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China's “single economy” stimulates new consumption trend

(People's Daily Online)    09:11, March 14, 2019

Whether it's housing, appliances, fast food, cosmetics or catering, there is a definite push for Chinese companies to target single adults, as the "single economy" promotes new consumption trends across the country.

Data from relevant authorities showed that in 2017, the number of single adults in China had reached 222 million, accounting for 15 percent of the total population. Among them, nearly half of singles were between the ages of 20 and 29, with many citing it was their personal choice to remain single. This ever-increasing group of singles has spawned the growth of China's “single economy”.

A report from Alibaba’s Tmall indicates that in recent years, daily necessities that are made smaller, perfect for solo use, are becoming more popular. For example, over the last 10 years, sales of mini-microwaves increased by 970 percent, mini washing machine sales increased by 630 percent, and sales of personal hot pots increased by 200 percent.

With the rapid development of the Internet and AI, singles do not need to cook and can wait for food to be delivered to the door. Even when they are lonely, they can chat with people online, or even talk to an AI robot. Today, personalized, solo consumption has become a new consumption subdivision.

Some people believe that the singles group is the leading force that drives consumption upgrading. A number of new industries have emerged, owing to the rise of singles as a new consumption power, leading this group to become a crucial target for many companies.

Living paycheck to paycheck

According to a survey from Sinolink Securities Consumption Research Center, 43 percent of young singles in first-tier cities live from paycheck to paycheck, while the proportion in third to fifth tier cities is over 67 percent.

For most singles, quality is replacing price as the dominating factor for consumption. Singles tend to pursue freedom of consumption in the name of "being good to yourself".

According to media reports, among the 16 cities with representative urban singles, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, 28.6 percent of singles purchase luxury products without consideration, while 31.6 percent of singles spend most on entertainment or social consumption.

Some experts pointed out that the "single economy" is growing because the pressures and values of young people have changed. On the one hand, the family concept is weakening. Faced with high housing prices, high marriage costs, and extended costs of raising a family, many young people shy away from the responsibilities associated with settling down, preferring to stay single.

New potential consumption growth engine

The report from Sinolink Securities also predicts that convenience stores and delivery will become large areas for future consumption. Social media influencers and opinion leaders will become important sources for brands and merchants. The concept of “looking good with an interesting soul”, which is popular on Chinese social media, will promote industries like tourism, cosmetics, small household appliances and vocational training. E-sports, animation, comics, and videos will become essential parts of singles’ consumption.

Meanwhile, the desire for companionship will further benefit the pet industry. Industries associated with socializing, such as social events catering and board games, are also likely to boom.

Although the singles group is more willing to consume, some experts are also concerned that the rise of China's single economy reflects the "singles dilemma". If young people don’t want to get married, then in the longer term, there will be a series of other social problems, such as slowing population, changes to the family structure, and challenges in interpersonal relationships. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Sheng Chuyi, Bianji)

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