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Sharing economy, buying time megatrends gain ground in China

Over 50% of the Chinese consumers engaged in sharing economy in 2019.

Digital megatrends “sharing economy” and “buying time” continue to develop in China as consumers are prioritising access, convenience, and time in procuring products and services, according to a report by FedEx Express.

More than half of Chinese consumers were estimated to have participated in the “sharing economy” in 2019, FedEx stated in its white paper E-commerce Megatrends to Watch, noting that the key concept behind this is “access but not ownership.”

Increasing urbanization is amongst the key drivers to the rise of sharing economy, it said, adding that shared services are most accessible in urban areas that have a more advanced infrastructure.

“From the industry end, sharing economy is continually receiving investment from major technology firms. Fast-paced urban life drives increasing demand for convenience,” it said. “Companies across categories note the significant potential of providing consumers with ‘access’ instead of ‘ownership’ to bring them a more convenient life, leading to trend growth in China.”

“Sharing Economy is gradually becoming an integral part of consumer habits in China, driven by Chinese people’s call for convenience,” it added.

Car-sharing, power bank-sharing, and bank-sharing are the most prominent services that make Chinese consumers’ life more convenient as they can be accessed through smartphones.

“The sharing economy in China is under rapid development with support from leading technology companies. As a result, consumers gradually form sharing habits for items with practical daily functions such as bicycles and power banks,” it said.

Globally, FedEx said sharing economy is still limited in more developed regions mainly for car rental services. There is still a need for a robust infrastructure to support the development of sharing economy in other regions such as the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.

Sharing economy of life services in China is predicted to post 10% year-on-year growth for 2020 to 2025, FedEx said, citing the Report on China’s Development of Sharing Economy by the State Information Centre of China.

Chinese consumers are also “buying time” due to the rising disposable income because they need increased purchasing power to save time through outsourcing tasks, it said.

“Relatively rapid economic development makes life busy for the Chinese. An increasingly fast-paced lifestyle, especially among the younger generation, calls for a greater willingness to spend to save time,” according to FedEx.

FedEx said Chinese consumers who are willing to spend money to save time rose 11.6% to 58.9% in 2020 compared to 2019, citing the Euromonitor Passport Consumer Survey 2020. Due to this, food delivery also posted strong growth in China, achieving a 39.3% annual growth in 2019, according to a report by Meituan.

Sub-trends falling under the megatrend “buying time” include “Serviced Life” where people are willing to pay for services ranging such as food delivery, household service, and running errands. Another sub-trend is the “Enjoy at an Instant” wherein customers are demanding fast delivery of their products.

Globally, the “buying time” trend is more prominent in developed regions like North America and Europe, it said.

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