BEIJING | By the year 2020, private consumption will account for a 45% of the GDP (33% in 2010) becoming the main driver of growth of the Chinese economy. This significant increase will be due to a change in consumption patterns, as it is noticed in a report recently released by McKinsey consultancy group “Meet the 2020 Chinese consumer”. But how to fit consumption into the busy schedule of the ideal 2020 Chinese consumer?
Through e-commerce websites. According to the paper, spending behaviors will evolve, resulting in a very demanding consumer who will be willing to spend as much time as needed to make the right purchase. Indeed, online shopping allow consumers just to do this: getting any of the products they want in just one click, while comparing prices and the quality and diversity of goods offered at e-shopping sites. In a country as big as Europe and with scattered cities where usually walking distances are not so walking, sites like Taobao (China’s largest online shopping platform) are becoming increasingly popular. One can buy everything, from shampoo to clothes, food, home appliances and other items.
E-commerce is so convenient for the hard-working Chinese that sites like Taobao are used to purchase all kind of goods. The success is not exclusive to Taobao and small entrepreneurs eye the internet as the platform for running their businesses. The trend is spreading and its reaching the food industry with more and more companies starting websites aimed at providing delivery services from a wide range of restaurants. The site Ele.me (are you hungry?) is one of the cases mentioned by the official newspaper China Daily. It started as a small project by a university student in Shanghai in 2009. Now it covers more than 100 universities in cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Huangzhou.
The young entrepreneur seems to be in the good track. Giving these hungry and sophisticated consumers a wide range of options (menus from more than 6,000 restaurants), his more than 300,000 registered users order their meals at a cheaper price and usually without having to pay any delivery fee.
“The profit comes from commissions. We want to be the Taobao of the dining industry,” Zhang Xuhao, co-founder and chairman of ele.me explains. If the 2020 Chinese consumer is to be demanding and sophisticated internet has the tools to make the Chinese consumer happy. Zhang claims that through the website “customers can bookmark their favorite restaurants and comment on delivery speeds or make complaints.”
The Chinese government might be doing efforts to implement policies aimed at transforming consumer patterns and reaching a sustainable growth, but it seems that the very Chinese are taking an active role in changing the economic structure. Online shopping and ordering meals online seem to have become a new shopping style.