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China market continues to evolve, more segmented marketing needed

Daryl Guppy
Daryl Guppy9/4/2017 08:00 AM GMT+08  • 6 min read
China market continues to evolve, more segmented marketing needed
(Sept 4): Singles Day (Nov 11) is still a way off, but China’s Valentine’s Day (Qixi) has just passed. Both events provide some insights into the changing nature of married and unmarried life in China.
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(Sept 4): Singles Day (Nov 11) is still a way off, but China’s Valentine’s Day (Qixi) has just passed. Both events provide some insights into the changing nature of married and unmarried life in China.

Singles Day is a modern commercial construct designed to sell products. It is called Singles Day, not because it is aimed at unmarried people, but because the four ones in the date — 11/11 — are all “singles”. It is clever marketing.

Qixi, or Qiqiao, Festival, has a longer tradition, dating to the Han dynasty, and is referenced in the Three Hundred Songs, or Shijing. Like many traditions, it has become commercialised. The day comes from a traditional love story — between Zhinu, a weaver girl, and Niu lang, a cowherd. Their love was not allowed, so they were banished to opposite sides of the Silver River. Once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, a flock of magpies would form a bridge to reunite the lovers for one day.

Now, once a year, social media, TV and radio are swamped by advertising and online deals that range from the truly romantic to those with a high yech factor. This wave of potential marital obscures some significant changes in Chinese society. Shanghai-based marketing research firm China Skinny has put some figures around these changes.

The number of Chinese adults living alone has grown 16% since 2012 to reach around 77 million. By 2021, this will rise to 92 million, according to Euromonitor. China’s much-publicised shortage of 30 million females has been exacerbated by “leftover” women in urban areas. Their requirements and evaluation of Mr Right have become more rigorous and demanding, particularly as careers are increasingly more important.

Singles are mainly found in Tier- 1 cities. Women in Shanghai average 30 years old when they first marry. This is up from an average age of 27 in 2011. This average hides the fact that there are many more women over 30 getting married for the first time, and this is changing the concept of “leftover” women.

It also has a significant impact on the consumer preferences of the older unmarried woman. She is less likely to be overwhelmed by the latest cute heart-shaped handbag or the saccharine advertising and fluffy stuffed toys that appeal more to those in their mid-twenties.

In universities — where many Chinese traditionally meet their spouses — 70% remain single after graduation. While nagging parents remain a constant method of post-university matchmaking, there is a rise of more pleasant web-based alternatives.

The after-marriage market is expanding as couples are twice as likely to get divorced than they were a decade ago. The “Never more ready to fall in love again” campaign in Western markets directed at older clients and divorcees has, as yet, no equivalent in China. It is a market niche waiting to be filled.

The single audience is increasingly well catered for. Hot pot chain Haidilao offers solo diners a choice of large, cuddly soft toys to join them for dinner to help them feel less lonely. Japanese chain Muji has introduced smaller rice cookers, ovens and kettles aimed at Chinese singles. F&B brands are increasingly offering single-serve formats for dinner and other meals. The rapid rise of food delivery has been largely driven by singles, with 65% of food delivery orders on Meituan-Dianping going to singles.

The China market continues to evolve and more carefully segmented product and services marketing is needed.

The rapid and strong breakout above the resistance level on the Shanghai Index introduces a very significant change to the market trend. This is a strong breakout above a long-term triple-top pattern. It shows that the old guard has been overcome. The market is now dominated by new buyers and investors who make new profit calculations based on an entry around 3,290.

The first upside target is near 3,360, and this has already been achieved. The longer-term upside target is near 3,640. This was a previous long-term resistance level created in November 2015 and January 2016.

The resistance level developed because many people entered the market near the 3,290 level. Unfortunately, the market fell away from this level and many people did not sell. When the index gets near to the 3,290 level again, these people sell so they can get a break-even result. This selling happens every time the market gets near to the 3,290 level, and this selling creates the resistance level.

When most of the people who entered the market near 3,290 have sold, then the resistance level is broken because there are no more sellers near 3,290. New people have entered the market and they hold on, hoping the market will go up. Because these new people will not sell near 3,290, it means that other people who want to enter the market must pay a higher price to get in. This helps establish a new uptrend.

However, this current breakout comes with a warning. The breakout is very rapid. It is inevitable that the market will develop a pullback and retest support levels. This is necessary to establish a stronger and more stable uptrend. The pullback represents a buying opportunity.

Trend strength is confirmed with the steady and consistent degree of separation in the long-term group of Guppy Multiple Moving Averages. Trend continuation is confirmed when the value of the upper edge of the long-term GMMA moves above 3,290. Further confirmation comes when the lower edge of the longterm GMMA moves above 3,265. This combination of features will provide good support for when the Shanghai Index develops pullback behaviour.

The uptrend breakout is confirmed, but the nature of the new trend is not yet apparent. Traders watch for the way the pullback and rebound develop because this will show the character of the new uptrend. Between October 2015 and January 2016, the Shanghai Index showed volatile activity between 3,360 and 3,640, so investors can expect the same type of behaviour to develop again.

Daryl Guppy is an international financial technical analysis expert and special consultant to AxiCorp. He has provided weekly Shanghai Index analysis for mainland Chinese media for more than a decade. Guppy appears regularly on CNBC Asia and is known as ‘The Chart Man’. He is a national board member of the Australia China Business Council.

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