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Online Shopping Neighborhoods in China


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This report is about how and why young Chinese women are using e- commerce and social media to make their shopping choices.
We conducted ethnographic research with 10 young women who are avid online clothing shoppers in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chongqing.
This report is all about young women and clothes, but the conditions and drivers behind the behavior have implications well beyond cheap and cheerful online fast fashion.
Because what we see is that for young consumers in China, the starting point for shopping is shifting from advertising, brands, and retailers… to people.

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Online Shopping Neighborhoods in China

  1. 1. ONLINE SHOPPINGNEIGHBORHOODSHow young Chinese consumersnavigate the online marketplaceJay Mark CaplanHelen Yu
  3. 3. Part 1:INTRODUCTION
  4. 4. In China,the neighborhoodwhere you go shoppingsays a lot about whoyou want to be.
  5. 5. For example… Shanghai Beijing ChongqingGrand Gateway Xidan University City
  6. 6. Choosing districts to shophelps young consumerslook, learn, and exploredifferent classes andcultures, even if theydon’t know exactly whatthey’re shopping for.
  7. 7. But what about shopping online?
  8. 8. This report is about how and why young Chinese women are using e!commerce and social media to make their shopping choices.We conducted ethnographic research with 10 young women who areavid online clothing shoppers in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chongqing.This report is all about young women and clothes, but the conditionsand drivers behind the behavior have implications well beyond cheapand cheerful online fast fashion.Because what we see is that for young consumers inChina, the starting point for shopping is shifting fromadvertising, brands, and retailers… to people.
  9. 9. Part 2:ONLINE SHOPPING
  10. 10. For young Chinesewomen, shopping onlineis not a channel choice.It’s a hobby.
  11. 11. Although I seldom go shoppingnow, in fact, I am shoppingeveryday... Every morning, the first thing for me is toopen my browser and click the websites inmy favorite shopping folders one by one,browsing blogs and favorite Taobao shops.I check if there is anything new, and findthe things that I want to buy. Online shopping is the happiestmoment for me! ! Guoguo, 26 Beijing
  12. 12. ECOMMERCE = NEW LIFE HOBBYShopping any time, anywhereAvid online shoppers don’t just shop for the clothes, they shopbecause they love the experience. I love shopping on Taobao. I use Taobao mobile app on the way to work,at lunch check the sales at all my favorite shops, and buys loads of gifts forfamily as an excuse to shop more. I love the moment of going to work andseeing my desk covered with parcels. -  Linda, 24, Shanghai
  13. 13. What is theadvantage of onlineversus offline?
  15. 15. ECOMMERCE = MANY NEW CHOICESDiversity of products unavailable offlineMost young consumers shop online to save money, but increasinglythey go online to find products they cannot get locally, especiallycheap clothes in premium design styles, and branded goodsimported from abroad.“Up to a quarter of e-commerce demand in China is, in fact, for productsthat consumers cannot find in physical stores—a circumstance rather uniqueto China, where… the country’s immensity limits the coverage of manyphysical retailers.” -  Boston Consulting Group
  16. 16. Too manychoices?
  17. 17. ECOMMERCE = HARD TO FILTERLong and unreliable search processOnline shoppers have a serious pain point when it comes tonavigating through the clutter of options, unable to find the rightkeywords for products, and overloaded with way too many vendorsoffering similar stuff.“Sometimes I try to search on Taobao, but it’s so hard to figure out thekeywords. Even when I get it, there are so many vendors claiming to sell thesame thing. Usually I just go back to big retailers like Vancl.” -  Faye, 26, Beijing
  18. 18. Search woman, coat on Tabao, there Even using brand name as keywords,are over 800,000 results in 100 pages still there are a lot of shops using theto view. same product picture.
  19. 19. How can young consumers gain theadvantage of the diversity and abundanceof choice online, filtered in an orderly way sothey can browse and explore just like at anoffline shopping destination?
  21. 21. ONLINE SHOPPINGNEIGHBORHOODS =Online destinations created bysocial media sharing whereconsumers can explore acurated selection of choices.
