Tuesday, November 12, 2013

China Pushes U.S. Out of the Way

First Car Sales, Now China's Online Sales Break All Records During Single's Day. 

Do you look at the relentless marketing efforts behind Valentine's Day with suspicion? I do. But no matter what we think, we are still obligated to spend money on our significant-other every year or else risk being placed in the dog house.
Colorful Image of a banner ad for the Cinco de Mayo celebrations with two Corona beers in between the Corona logo
Cinco de Mayo Celebration
Then, how about the fact that Cinco de Mayo celebrates a scrimmage between the Mexican and French armies of no more relevance than the battle of El Alamo? Yet, Cinco de Mayo is now marketed as Independence Day and a great opportunity to consume Corona, the Mexican beer.
But have you heard about Single's Day? I guess that in the absence of a "Couple's Day", also known as Valentine's Day here in the US, the Chinese have opted for a more appropriate form of celebrating consumption. It is all about loving thyself and showing it with a purchase of say sneakers.
This last November 11, the Chinese celebrated Single's Day by shattering all online sales records for a single day. To put this in perspective, by midday sales had already doubled the highest Cyber Monday record from the US. Yes, our best attempt at consuming stuff online, Cyber Monday, was no match for this year's flock of single Chinese looking to show themselves some love.
For those unsure about what Cyber Monday is, simply look at it as the Monday after Black Friday when shoppers go online rather than the stores to buy Christmas presents.
As if this was not impressive enough, consider the fact that China hovers closely behind the US on yearly online sales. This creates a feeling of having to constantly look at the rear-view mirror, which is reminiscent of 2009 when the US finally gave up the lead in new car sales to the eastern powerhouse.
Aerial photo of a traffic jam on a roundabout in a Chinese city
China Leads in Car Sales
So what's next? We are no longer the same fat cats who showed the Mini Cooper driving Europeans what the pleasure of rushing through the open road without limitations was like. Now, the Chinese are the leaders. While they have chosen to mostly create traffic jams rather than to hit US Route 66, they are consuming more cars than even the mighty US.
Now, we are also close to no longer being kings of shopping. Within a year, we will lose the online crown. Soon after, we shall give up our lead on total retail sales. But for the latter, we still have a few months to enjoy the top.
The Chinese call themselves communists but behave more like capitalists than the Obama administration or the state of California. This has truly been an incredible performance by a country with lots of upside left since there are millions in China who still live under the poverty level. Over the next few decades, China will continue to gain at every metric. The US on the other hand, will probably have to sit watching from the sidelines as our baby boomers reduce their economic footprint. Keep an eye on the events and remain aware that this is a historic moment.

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