This week in the news, a new study examines the Chinese provinces with the fastest growth in internet use, a jewelry company hopes Chinese shoppers will buy diamonds online, Jaguar Land Rover will cut prices on several models in China amid a government probe, Ritz-Carlton showcases its commitment to service with an acrobatic performance, and the growing demand for chocolate in China and the rest of Asia is causing cocoa prices to skyrocket.
China now has the largest number of internet users with 632 million people online. A new study by Exane BNP Paribas has found that internet use in the central and inner provinces of China have the highest growth rates and still have the most room to grow. In fact, the provinces of Jianxi, Yunnan, Guizhou, Qinghai, Anhui, and Henan all had internet-user growth rates of over 15 percent in 2013. The coastal provinces have the highest internet penetration rates, which is no surprise, as these provinces are home to China’s first tier cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou. The cities with the slowest growth rates in new internet users were Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang with rates of 4.8 percent, 3.6 percent, and 3.4 percent respectively.
Indian jewelry company, Vummidi Bangaru Jewellers, has partnered with AVT Lifestyle Products to launch Za Amor, an e-commerce website to sell Vummidi Bangaru’s diamond jewelry, specifically to Chinese consumers. Though China adheres to the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, which means that all imported diamonds are inspected and ensured to be cruelty free, proving authenticity is an issue. With Taobao and other e-commerce sites in China making headlines for their counterfeit problems, the consumer fear of buying knockoff goods is legitimate. Za Amor hopes to allay these fears with an online-to-offline model in which the jewelry will be shipped to retail partners so the consumer can see the product in-person.
Jaguar Land Rover is looking to avoid China’s anti-monopoly probe by slashing prices on three of its luxury car models. Starting August 1, the company will cut prices by an average of 200,000 yuan (US $32,300) per car. Jaguar is doing this to protect its China market share. The discounted models will include the Range Rover 5.0 V8, Range Rover Sport 5.0 V8, and the Jaguar F-Type Cabriolet. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is putting pressure on foreign automakers, including Mercedes-Benz and others. The auto industry is just the latest to feel the crackdown by Chinese regulators. The Bureau of Price Supervision and Anti-Monopoly has also recently targeted food and eyeglass companies.
In order to showcase the top-notch service that its employees provide, Ritz Carlton Shanghai hired an acrobatic troupe to create a film and live theatrical experience, Miao, which translates to “full of wonder.” Taking a full year to prepare, the show uses complex choreography to illustrate a typical couple’s interactions with Ritz-Carlton staff members including bellboys, housekeepers, and chefs. Focusing on Chinese luxury consumers’ love for storytelling, the performance piece shows the brand’s devotion to not only providing a positive guest experience, but making it clear to visitors just how much the hotel appreciate its staff’s hard work.
Though Asia had the world’s lowest demand for chocolate per capita last year, the candy’s popularity is growing among consumers. In 2013, the consumption of chocolate confectionery in the Asia-Pacific region averaged 200 grams (7 ounces) per person. In the past year, demand grew by 4.5 percent, the fastest rate of expansion globally and nearly six times the worldwide increase of 0.8 percent. The higher demand has caused the price of cocoa beans to rise to its highest level since 2011. Prices will also continue to rise at least 10 percent through the end of the year. The market is also expected to expand at nearly twice the rate worldwide during the next four years, creating shortages of cocoa beans.
image credit: yfs magazine