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Mar 16 2015

Wired women: the $3tn women powering China's tech boom


China’s 115 million upper middle class women are driving ecommerce and social media in China, outspending their US equivalents by double on the biggest shopping days of the year


By Jemima Kiss

Read the story on The Guardian



“Women hold up half the sky,” Chairman Mao once said. In the Chinese digital economy the same is true, with a newly empowered middle class of wealthy, well educated women who live and breathe social media and online shopping, spending $3tn annually in China alone.


The average Chinese ‘wired woman’, according to research presented by Evelina Lye, SapientNitro’s head of marketing for Asia Pacific told SXSW on Sunday, typically own as many as five devices each. This group of around 115 million women are aged 25-35, half if them are mothers, 75% are college graduates and 87% are in employment.


The Chinese tech ecosystem looks very different to the rest of the world, with a domestic market that has become very powerful in the past three years; WeChat is ubiquitous, used for everything from taxi cab fares to messaging friends, but for every household name in western technology there are ten viable Chinese services.


Singles day is China’s equivalent to black Friday or cyber Monday, but generates far, far more money. In 2014 Chinese spent $9.34bn in 24 hours; for comparison Americans spent $4.16bn on black Friday and cyber Monday combined. Billionaire Alibaba boss Jack Ma personally thanked China’s women on national TV for their involvement; the biggest selling category was beauty products, many of which were half price. China went straight to mobile, and also went straight to commence rather than building shopping malls.


As for censorship, for the more mundane uses of retail and social media most Chinese aren’t concerned, said Jonathan Koh of BBH Shanghai. China has always had censorship, he said, and there’s a language among citizens that acknowledges it; many call the government the Ministry of Truth.


China’s most famous memes:


  • Brother Sharp is a homeless man who went viral in 2010 when a very large number of women in China decided he was hot. He ended up on the catwalk for Dior. It could not be more Derelicte.
  • ‘Shai’ is the trend for showing off, so bringing back thousands of dollars worth of luxury clothes, accessories and beauty products and then ‘unboxing’ and sharing them online, sometimes with the receipt.
  • ‘Human flesh search’ is the vigilante movement that began in 2006/7 when a woman posted a video of herself killing a cat with a stiletto. Now, requests to help find a husband’s mistress and taken up by groups of real world vigilantes.
  • Armpit selfies.
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