China Market Update March 18th 2020


  • President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan last week, as Beijing senses COVID-19 ‘victory’. Meanwhile, the official lockdown in Hubei has been lifted.
  • China’s economic activities appear to be returning to normal, whilst major Chinese companies maintain an optimistic outlook. Simultaneously, China is taking measures to assist foreign companies get back to work in China and boost foreign investment.
  • Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu are forecast to be the fastest-recovering cities/economies in the mainland.
  • The World Health Organisation has officially declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic.
  • The current COVID-19 toll stands at over 160K,000 cases, almost 6,000 deaths and 74,000 recoveries.


  • Amidst growing global fears over the virus, Chinese consumers are more likely than their global counterparts to avoid public places, as well as embrace online shopping.
  • The major retail categories winning amidst China’s mass-quarantine include grocery and cooking, home cleaning, personal care, medicine and electronics.
  • China is reportedly attempting to produce 530 million face-masks each day.
  • Pork prices jumped 135% in February as China’s CPI rose 5.2%.
  • The COVID-19 virus is reportedly paving way for a rise in demand for ethical goods. Luxury fashion retailers and start-ups are increasingly putting focus towards addressing global warming, reducing gas emissions, protecting the environment and removing single-use plastics.
  • Discount Stores are reportedly ‘still booming’ according to Coresight Research.
  • How should businesses adapt their China strategies around the COVID-19 outbreak? According to WWD, it’s a matter of postponing (not cancelling), shifting experiences online, ensuring a seamless checkout journey, engaging Chinese expats and leveraging CRM.
  • Jing Daily have published several compelling case studies for the best International Women’s Day campaigns, including from the likes of Neiwai, Net-A-Porter, & Other Stories, Chando and Tmall. Meanwhile, Chanel is in hot water for their IWD ad flop, with some Chinese netizens describing it as ‘misogynistic’.


  • Alibaba are hosting a number of events across Australia and NZ to introduce their eCommerce, cloud and payment solutions. Register to attend here.
  • For the first time in its 77-year history, IKEA is selling through a third party on Tmall.
  • The explosive growth of China’s male beauty market was undoubtedly one of the defining trends of 2019. However, it is a notoriously competitive market to crack.
  • Tmall Global sales jumped 52% YOY over February. International Women’s Day was a major sales driver, with niche beauty and personal care products in high demand.
  • Pinduoduo saw a 1000% sales jump in farming products such as seeds, fertilizers and sprinklers in February, as rural farmers in non COVID-19 affected areas scrambled to meet raised demand.
  • Pinduoduo have released their Q4 financial While revenues leaped 91% YOY, the US$1.55 billion was $40 million short of market predictions.
  • Amazon’s attempts to mimic Alibaba’s luxury sales platform approach is failing to harness momentum. Experts point to Amazon’s image issue, counterfeit challenges and their pursuit of the wrong target audiences. In similar news, Amazon last week signed their first client for their (Arguably HEMA-inspired) New Retail
  • Alibaba is partnering with Little Red Book to leverage their trusted product reviews.
  • Cross-border retailers are increasingly competing with Tmall Direct and domestic businesses, meanwhile often failing to truly engage with the Chinese consumer.
  • Premier Li Keqiang has called for the resumption of work in logistics businesses to ease the backlog of global supply chains and restart China’s economy.
  • China’s luxury shoppers – flush with cash from cancelled travel plans – are ‘revenge shopping’ and spending significant sums on luxury goods.
  • VIP shop’s 14% GMV growth in Q4, 2019 was 70% due to apparel
  • Gaming in China is on the rise, particularly mobile gaming. China Skinny have released a summary of how the most innovative brands are leveraging games to raise brand awareness, engage customers and sell product.

Digital Marketing and Technology

  • Bytedance has appointed a new chairman of its’ China business Zhang Lidong, as well as a new China CEO – Kelly Zhang Nan. The business also forecasted to reach 100K global employees by 2021. Several weeks ago, they also launched their new music streaming platform Resso in India.
  • Alipay will work with 50K independent software vendors over the next three years to make their payment platform a lot more like WeChat: most notably by supporting the development mini-programs and eCommerce stores.
  • Beijing-based autonomous delivery vehicle manufacturer Neolix is seeing a surge in demand from the likes of Alibaba, Meituan, Dianping and
  • Pandaily have identified Zoom, Alibaba’s DingTalk, WeChat Work, Bytedance’s Lark (Feishu) and Huawei’s Cloud WeLink as the best free remote collaboration platforms. Bytedance is also reportedly preparing a suite of ‘Google-like’ work collaboration software tools to overthrow Lark’s current user experience.
  • Grindr’s Chinese owner is reportedly selling the app for $608 million.

Travel & Tourism

  • The US have joined the long list of countries enforcing travel bans to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus – causing widespread ‘chaos‘ at US airports.
  • Bloomberg have released a summary of COVID-19’s impact on airline businesses.
  • Baicheng International Travel – an online travel agency backed by Alibaba – has declared insolvency as China’s tourism industry reels.
  • Canberra has announced an AU$2.4 billion health package to fight COVID-19.
  • Chinese airports have significantly tightened entry rules to fend off the virus.
  • C-Suite executives at airlines and travel companies are foregoing their annual salaries and bonuses to offset the hardships instilled by COVID-19.

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