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Bikinis, betel nut, books - Who buys most online?

(Shanghai Daily)

09:43, March 19, 2012

SHANGHAINESE famous for their sweet tooth and taste for mild foods are actually big fans of hot chilies; women in hot western deserts in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region like bikinis; people in coal-rich Shanxi Province have a taste for diamonds and Ningbo people are health-conscious and buy a lot of first-aid kits.

These are among the findings of a fun and intriguing survey released last month by, China's largest online shopping platform; it challenges stereotypes of Chinese from various provinces and opening a window onto who's buying what. But it's short on actual numbers and on comparisons.

In its second such survey, Taobao looked at 120 million visits last year, a 120-percent increase over 2010. There's no official figure from Taobao about its last year's total sales volume; a recent Internet release estimated it reached 100 billion yuan (US$15.8 billion), but many doubted the authenticity.

"From statistics collected from our database, we can find interesting patterns and see how the shopping habits among online buyers in different regions differ from each other," says Sun Yuxing, Taobao's communications officer.

"It's also a weather vane that can help predict trends and help buyers and retailers keep an eye on what's in style," she says. "But above all, the key word for this report is fun."

So it gives some hints but it's not the basis of serious marketing or sociological conclusions.

It's a bit surprising that the most-searched products for Beijing online buyers are cross-stitch embroidery, something not usually associated with people from the north who are not supposed to be too fussy.

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