  23. 23. TAOBAO HERS.COM RENREN J MEILISHUO WOW BBS forum SNS! based Social Retailer! shopping based network
  24. 24. ONLINE SHOPPING NEIGHBORHOODS ARE ALL ABOUTPHOTOSPhoto content from other consumers creates thetangible feel of wandering around a neighborhood.Photos present the place, the people, the lifestyle,and the choices in vivid context.Providing an ongoing stream of true- to- life photocontent is the key feature of online neighborhoods.
  26. 26. “I spend several hours on Meilishuo browsing every day.They update all the time, so there is always new stuff.”“The online shops never have enough photos. I want tosee all the product details, and how they match withother products, and where the model wears it, and how Ican use it in my life.”
  27. 27. REAL LIFE CONTEXT:Honest and relevant“I hate those Korean- looking fakemodels, I want to see the model inreal situations!” IDEAS FOR USAGE: Show the possibilities “I like when the models have their own personal style, you can get great ideas from their outfits.”
  28. 28. ANY SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BECOME AN ONLINE NEIGHBORHOODFrom official sites to popular SNS, there is always potential for young consumers to share their shopping choices. Social media on Social shopping Ecommerce links ecommerce sites networks on social media Renren Taobao WOW Meilishuo Douban Guang Taobao Mogujie VANCL Star Voguemate 55BBS
  29. 29. Why do young Chineseconsumers needOnline ShoppingNeighborhoods?
  30. 30. Part 4:KEY FEATURES
  31. 31. 1. SOCIAL AUTHENTICITYTHE RIGHT PEOPLEExclusive group with clear relevance thatprovides true! to! life shopping guidance. Notanonymous crowdsourcing, establish the social status andlifestyle shoppers can associate with products and styles.
  33. 33. TENSIONYoung consumers want to express their personal style by purchasing unique things,but they also want to fit in with the right group and learn the ‘right’ way to dress.Social authenticity means showing users choices curated by a groupof peers whose identity fits with their style agenda, to establish trustand relatable life context.LIKE OFFLINE: Learn from others in the context of real daily life occasionsBETTER THAN OFFLINE: Easily close the aspiration distance and follow anygroup you like without feeling shy.
  34. 34. EXPERIENCE THE AUTHENTIC LIFESTYLE I used to follow a Hongren called Tokyopanda. She isn’t like other Hongren whoare only showing clothes and products. I think she writes her blog with her whole lifeand whole heart. I can see where she travels, what delicious foods she eats, whatinteresting small accessories she buys... I enjoy reading her like I am there too.
  35. 35. Different networks establish different kinds of social authenticity:Renren: “I use Renren to see what the normal girls wear, to chooseoutfits that are appropriate for the office.”55BBS: “Those rich youth live abroad, they know lots of foreignbrands and recommend them.”Douban: “Creative youth who love arts and life, we share the sameinterests and the same vintage style.”VANCL Star: “I check the fit on others who have the same body typeas me to make sure the clothes will fit me too.”
  36. 36. The further users are from their aspiredgroup, the more they rely on socialmedia to establish social authenticity.Guoguo has been shopping online for six years, andconsiders herself an ecommerce expert.She follows online celebrities to find budgetalternatives that represent premium style.“[She] wears a lot of luxury brands,she has decent taste. I trust herproducts reflect the trends and stylesfrom big brands.”
  37. 37. KEY INSIGHT:Young Chinese women want to be special, but not too special! Theywant to explore new choices that express their individuality, and yet ultimately wantto feel like they belong and the choices they are making are right.KEY IMPLICATION:Community matters, and make it exclusive! Building customer communityand helping them share lifestyle and product choices can create important socialcontext for your brand. Just make sure sharing isn’t random: the point is not to helpanybody and everybody get together, but to build the identity of an exclusive andattractive group that your customers want to join.
  38. 38. 2. CULTURAL FILTERINGFOR BETTER BROWSINGOrganize products by cultural categories insteadof product categories, connecting selections of productsaround styles, outfits, occasions, celebrities, etc.
  40. 40. TENSIONYoung consumers want to try tons of new things, but without strong categoryexpertise, don’t know exactly what they are looking for, or how to put it all together.They want cultural inspiration and guidance that connects them with new visions ofthemselves, searchable by influences they are familiar with.Cultural filtering provides a relatable starting point for browsing andexploring for young consumers based on cultural outcomes.LIKE OFFLINE: Shop multiple retailers at one accessible destination.BETTER THAN OFFLINE: Browse by culture across many retailers at once.
