China is the second latest economy in the world, and every significant brand's future is impacted by its growth (or collapse!); but who's got the time?! A weekly potpourri of reads that will make you look like a keen China observer during any conversation about China. First up:
IKEA stores, a wonderland for Chinese freeloaders
"A net user named @薇薇诺诺2661317325 posted on Sina Weibo, China’s hugely popular microblogging service, a series of photos she took in an IKEA store in the eastern city of Nanjing where almost every bed in the show rooms is occupied by one or two people soundly asleep. 'From age 0 to 80, each of them has fallen into a rapturous sleep! Even on those beds that are not occupied, sheets are in a mess after a havoc has been created,' she commented."
Related Reading: China's Kunming Adds Fake Ikea Store to Apple Clones [below: Evisu, Angry Bird meat, and more]
Taiwan university sues Apple over speech recognition patents
"Taiwan's National Cheng Kung University said on Monday it had launched a suit alleging that Apple's use of Siri in its iPhone and future versions of its iPad infringes two US patents it was granted in 2007 and 2010 that relate to voice-to-text technology. The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, on Friday, it said."
Related Reading: iPad Trademark: Endgame
Related Reading: iPad Trademark Dispute Addendum: Revenge of the Lawyers
Changes Brew in Asian Beer Sector
"In Asia, beer-industry profits are still catching up with more established markets, dragged down in particular by low unit revenue in China and India. The Asian-Pacific region accounted for 35% of global beer volume and 26% of revenue but only 17% of profits in 2010, Bernstein estimated.
Part of the problem is that companies in the region tend to be family-controlled, or, in the case of China and Vietnam, government-controlled. Many already have signed joint ventures with big foreign brewers or sold them minority stakes, making it tougher for another major brewer to step in."
Angry Birds and the Chinese Mystery Meat
"While I was shopping, I had no idea whether this was a real license deal between Rovio and 家佳康, which is owned by COFCO. Rovio has been doing some fairly interesting licensing deals over here in China, so I thought it was possible for them to do a pork product deal. You know, if those birds were angry enough, perhaps that after killing off those pigs, they ground them up into different piggy meat products. Yummy.
Notice that we’ve got not only the name ('Angry Birds' and '愤怒的小鸟') on there, but also several copyrighted cartoons/characters.
When I got home, I did a search first under 'Joycome,' figuring that since this was a foreign company deal, I might find something in English. My search initially turned up several items relating to the 'JoyCome Adult Toys Manufactory' in Yiwu…"
Related Reading: PETA Protest Leads Urban Decay to Boycott China, Win PETA Award
How Are China’s One Million Millionaires Spending?
"So what are these cashed-up folks spending all that money on? According to the report, a leading single area of consumption is travel. Respondents spent an average of 20 days per year traveling, heading overseas for holidays as well as business. In China, the top destinations for the country’s wealthy are Sanya, Hainan island, as well as Hong Kong and Yunnan province, while those headed abroad are most often bound for France, the US and Australia."
Related Reading: GroupM Knowledge – Hurun Wealth Report 2012
UC Berkeley to offer Three Kingdoms course with online gaming
"The course will invite students on a journey into Chinese history and culture focusing on the Three Kingdoms period (220-280 CE) and read the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, written by the 14th century author Luo Guangzhong. Playing the online game will be a requirement of the course to help students understand the historical characters, and students will even be quizzed on contemporary Chinese pop culture, according to the course description on the website from a student association called DemocraticEducationat Cal, which is allowed to apply to the school to open courses."
Japanese denim brand Evisu enlists enfant-terrible Edison Chen as brand ambassador
"Chen is Evisu's first-ever brand ambassador, but the brand's spokerperson said that its denim clothes are popular among international hip hop superstars and celebrities including Jay Z, P. Diddy, Kanye West, Pharrel Williams, Chris Brown, 50 Cent. Alicia Keys, Tom Cruise, David Beckham, and Kate Moss. Chen's role in a sex scandal involving a series of Hong Kong celebrities caused such a stir among local and international Chinese media in 2008 that the star returned to his home country of Canada for a few years. He still remains a popular target for paparazzi."
Johnson & Johnson said to buy local brand
"Such a transaction, if it were to go through, would provide Johnson & Johnson, which has an extensive sales network in China, an even more dominating share of the ballooning baby-care market, with annual sales estimated to reach 2 billion yuan ($310 million) by the end of 2015. Established in 2006 and with a strong Danish connection, Elsker posted annual sales of 400 million yuan for 2011, up 73 percent from a year before, according to earlier Chinese media reports. On its official website, the company said its products, including shampoo, body lotion and cream, are marketed in most Chinese provinces."
China Slowdown Forcing Discounting at Gome to McDonald’s
"To lure increasingly price-sensitive shoppers, companies from electronics retailers to footwear makers are being forced to offer discounts that are hurting margins and driving down earnings. Even McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) (MCD), the world’s largest restaurant chain, has introduced a value dinner starting from 15 yuan ($2.40) and reported slower same-store sales growth."