Cats, cuddly toys and custom bouquets
2018-03-19, YANG YANG

Two mobile games have recently become hugely popular in China. 

One is Love and Producer, in which girls can experience romantic relationships with four different handsome men. In January, it overtook the popular strategy game Honor of Kings on the Apple Store’s free download charts, but was soon overtaken by Tabikaeru: Journey Frog — about a lonely frog who loves traveling.

Love and Producer and Tabikaeru: Journey Frog are said to be played mostly by single young women who desire romantic relationships or want to play a motherly role. 

While both are free to download, some users are spending a lot of money on the various add-ons.

These mobile games are just two examples of the rising consumer demand by the increasing single population in China, who tend to spend more money on themselves, creating new business and economic opportunities.

You need only look at other economies, such as Japan and South Korea, which are experiencing similar trends, to get a glimpse of China’s future.

In Japan, for instance, one-fourth of men and one-seventh of women in a survey chose to remain single, according to a Nikkei report in 2015. 

The money that single women spent on food and clothes was 2.7 times that of married women, showing that single people pay more attention to the quality of life, the report said.

As early as 2007, a report by New Weekly magazine surveyed 1,024 single people in China from 16 cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu in the southwest, and Guangzhou and Shenzhen in the south.

Of the respondents, 28.6 percent said they would buy luxury goods without much hesitation, and 16 percent said they frequented bars, including karaoke bars, at least once a week. About 31.6 percent said their biggest monthly expense was entertainment, partying or other social occasions.

A report issued last year by online travel agency Lvmama said bookings for people traveling alone were 1.8 times those of 2016. Usually 80 percent of customers, mainly from first- and second-tier cities, would book travel arrangements one or two days before departure for the May Day holiday, the National Day holiday and Spring Festival. On average, they spent 14 percent more money than married people.

Chen Zhiya, a student at Peking University, said that in a restaurant called New Yorker in the Zhongguancun area of Beijing recently, a diner asked her to take photos of him with a big toy bear that waiters usually place opposite customers who are alone.

“I found it all a bit embarrassing, but he looked happy,” Chen said.

New Yorker is not the only restaurant that provides such a service. At the popular hotpot chain Haidilao, staff members also put fluffy toys across from diners, presumably to provide companionship.

Reflower, a delivery service for bouquets of flowers, has recently become popular. The company says 78.8 percent of buyers are women, of whom 53.5 percent buy flowers for themselves.

Chris Guo, 36, an IT worker in Beijing who lives alone, is one of Reflower’s customers.

“There are times when everything goes wrong, but beautiful flowers can cheer me up, because from them you can see how great the world is, no matter how things are,” she said.

Due to social networking platforms, singles are not as isolated as they used to be, but they inevitably feel lonely sometimes, which is why many are choosing to raise pets, especially cats.

“More and more people seem to be getting cats,” said Charlotte Qiu, 34, who has done exactly that.

Qiu, of Suzhou, in East China’s Jiangsu province, has her own home and lives alone, and the cat has become an important companion, she said.

“She’s a bit noisy and clings to me a lot, but every morning when I open the bedroom door and see her sitting there waiting for me, it’s such a wonderful feeling.

“At first I spent a lot of money on her, buying quality toys, food and other cat products, but now she has grown up and I know more about what she likes and dislikes, so I buy less.”

China had more than 58 million pet cats and more than 27 million pet dogs by 2014, becoming the second largest pet market after the United States, according to Zhiyan Consultancy in Beijing.

The market value of pet care in China will reach $2.6 billion next year, overtaking the United States as the world’s largest market, according to market researcher Euromonitor International.

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