  41. 41. CULTURAL FILTERING QUOTE: The vintage style is quite hot recently, I heard everywhere. I log on to Meilishuo tocheck the vintage albums, and it s like oh I see, this is vintage and they even havedifferent categories in vintage style. I can make my own vintage look from here.
  42. 42. MEILISHUO:•  By Theme: User! generated ‘magazines’ collected around a wide variety of themes, such as occasion and popular styles•  By Influencer: Choices searchable by online celebrity ‘hongren’YOKA:•  By Style: Editors pick out the latest global trends and select similar items from the mall with links.•  By Outfit: Editors pick out some inspired looks from global snapshots website, and select similar items from the mall with links.
  43. 43. KEY INSIGHT:Young online shoppers want to browse outcomes, not products! Theyare still experimenting with their styles and want visions of potential selves with aready! made package of products attached.KEY IMPLICATION:Provide vast selection, but organize it around influences relevantand inspiring to your audience! Know the cultural influences that matter toyour target, and present selection smartly around making inspiration a reality.Remember, it’s not about values and ideas: young consumers want tangiblelifestyle results.
  44. 44. 3. SHARABLE SHOPPINGFOR INFLUENCE ACHIEVEMENTEnable online shoppers to share their choices andinfluence peers to add extra emotional benefits andexperience incentives to shopping online.
  46. 46. TENSIONYoung consumers love shopping online, and want an emotionally! satisfying socialshopping experience.They want a more thrilling and involved life habit that provides a sense ofaccomplishment and belonging.Sharable shopping makes online shopping a more satisfying hobbyby adding group engagement and influence power to the process.LIKE OFFLINE: Makes shopping a sharable leisure activityBETTER THAN OFFLINE: More involvement, more accomplishment, more influence!
  47. 47. GROUP BUY FOR STATUS, NOT JUST SAVINGS I organize group buys, and buy stuff for my friends... They consider me an onlineexpert, and I love that! They know I recommend the right styles and always have thebest deals.
  48. 48. DIYIDATUAN:•  Exclusive buyer membership: Enforces strict filtering of new entries, including a test! Once admitted, participants have first access to great deals and limited editions.MOGUJIE:•  Group Buy Voting: Users can ‘like’ potential group buys, and if enough users vote, the sale goes on and they get exclusive first access to the limited item.
  49. 49. KEY INSIGHT:Shopping sharing is about influence, not intimacy! Most online shoppersdon’t care about making close friends in these networks. What they want is groupparticipation, the opportunity to influence an audience of peers, and a feeling ofexclusivity from being part of a shopping! savvy group.KEY IMPLICATION:Purchase is a new touch point for social engagement! Consumers don’tneed you to help them post pictures of themselves, and this is just one form ofsocial sharing, mostly for aspiring web celebrities. Add value and social statusbased on the group buy model with exclusive sales and limited items that rewardparticipation, and allow participants to pass great choices on to their peers.
  50. 50. Part 5:SUMMARY
  51. 51. ONLINE SHOPPING NEIGHBORHOODS are online destinations created bysocial media sharing where consumers can explore a curated selection of choices.ONLINE SHOPPING NEIGHBORHOODS meet the emerging needs of high!involvement online shoppers in 2 ways:1.  Filtering the right choices that meet their needs and expectations2.  Creating a deluge of photo content and purchase choices to browse and get steady daily doses of new ideas.
  52. 52. WHY DO YOUNG CONSUMERS NEED ONLINE NEIGHBORHOODS?1.  SOCIAL AUTHENTICITY – ESTABLISH THE STATUS ATTACHED TO PRODUCTSYoung Chinese women want to be special, but not too special, and exclusive groups ofcontent creators establish social context and lifestyle associations for clothes.2. CULTURAL FILTERING! BROWSE PRODUCTS BY CULTURAL INFLUENCESYoung Chinese women want to shop for desired results, not specific products. Provide vastselection organized around influences that inspire your audience.3. SHARABLE SHOPPING – INFLUENCE PEERS FOR ACCOMPLISHMENT SENSEYoung consumers want to influence others, so provide plenty of ways to share purchasechoices among peers.
  53. 53. Thanks!China Youthology  Brand!Youth Connection Consultancyemail: