Promotions in Chinese Supermarkets


Supermarkets in China are crowded with products, many of which can be undifferentiated from competing products. To help sort out the products for customers, and increase sales, Chinese supermarkets employ “push girls” who offer samples of products that customers can touch, smell, and taste before buying. On weekends, there are often more than 100 promoters ‘pushing’ their products. This is particularly useful since the volume of stock-keeping-units (SKU) in Chinese supermarkets (also known as hypermarkets) often tops 35,000 (versus 20,000 SKUs in U.S. stores).

The Chinese culture requires this marketing approach. While the Chinese customers may already be familiar with the brands from media promotions and advertising, when they visit stores they want to actually touch the product and understand it more prior to making a purchase decision. The in-store demonstrations provide companies with a longer, and more personal, opportunity to market their wares. The personal presentations also allow for customized product discussion and selection. For example, a push girl will engage differently with a mother with a child (engage the child, give him a sample) than with a man (be straightforward, give one or two benefits).

The promotions girls are important to the store’s atmosphere; promotional products can make up to 30% of a hypermarket’s sales.  The promoters are also selected based on height and weight requirements, as well as their personality and enthusiasm.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

1. Show the slide show with images from stores in China:
2. What are students’ observations from the images?
3. Discuss the similarities and differences between stores in China, the U.S., and other countries?
4. Why is this technique effective? What are the negative aspects?
5. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a product commonly found in a grocery/discount store and design a demonstration that could be used to promote it.
6. How could the promotions be tailored to different customer segments: young mothers, teens, older men, etc.?

Source:  Ad Age China, 12/10/2012

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