China Consumer

The big spenders

Taobao releases data on online shopping habits

Bought by a Ningbo male?

According to Taobao, Putian, a small fishing town in Fujian province is China’s breast-enhancement capital. The country’s biggest online shopping site, which recently released a set of consumer data about online shopping pattern in China, says 2.3% of online shoppers in Putian bought breast-enhancing products last year, the highest in the country.

Other quirky data also emerged from Taobao’s statistics. For instance, young women from the Xinjiang region in northwest China are not only the country’s biggest shoppers for bikinis (odd given that Xinjiang is not only far away from the ocean but also notoriously dry), they also have the country’s largest average bra size.

Meanwhile, women from Zhejiang province are the most generous girlfriends and wives, spending more money on men than women from any other part of the country. In 2011, of the 10 cities that topped the list of female users that purchased male products, eight of them were from Zhejiang. And as it turns out, they are also thoughtful mothers. Of those that purchased educational baby products through Taobao, the top seven spots were occupied by cities in Zhejiang.

Not to be bested, Zhejiang men – or more specifically men from the coastal city of Ningbo – love spoiling their partners. Taobao’s statistics reveal that 78% of the city’s male online shoppers bought something for women last year, the highest percentage in the country. After the news came to light, many wrote on weibo: “If you have to pick a husband choose Ningbo men.”

The Taobao data also shows search habits, revealing that in Shanxi province, the most searched terms last year were “Winnie the Pooh” and “sexy lingerie” – an odd combination. And people from Jiangsu province seem obsessed with Steve Jobs and Apple products, two of the most highly searched keywords.

The island city of Zhoushan in Zhejiang is said to be the most cultured, with the highest sales of art-related products and musical instruments. It is also the most health conscious, with China’s highest health product purchase rate. Meanwhile Nanjing is the best-read city. Over a quarter of the city’s Taobao users have paid for books online, spending over Rmb54 million ($8.5 million) in total.

People in Shanghai are known to love shopping. It’s also known to be China’s fastest aging city. Taobao’s data supports this too. Shanghai has the highest number of online shoppers aged over 50, with 89 out of every 100,000 Taobao users falling into that age group.

It is the first time Taobao has shared consumer data with the public. Analysts say the move could indicate a new business line. It could signal the Alibaba-owned firm’s move into offering consulting services to its merchants, says Dave Carini, managing director of Maverick China Research, a technology consultancy.

With Taobao accounting for Rmb4.4 billion of daily sales last year, marketers will increasingly find its data a rich seam to be mined as they seek to understand regional consumer trends.


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