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China is the world’s trendsetter when it comes to commerce

More physical retail stores are using QR codes on products to link to social media apps

China is setting commerce trends for the world as Chinese tech giants and global brands alike are trying new ideas first in cities such as Shenzhen, before moving across China and beyond.

These ideas include new formats that blend content and commerce such as livestreaming sales broadcasts, gamified physical retail stores and virtual worlds that invite brand participation, according to the ‘Transcendent Retail: APAC’ report by Wunderman Thompson Intelligence and Jing Daily.

“The great willingness to experiment with making shopping more relevant and entertaining for consumers is yielding results with far-reaching implications,” said Sky Canaves, content director at Jing Daily.

What did the report find?

  • Live commerce took off during the 2020 lockdowns, when more than a million viewers tuned in to watch Alibaba’s Tmall’s 618 shopping festival livestream. The report says it is moving up the value chain to luxury and crossing borders as brands target overseas markets.

  • More physical retail stores are using QR codes on products to link to social media apps and garner ‘social currency’, while web-only retailers are investing in pop-up stores, leveraging off their social media followings.

  • Brands are collaborating with the biggest gaming platforms to launch virtual possessions from clothing to cars.

  • For example, Aston Martin, Maserati and Tesla have all offered virtual cars in the massively popular Game for Peace. With almost 518 million gamers in the country, China is the world’s biggest gaming market where 56% of mobile gamers are female and 47% are under 30 years of age.

  • China’s seniors are the last untapped demographic when it comes to commerce, but post-pandemic 81% of Chinese consumers over 55 are now more comfortable using digital technology.

  • This has led to the rise of the senior influencer, with one example being Grandma Wang Who Only Wears High Heels, an 80-year-old key opinion leader with over 16 million followers on Douyin.

  • 80% of Chinese people say they intend to shop more on social media platforms in the future, while 88% of Thais, 78% of Indians and 69% of Indonesians say they do. The numbers of Australians and Japanese intending to shop on social media are lower, at 45% and 25% respectively.

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