24 March 2019
China's economy is losing traction but the nation's urban middle classes are willing to spend more to enhance their quality of life. Photo: Xinhua
China's economy is losing traction but the nation's urban middle classes are willing to spend more to enhance their quality of life. Photo: Xinhua

What do the Chinese see as the top trends this year?

The 1972 book “Limits to Growth” warned that our civilization would probably collapse sometime this century. Some people have said that even 2015 could mark the beginning of the end of development. The doomsday scenarios notwithstanding, society and businesses show no signs of falling back.

In China, changes in lifestyle and consumption patterns of its swelling middle class are something that no one can ignore when mapping out the nation’s future. The same thing applies to businesses when they draw up plans for the near term.

Now, what can we expect in the world’s most populous nation, which is preparing to usher in the Year of the Sheep? 

New Weekly, a Guangzhou-based popular magazine of reportage, commentary and cartoons, recently polled its readers to gauge their ideas about the emerging trends. Here is what the publication has found:

Consumption and entertainment

– Smartphones and credit cards will become the most popular ways for payment, followed by cash.

– Online stores that feature genuine luxury imported items and offered at discounted prices will be sought after, denting the earnings of commercial landlords in Hong Kong.

– Your city never sleeps: more businesses will operate around the clock, including convenience stores, bookshops, gas stations and food halls.

– The next generation of public idols will be young lads born after 2000.

– More people will turn vegetarian.

– Tougher tobacco control measures will fail to deter smokers, and cigars will become the new rage.

– Young consumers like to try whisky, vodka and Japanese sake but definitely they have no taste for baijiu.

– Chinese cinemas stand a high chance to reap combined box office receipts of one billion yuan from just one movie. The move will more likely be a domestic production.

– A set-top box will be a must-have companion for the flat screen in the living room to stream online TV dramas. Those shot in the US, Japan, South Korea and Thailand will grab most viewers.

– Apple watch will stir fresh speculative frenzy in the mainland. Many wives will ask their husbands to wear smartwatches with location and emergency call functions originally designed for kids.

– iPhone 6 Plus users in the country will spend 80 percent of their spare time on the device, leaving their laptops and tablets in the dust.

– After hiking trips, marathon races will become the must-do for entrepreneurs like Wang Shi (CEO of top developer China Vanke)

– Big name fashion houses will launch specific product lines for Chinese buyers with common feature colors like “China red” or “lucky gold”.

– Dental services will be the next profit machine, after plastic surgeries, in the medical sector.

– Japanese, Korean, Thai and Arabic language courses will be the buzzword, like English was a decade ago 

– Free online courses will be a new hit among white-collar workers.

– Touts will suffer as more people will use smartphone apps to make appointments at out-patient clinics, and hospitals may slash the number of service counters for walk-in reservations.

Transportation and travel

 – Cars will get cheaper but chances will be that you won’t get a license plate or a parking lot in big cities.

– Gasoline prices will be more affordable.

– Wi-Fi will be a standard on most commercial flights.

– More countries will roll out the red carpet to Chinese tourists with simplified visa application procedures. But visa-free entry will still be unlikely.

– High-speed bullet trains will see more patrons and a seat in a first-class coach will cost more than that on a plane.

Business, economy and environment:

– There will be a next Jack Ma (founder of Alibaba) but it’s unlikely we’ll see another Pan Shiyi (chief of major commercial property developer SOHO China) due to the nation’s sagging realty sector.

– Africa will be China’s new backyard with many entrepreneurs abandoning their Chinese dream to pursue the African one.

– A job in the government will no longer be favored by mothers-in-law, thanks to President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft drive.

– Many IT firms will no longer require employees to clock in, and the working hours will be more flexible.

– Graduates from overseas institutions will find it harder to land a job back home as China supplies the largest number of overseas students to the world and most of them will go back after studies.

– Despite falling circulation and ad revenue, 2015 will still be a good year for the media industry.

– Beijing will wade deeper into unknown waters of its structural reform, and its economy may cool off with the GDP seen expanding at a rate of 6-7 percent.

– People’s Bank of China may lower interest rates and the reserve requirement ratio. The stock market is expected to remain bullish.

– Deposit insurance scheme will be a sure thing, with a cap at 500,000 yuan (US$79,994).

– Soaring wage costs will put more pressure on China’s manufacturing sector.

– Overseas financial services and investments in foreign assets will become fashionable. For example: Hong Kong insurance products.

– More nuclear power plants will be launched in coastal areas. One can hope to breathe cleaner air, but lax safety standards will be a new worry for citizens.

– More multinationals will start giving special allowances to staff stationed in Beijing or other cities with filthy air.

Now, we have listed out all the predictions. What do you think?

— Contact the writer at [email protected]


Changes in lifestyle and consumption patterns will be constant feature in cities like Beijing.

China’s super-rich have distinct tastes in fashion and travel and their idea of a good time may be dfiferent than ours. Photo: Internet

EJ Insight writer

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