TED Talk: China and the Future of Shopping

We all know that technology has changed the shopping experience. Instead of going into brick-and-mortar stores, or in addition to going into brick-and-mortar stores, shoppers now turn to PCs and mobile devices. Not only that, technology has changed our shopping behavior even when we are IN a store. This is true world-wide, but the future of shopping is here today in China.

In this TED Talks video, Angela Wang, a retail expert with firm BCG, explores the broad range of shopping services available online in China. In China, everything takes place on smart phones; 500 million Chinese consumers regularly use their mobile devices for purchasing goods and services. Think about that number – 500 million people. As Wang states, that is the combined population of the U.S., U.K, and Germany! And, all this has happened in only the last five years.

China’s technology firms are also powerhouses. Alibaba and Tencent own 90% of China’s e-commerce market, 85% of its social media, 85% of its Internet payments, along with diverse digital content, video, movies, literature, gaming and more.

Key trends that Wang sees in China shopping patterns are a growth in spontaneity, co-creation of products, ultra-convenience, and social shopping. Using WeChat, the mobile shopping journey in China far surpasses the U.S.

Marketers can learn a lot of lessons from this informative talk.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss with students that while the buying process may vary slightly for different products and target markets, the basic 5-step process is problem recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, and post-purchase behavior. Is this still the correct model?
  2. Discuss the changes that the students have made in their own shopping behavior. How do they use mobile devices to shop? Map the journey on the board.
  3. Show the TED Talk video. Make sure students pay attention to the end of the talk when the shopping journey is explained (9:00 minute mark): https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_wang_how_china_is_changing_the_future_of_shopping/transcript
  4. How does the Chinese shopping journey compare to the traditional U.S. consumer model?
  5. For a product, have students work on the actions taken in each of the five steps in the traditional model. Then have them work out the steps of the Chinese model.
  6. Debrief the exercise.

Source: TED Talks

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