CCTV Interview: Chinese Spring Festival

I was interviewed on CCTV-America on Friday to discuss the gigantic human movement during the upcoming Chinese Spring Festival – 3.6 billion trips, according to an official estimate.

The Spring Festival, which will officially start on January 31, is the Chinese Lunar New Year. It usually lasts for at least two weeks. During this period, many businesses are closed, and people go home to visit their families or travel for vacation. It is like Christmas in this country.

China has over 260 million migrant workers. They will be going back to their hometowns or villages for the Chinese New Year. For upper middle class Chinese, they will be traveling to overseas. I have seen many Chinese coming to this country for vacation during the Spring Festival.

Still, 3.6 billion trips is a mind-boggling number. That means every single person, including infants and elders, will make 3 trips during the holidays, which seems very unlikely. Perhaps they have a different way to count trips.

Regardless, it is a good sign for the Chinese economy. The Chinese government wants China to move more toward domestic consumption. As Chinese have more income, they will travel more, which, in turn, contributes to a more “service-oriented economy. “

Why Some Brands Succeed While Others Struggle in China

I was invited to be on CCTV-America, the America bureau for China Central Television, to discuss China’s middle class and what it means to Western brands. Here is a clip:

Apparently, CCTV-America was launched last February in the United States. It broadcasts a daily program from its Washington DC production center.


My Interview on CNNMoney

This week, CNNMoney is running a series of articles about China. I was interviewed on the topic of China's growing middle class. It is a good thing that mainstream media has started to pay more attention to China.

Among the series, an article "US Companies Betting Big in China" showcased some of the most successful US companies in China:
  • Apple's sales in China reached $12 billion in 2011
  • KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco bell opened 656 new restaurants in China last year alone
  • Boeing predicts China's aircraft market will generate $200 billion revenue
While multinationals have made significant inroads to China, small and medium sized companies face entry barriers due to lack of resources. To address this problem, I will launch seminars later this year to help small and medium sized companies to take advantage of China's growing market. Stay tune!
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All the Jobs in China

I was quoted on The Daily, a new media for iPad, about Starbucks and PriceWaterHouseCoopers massive expansions in China: “All the jobs in China:  2 companies looking to hire from Asian giant’s huge middle class”:

Yesterday, accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers trumpeted plans to expand massively in Asia by hiring 15,000 people in China and Hong Kong over the next five years.

In fact, the firm said it will bring thousands of jobs to Chinese college graduates in the next few months, according to Dow Jones.

Starbucks, meanwhile, announced its own blistering expansion, vowing to more than triple the number of its mermaid- themed coffee shops in China by 2015. It’s aiming to get up to 1,500 locations in four years.

And here is where I was quoted:

Still, that doesn’t mean everything is gravy in China. According to Helen Wang, consultant and author of “The Chinese Dream,” even with companies bringing new jobs, China’s middle ranks are as worried about the future as we are.

“They have extreme anxiety because they don’t know how long this window of opportunity will be open,” she told The Daily. “They worry when the optimism will be gone, and if they don’t make enough money, the government won’t take care of them like before. So they grab what they can grab.”

Read the full article “All the Jobs in China” here.

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Boston Review: When the Chinese Government Will Throw Away the Communist Hat?

Helen H. Wang

This article is part of China’s Other Revolution, a forum on political and social change in China.

No one in China believes in communism anymore. The Communist Party has abandoned Communist ideology. A friend of mine joked that the Chinese government wears a Polo shirt and Nike shoes, but still has a communist hat. The Party is simply a ruling outfit that practices what seems to be quasi-capitalism.

To a certain degree, I agree with Edward Steinfeld that China has gone through profound changes in recent years. However, China’s political system is ill fitted to address the needs of an increasingly pluralized society. The government has not allowed any political opposition that could become a rival of the Communist Party. Continue reading

The Chinese Dream Featured in the Front Page of China Daily

My whirlwind book tour to China in June generated major media exposure. China Daily has a front page article about my book The Chinese Dream.

For a PDF version, see here.

In addition, I am pleased to see that China Daily even featured it on its front page.

“Author Helen H. Wang says the country’s growing middle class holds the key to deepening trust between the West and China and realizing the value of ‘our global oneness’. Chitralekha Basu reports.”

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China Consumer Insight with iTV-Asia

I was very honored to share the stage with Tom Doctorroff, Asia-Pacific CEO of JWT Advertising, at iTV-Asia’s China Consumer Insight event in Shanghai.

As the Chinese middle class grows, China’s consumption market is expected to reach $16 trillion by 2020, according to a Credit Suisse report. Who are these new consumers? What are their characteristics? How can multinationals reach them? These were the subject of our panel discussion.

Below are the highlights:

  • Chinese consumers are fundamentally Chinese. Certain characteristics stay true despite recent dramatic changes. For example, Chinese culture is collective-oriented. People tend to measure their worth according what society expects of them, rather than what they want for themselves. Chinese consumers are more willing to buy products that enhance their social status. Western companies can charge premier prices for such products.
  • Young people are becoming more individualistic, and they want to express themselves. However, once they get married, they are more likely to follow the conventional collectivist mindset. Marketers need to understand this and craft their messages to reach different age groups.
  • Although there is a lot of optimism, many people are living under extreme anxiety. Part of the reason for anxiety is peer pressure.  They see some people become very rich while others remain poor. They are worried they will be left behind, which would be humiliating.

To give some context, I define the Chinese middle class as those who earn an annual income from $10,000 to $60,000. They are mostly urban professionals and entrepreneurs. A rule of thumb is that a middle-class household has one-third of its income for discretionary spending.

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