A hol­i­day that’s red-hot for lovers and re­tail­ers

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By WANG ZHUOQIONG and MENG JING

It’s that time of year when there is an ea­ger­ness to sur­prise loved ones with gifts and greet­ings. Yes, Valen­tine’s Day, which falls on Feb 14, is mak­ing its mark on buy­ing habits.

Zhou Yao, mar­ried for five years, re­ceived a NanoCare fa­cial steamer from her hus­band.

“Chi­nese people are of­ten too shy to ex­press love or af­fec­tion to their loved ones. Valen­tine’s Day serves as a per­fect oc­ca­sion,” she said. “Gift-giv­ing is not a must, but re­ceiv­ing a gift makes me feel warm and cared for.”

Chi­nese ro­man­tics are in­creas­ingly buy­ing pre­mium choco­late and other con­fec­tionar­ies for the ro­man­tic day, so it is a “sweet” sea­son for some man­u­fac­tur­ers, ac­cord­ing to Ja­son Yu, gen­eral man­ager of Kan­tar World­panel, a global re­searcher of buy­ing habits.

Many men take their date out for a nice meal. Izzie Huang, mar­ket­ing man­ager with Din­ingCity, a high-end restau­rant guild web­site, said medium-range deals — priced around 500 yuan ($82) for two people — are the best sell­ers, while those cost­ing more are less at­trac­tive.

Be­cause of the govern­ment’s on­go­ing aus­ter­ity cam­paign to curb lux­ury spend­ing with pub­lic funds, sales of high-end goods and din­ing at lux­ury restaurants have slumped, Huang said. About 70 per­cent of their deals are booked by women and are paid for by their men.

“Chi­nese women put more thought into plan­ning the spe­cial day than men do,” she said.

Chi­nese e-re­tail­ers, who it can strongly be ar­gued in­vented Sin­gles’ Day and suc­cess­fully turned Nov 11 into the coun­try’s big­gest on­line shop­ping car­ni­val, also couldn’t re­sist the op­por­tu­nity to cash in on the spe­cial oc­ca­sion, even one at­tract­ing non-sin­gles.

Sta­tis­tics from e- com­merce re­tailer Ama­zon China show the num­ber of men who look for Valen­tines’ gifts for their fe­male part­ners is three times that

We see a trend that Valen­tine’s Day is in­creas­ingly im­por­tant to young Chi­nese con­sumers.” SPOKESMAN CHOW TAI FOOK JEW­ELRY GROUP LTD

of women who look for gifts for men.

The most pop­u­lar gifts at Ama­zon China are clothes, hand­bags, lug­gage and elec­tron­ics.

Ac­cord­ing to mar­ket­place web­site Taobao, flow­ers and chocolates are still the main­stream gifts for the spe­cial day, but their pop­u­lar­ity is de­creas­ing with more people look­ing for some­thing spe­cial for their loved ones.

Taobao said pur­chases of flow­ers are es­ti­mated to de­crease to 6.12 per­cent of all items bought for Valen­tine’s Day.

Tai­lor-made and per­son­al­ized gifts stand out as the new hot op­tions for the lovers’ day.

Nearly 70 per­cent of people said at an on­line fo­rum of Taobao said they would like to have a cus­tom-made gift for Valen­tine’s Day.

A spe­cially made coin with the cou­ple’s photo on it, a cu­pid train ticket say­ing it trav­els be­tween their re­spec­tive hearts and a box of con­doms shaped like Fer­rero Rocher chocolates are the top three pop­u­lar Valen­tine’s gifts at Taobao.

Taobao and Tmall, two leading on­line mar­ket­places owned by Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd, have teamed up with the Nether­lands con­sulate gen­eral to al­low on­line shop­pers to pre-or­der Dutch tulips, which are ex­pected to be plucked on Feb 10 in the Nether­lands and de­liv­ered to cus­tomers’ doorsteps on Feb 14.

Brian Hui, vice-pres­i­dent of Ama­zon China, said young people are the ma­jor cus­tomers for e-com­merce web­sites in China.

“Those who shop on­line are the ex­actly same group of people who would like to cel­e­brate Valen­tine’s Day in China,” he said.

Hui from Ama­zon China said that tech-savvy young Chi­nese are very com­fort­able shop­ping on­line and tend to make e-com­merce web­sites their top chan­nel for find­ing Valen­tine’s Day gifts be­cause of the con­ve­nience of on­line shop­ping.

A spokesman at Chow Tai Fook Jew­elry Group Ltd said gem-set prod­ucts in flo­ral shapes and heart shapes are most pop­u­lar.

“As young buyer group con­sider Valen­tine’s Day more se­ri­ously than other age groups, our pro­mo­tion fo­cuses on on­line chan­nels.”

“We see a trend that Valen­tine’s Day is in­creas­ingly im­por­tant to young Chi­nese con­sumers,” the spokesman said.

Mao Ajing, an e- com­merce an­a­lyst with the Bei­jing-based re­search firm Analysys In­ter­na­tional, said pro­vid­ing tai­lor-made and cre­ative gifts are one of the unique ad­van­tages that on­line plat­forms pos­sess, com­pared with brick-and­mor­tar stores.

She said Valen­tine’s Day is not a shop­ping event as big as the Nov 11 Sin­gles’ Day shop­ping spree be­cause it is too close to China’s Spring Fes­ti­val.

“A lot of people have to be fru­gal be­cause they have al­ready spent a lot be­fore the fes­ti­val.

“In ad­di­tion, with couri­ers and de­liv­ery people still in the mood to cel­e­brate the Chi­nese New Year, there is no guar­an­tee of de­liv­ery. But it is cer­tainly be­com­ing an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant event for e-com­merce play­ers,” Mao said.

New­ly­wed Zhang Jing, a 32-year-old, bought a hand­bag from Taobao us­ing her hus­band’s ac­count. “He wanted to give me a sur­prise. But he was not sure what I would like. So I am glad I can choose my own gift,” she said.

In re­turn, she pur­chased a choco­late with their names on it from an on­line ser­vice. “But I was told the gift would not ar­rive on time be­cause of lo­gis­tics chal­lenges af­ter the week­long Spring Fes­ti­val,” she said. Con­tact the writ­ers at wangzhuo­qiong@chi­nadaily. and Mengjing@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

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