China Market Update March 9th 2020

eCommerce & Omnichannel Retail

  • Alibaba will provide $144 million in subsidies for a March shopping festival to offset COVID-19’s devastating impact on China’s retail industry.
  • TikTok (The Western counterpart of Bytedance’s Douyin app) is testing a new eCommerce feature enabling users to share eCommerce links within their posts/bios.
  • Shanghai-based research company The Silk Initiative have identified KFC, Nongfu, White Rabbit, Lays and Wei Long as the top five most innovative/creative food and beverage companies in China.
  • Coresight Research analyse how retailers can futureproof their China businesses using data: from walletless payments, to social commerce, to shopping festivals and collaborating with other brands.
  • Fung Business intelligence have released an overview report of China’s most popular B2C business models, including: O2O, Traditional Offline, Traditional Online and Group Buying/Social Commerce.
  • Vogue Business have discussed COVID-19’s dramatic impact on consumer psychology: such as the undermining of consumer confidence, and the higher prioritisation of health and immunity. As many businesses are already adapting to these changes, retail is forecast to recover around May or June.
  • Alibaba’s Freshippo (formerly HEMA) have sold six times their normal volume of packaged vegetables throughout COVID-19 – an estimated 330 tonnes in total.
  • Shanghai based researcher Fionn Wright discusses Ten Trends which Indicate COVID-19 Will Make China Stronger. These include: a shift away from traditional retail, a rise in home/remote-work, advances in healthcare and biotech and the accelerated integration of smart-cities.
  • Alizilla have released an informative short video introducing Taobao for unfamiliar businesses.
  • Petrol stations and convenience stores have launched a trial app which enables users to order fresh groceries delivered to their car-boot as they refuel.
  • 85% of Starbuck’s China stores have reopened, as COVID-19 fears wane.
  • Jing Daily reveals how brands can tap China’s fast rising $130 billion wedding industry, by focusing on style and quality, sustainability, as well as through the use of celebrity and social media endorsement.
  • In their efforts to adapt to the COVID-19 landscape, smart supermarkets (i.e. Alibaba’s Freshippo,’s 7Fresh and Tencent’s Super Series) are increasingly using WeChat Mini Programs to support Meanwhile, we’re encountering a boom in livestreaming on eCommerce platforms as well as social selling in private WeChat groups.

Cross-Border Trade and Global Supply Chains

  • As COVID-19 turmoil rises overseas (notably in Iran, Italy and Japan), China is showing signs that it is returning to business-as-usual [Read more @ Business Insider].
  • China Law Blog shed some light into the new trends businesses need to be aware of when operating in a post COVID-19 China. These including new tariffs, the opening to WFOE’s, to greater foreign and domestic competition, as well as a rising risk of counterfeiting activities and trademark theft.
  • In February, China’s National Health Commission made an official recommendation that consumers drink 300 grams of milk products daily to fend off COVID-19. However, this did not translate to immediate milk sales, as industry experts point to hindered logistics and delivery performance.
  • As dock-workers resume regular working hours, China’s major shipping ports have loosed some of the strong cargo backlogs which have been hindering global supply chains.
  • With global supply chains backed up, demand for counterfeit and pirated games/entertainment products has surged.
  • COVID-19 has caused the steepest manufacturing industry contraction since 2009.

Digital Marketing and Technology

Overseas Movement and Travel

  • A Kantar WeChat survey has revealed that COVID-19 caused 75% of respondents to cancel their travel plans. Meanwhile, 32% plan to buy more from omnichannel retailers.
  • Douyin/TikTok is being increasingly used globally as a tool to build exposure and engagement with Chinese audiences at major travel destinations; including the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Ant Financial have invested in Swedish payments ap Klarna, signalling an expansion into Europe.
  • China’s tourism industry appears to be waking up, with searches for flights during the upcoming May holiday up 84%.
  • China’s scheduled airline capacity has grown over 25% week-on-week, an indication that China’s travel industry is recovering. However, this may reflect the extreme measures being taken by airlines to raise demand, with some airlines dropping domestic flights prices down to as little as US$4.
  • The Chinese government will subsidize international flights (both inbound and outbound) until June 30th. The move not only supports various travel and tourism sectors, but also suggests that the Chinese government is serious about maintaining connections with the outside world [Read more – CN].


  • The current COVID-19 tally sits at 108K cases, 3,800 deaths and 59K recoveries.
  • Alibaba founder Jack Ma has donated AUD$3.2 million to the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity to accelerate the development of a COVID-19 vaccine [Read More @ The Australian]. Meanwhile Tencent has invested ¥88 million (AUD$19.2 million) to aid COVID-19 research and medical care.
  • Paul O’Brien discusses the ten key interventions China used to dominate COVID-19, from lockdowns, quarantine and holiday extensions to leveraging technology.
  • A research paper has forecasted that China’s COVID-19 outbreak will level off in April.

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