Moving to Beijing

An episode of House Hunter International on HGTV featured a New Orleans lawyer who quit his practice to move to Beijing just for the experience.  As is typical of the show, the house hunter is shown three possible houses or apartments and then makes a choice.  Our interest is the sociology; what does a Beijing apartment look like, how do the Chinese live in the big city.  Here’s link to the episode:

8 Characteristics of Chinese Millennials

  1. More than their parents, Chinese millennials are individualistic. They are less conforming than those who came before them.
  2. They tend to be more open to the west than prior generations. They came of age in the time after China’s opening to the world; they expect the world to be open to them.
  3. Like kids in the west, technology is just part of their lives, it is not the new thing, it is.
  4. They are smart, diligent and well educated. Like their counterparts in the west, school and extra-curricular activities are central to their lives.
  5. They are filled with national pride, concerned about China’s sovereignty and its position in the world, which syncs well with the governments goals.
  6. In order to make the huge Chinese masses seem less foreboding, Chinese millennials are quick to use technology to gather communities around their personal passions.
  7. In a radical departure from past generations, Chinese millennials tend to live for the moment, spend more freely and use credit – a much more western profile.
  8. Segmentation of the newest consumer generation can be broken into post-80s, post 90s and post-millennials. As the generations get younger the behaviors above become more pronounced.

Source Jing Daily

How AI Will Insinuate itself into Marketing

AI is coming, but it has a long way to go.  In a recent survey 500 marketers by Freedman International and Click-Z only 7% were using AI-powered chatbots.  Few marketers have incorporated AI into their businesses because there is great ambivalence toward the technology.  In another broad study of marketers by Conductor, 34% of responds said AI was the technology for which they were “most unprepared.” Yet in a much smaller poll by DigiDay, 85% of their respondents claimed they wished they were using AI.

What will move the ball forward?  Answer: AI will be more widely adapted when it becomes “part of a larger platform, it also has to be embedded in a seamless way if customers [read: marketers] are going to use it at scale.”  Sources: eMarketers

Economic Minister says China to Further Open its Economy

The political dynamics in China are always something to watch, especially now. Several things are happening at the same time.  Internally, Xi Jinping has finished his first 5-year term in which he consolidated power, exemplified by his changing the law governing term limits.  He starts his second term after tightening social control by promising to further open economic control.  From our point of view, the latter is a good thing.

In recent meetings, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Xi’s lead economic minister, talked of the government’s intention  “to fully open the manufacturing sector” to foreign competitors.  He went deeper when he said, “There will be no mandatory requirement for technology transfers and intellectual property rights will be better protected.”  Those are the words we want to hear.

Of course, this is all happening in a backdrop of trade war talk, which we don’t want to hear.  Still, the two things are not necessarily tied together since Chinese trade relations and interdependence is broader than just the US-China squabble. Therefore, these reforms should not be derailed because of it.  Source: AP

Rumbling from Marketers Gets Louder

The key learning from a study done by Infectious Media is that transparency dissatisfaction has reached a level where marketers are willing to pay more for more assurance that their budget is reliably getting to the desired audience.  They say that in a survey, but do they do it in reality?  One indication that they may be moving from talk to action is that more than half of those surveyed are looking for alternatives to current practice. The study didn’t define what those alternatives might be, but if half those marketers are for real, the needle will start moving.  Source: The Drum

Chinese Consumer Confidence Soars


124.0 is the highest confidence measurement seen since we began tracking it in January 2015.  The number sits well above the 13-month average of 117.3 and is consistent with other reported measures.  This number is based on a monthly survey of 700 adults in 20 cities that is intended to capture “consumers’ degree of satisfaction about the current economic situation and expectation on the future economic trend.”  Sources:; Nat’l Bureau of Statistics, China

Stephen Hawking was a Neutron Star in China

Stephen Hawking’s death was marked all over the world, but it was of special significance to the people of China who revered him.  When he visited China in 2006 his star status was compared to the coming of Tom Cruise.  He was a symbol to them of hard work and perseverance in spite of difficulty, all of which the Chinese are familiar.  Hawking also endeared himself to the Chinese by is praise of their inquisitiveness and their accomplishment.  They like being praised.  When he joined Weibo in 2016 (screen shot) he exploded the millennial generation’s appreciation.  His greeting “to my friends in China” was responded to with millions of followers in a matter of hours.  It follows that the circulation of the Chinese version his book A brief History of Time is second only to the English version. Source:

Ad Prices are Going Up

Ad prices are going up according to the latest study from eMarketer, which compared Q416 to Q417.  As articulated by eMarketer lead analyst Lauren Fisher, CPM prices have edged up as much as 10% across both desktop and mobile.  A core reason for the upward movement is growing use of audience data.  Naturally, a more targeted audience is more valuable to advertisers.  And the last year has seen a growing emphasis on transparency and audience segmentation.  As the open market inventory prices have increased, they made private placement inventory more valuable, which, in turn, has made the direct sale inventory even more valuable.

Another factor in price inflation is the trend for demand-side players to take in-house many agency functions.  By removing middle man cost, more money is available for the supply-side to absorb and it is very absorbent.  Source: eMarketer

Inflation Spikes in China

Since May of last year China’s inflation rate has held relatively steady…no story here.  Not so in February when it spiked to 2.9 percent, the highest since November of 2013.  Analysis says it was a sharp increase in the price of food and non-food, which by our reckoning is everything.  We will have to see if this sustains when the March number is revealed.  Another measure to watch is consumer sentiment. Will it change because of higher prices? Source: Trading Economics; National Bureau of Statistics, China

The Promise of AI v. the Reality of AI Talent

There is no arguing that AI is likely to grow as we find more ways to embed the technology in our daily activities.  While it all seems inevitable there is one thing that is working against the trend.  It is a deep hole in talent.  Marketers can imagine ways to use machine learning to better reach and engage customers, but the ability to write the algorithms requires serious skill and we are not training enough people to support the ideas that will surely come flowing.  The money seems to be there, at least based on the IDC projections in the graph, but without numbers of computer scientists it is hard to see how the promise becomes reality.  This is not the kind of coding that one can intuit.  Source: MarTech Today