I am in Beijing this week for an educational event. It is great to see first hand what we hear so much about in the media in Australia. The last time I visited Beijing was in 1986, only a decade after the Cultural Revolution, when tourists used a different currency – and there was no hot showers. Where I am now almost unrecognizable as the Beijing I visited 25 years ago.
Yesterday we attended an insightful presentation at the local Neilsen office – the largest consumer research company in China. They gave us a fascinating insight into the 14 distinct geographical markets. We see China as one country, however there are massive differences between the north, south, east and west in terms of consumerism and life style.
Neilsen described the impact of the one child policy after 30 years – the creation of the ‘little emperor’ culture. (Effectively six adults caring for one child), however as the population ages – that one child will need to take care of those six adults in their old age.
This is the fastest growing consumer economy in the world. Never, in the history of time has an economy changed,grown and developed so quickly. I am amazed that every luxury brand is represented – Rolls Royce apparently sells more vehicles in Beijing in a month than they do in the rest of the world.
We had lunch with a local family – in their Hutong… they got electricity just prior to the Olympics – until that time they used coal for heating. People tell us how serious the government now is about the environment.
The pollution has definitely improved since I was last here. The infrastructure to allow the 19 million Beijing people to move around is phenomenal. They have built 220kms of subway under Beijing and there is another 180kms to go until it is finished. The city was putrid when I was last here – now the streets are spotless… our local host told me that was because of SARS – Government decided to clean the streets… and stay clean.
No wonder Australian businesses get so excited doing business with China… the shear opportunity in size is so hard to understand.
What an exciting place.