After Mattel’s embarrassing closure of its flagship store, the House of Barbie, in Shanghai two years ago, the American toy maker seems to have learned a thing or two about the Chinese market.
Its newly launched “Violin Soloist” Barbie aims to target Chinese parents who want their daughters to be “geniuses,” just like any self-respecting tiger mom would. The doll has a traditional Barbie look – blonde, blue eyes and dressed in glamorous hot pink. In addition to her five-inch high heels, she even has a violin!
Recently, I was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal about how American toy-maker Mattel misread feminism in China. As the result, it had to close its flagship store, the House of Barbie, in Shanghai, and threw away over $30 million investment.
Since then, Mattel seemed to have learn a thing or two about the Chinese market. The Wall Street Journal article indicates that the company is making new efforts in China.
The Chinese toy and games market has been growing at 14% in the last five years. The demand will continue to be strong as growing Chinese middle class families want to give their children the best. And, they have the disposable incomes to do that.
There are still opportunities for Mattel to get it right in China. I will soon have an article on Forbes.com to comment on Mattel’s newly launched Barbie “Violin Soloist.” Stay tuned!
Recently, I was interviewed by Travel Weekly, a national newspaper of travel industry, on increasing Chinese travelers and how they affect the travel industry in the U. S. Below is an excerpt of my conversation with Diane Merlino, editor in chief of Travel Weekly PLUS:
Merlino: How do you define the Chinese middle class? Wang: Chinese middle class households earn between $10,000 and $60,000 a year, but those figures can be misleading because the cost of living in China is very different from what it is the West. In the U.S. you can’t even get by on $10,000, but in China $10,000 is the beginning of having a lot of purchasing power in certain areas, especially in smaller cities. In Shanghai, the cost of living is quite high; that’s why there is that range in income.
So, the rule of thumb I use is a family is considered middle class in China if the household has a third of its income available for discretionary spending.
Merlino: Give us an idea of the size of the Chinese middle class and the growth rate of that demographic. Wang: Five years ago, when my book first came out, the Chinese middle class was estimated at 250 million to 300 million people. Today, the middle class has reached an estimated 450 million people, and we’re projected to reach 800 million middle-class Chinese by 2025.
Merlino: How important is travel to the Chinese middle class?
Wang: A lot of Chinese have a desire to travel because China was closed 30 or 40 years ago. Very few people traveled during that time, but now that China is opening travel, to go see the world is a life goal for a lot of people. The younger generation, those in their 20s and 30s, are traveling a lot. If they have less money, they travel within China, but now when I travel around the world I see so many younger Chinese. It’s amazing. Continue reading China’s Middle Class: New Global Travelers
Eight years after Burger King first entered the China market in 2005, the world’s second largest burger chain restaurant has only 63 restaurants in the country, falling far short of its own plan of opening 250 to 300 restaurants by 2012.
Many analysts pointed to Burger King’s uphill battle with its competitors. Both Yum! Brands and McDonald’s entered China much earlier and both have established significant presence in the country. Yum! China has more than 4,000 KFCs and 750 Pizza Huts, in addition to its China-based units East Dawning and Little Sheep. McDonald’s China division has more than 1,500locations.
However, there is plenty of demand for more than two big American restaurant chains in China’s $29 billion fast food market, thanks to a growing Chinese middle class. Here are a few things Burger King can do to catch up:
Myth that Chinese Don’t Eat Beef
Burger King has failed to play up the advantages of its traditional beef dishes. Instead, it added chicken burgers, believing Chinese prefer chicken to beef. The reason many Chinese consume more pork and chicken is because they are more affordable and readily available. Chinese farmers typically raise pigs and chickens to sell in the market, while cows are used mainly for farming.