMB 19 million in sales on the reopening day of its flagship store at Guangzhou’s Taikoo Hui.

2. GOING BACK TO BASICS

Apart from luxury items, Chinese consumers are also increasingly refocusing their priorities back to the basics. The outbreak has caused the Chinese to pay extra attention and care specifically in areas of health, nature and common folk activities like home cooking. With the pace of life mandatorily slowed by COVID-19, many have rediscovered the joys of reconnecting with oneself and the environment, which were often neglected and overlooked before COVID-19, where most Chinese were consumed by the ceaseless rat race. There is marked increase in demand for health supplements, fitness products and cooking appliances. In a study by Nielsen, 86 per cent of Chinese said they would eat at home more often compared with that before the outbreak.

3. CONTACTLESS MEDICAL SERVICES A MAINSTAY

Contactless medical services will be a mainstay as Chinese adopt and embrace a new social distancing norm. Currently, over 1000 businesses are offering remote medical consultation services to over 13,000 patients. Baidu alone has provided free medical consultations to over 15 million users with its pool of 100,000 healthcare professionals. Baidu, which is synonymous to Google in China’s context, even livestreamed medical professionals answering queries in real time.

WHAT BUSINESSES SHOULD DO

Businesses should capitalise on the 904 million online Chinese consumers (a whopping 64.6 per cent of its population) as they have never been more exposed to the possibilities of offline-to-online models. Do consider the shifts in values and priorities in Chinese consumer behaviour post COVID-19 and select the most appropriate online platforms to convey your message. Chinese now value living in the moment and expect brands to embrace this value as well.