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Global Insights

Looking East

Consumers in Asia are spending with a vengeance.

Danger and Opportunity

The Chinese characters standing together for the word "crisis" are danger and opportunity. While a crisis may present fear, danger, and hardship, opportunity reveals itself eventually. Caution is still the overwhelming sentiment globally, but another force has emerged and is moving consumers: the desire to make up for lost time. While spikes in sales may be temporary, they provide an optimistic glimpse into what a global recovery might look like: slow, cautious, and arduous - but on the horizon nonetheless. Here are some of the trends shaping China.

Travel Bug

The Chinese booking platform C-Trip is offering customers the opportunity to book trips in advance with free cancellations, should the travel ban be extended. As of April, cruise bookings for 2021 are 75 percent higher than they were in 2019. In a poll, 60 percent of Chinese travelers said they plan to splurge and spend more than US$1500 on their next trip.

Revenge Shopping

As brick-and-mortar shops begin opening back up, luxury and automotive sales are surging. Chow Tai Fook Jewelry Group has reopened 85 percent of their stores and Apple has opened 100 percent, with customers queuing around the corner. Tesla's sales in China grew 450 percent month-over-month in March, though globally the automotive industry has suffered greatly. China's retail car sales rose 14 percent during the week of April 7-15, marking the first increase reported since the onset of the pandemic.

Silver Surfers

Perhaps the most smile-inducing development in China has been the rise of "silver surfers" - elderly consumers adopting technology. According to Alibaba, the number of grocery orders placed by users born in the 1960's was four times higher than normal. Miss Fresh, a popular meal delivery service, claims users over age 40 have risen by 237 percent during the pandemic. All major platforms are now planning to launch senior-friendly versions of their offerings, including live-streaming, healthcare and shopping.

What does this mean for the West?

While we certainly can't make an apples to apples comparison, these trends offer comforting foresight of things to come. By nature, marketers must remain opportunistic. Let's prepare now to reach new customers, on new platforms, with new and innovative solutions to meet pent-up demand.

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