For sure you know the saying "What's that got to do with the price of tea in China?" - and that means the "farthest logical connection from the current economic focus" (wikipedia). And do you know what? The most of us have grown up with this idea. China is far away. It seems to be big, but not dangerous and again far away.
Last week I had the pleasure to attend the annual congress of the worldwide leading association for trade shows and exhibitions UFI. The congress was in Shanghai. Of course, it was the biggest congress in history of this association, founded already in 1925. 600 delegates from all over the world were there, a lot of them from good "old" Europe.
We have had the idea before, that there is something going to change... That is why especially our international industry has been started activities in China already many years ago. But now we have learnt for sure, that this country will have a massive impact on our future. If there is a single economic movement up or down in China, everywhere else we will „feel“ it . That is because of the always growing huge involvements of Chinese money in our markets and also because of the ever growing consumer market in China, where a lot of famous international brands make a lot of money. Should we call it dependency?
During the congress in Shanghai, we have had a session with the worldwide biggest online B2B platform Alibaba, based in China and one of our leading international show organisers UBM. Both have a partnership since late 2015 to combine online and live marketing. This combination is one of the most promising partner constructions for the future. The session was brilliant, because they both talked about chances and problems in a very open way. That means, the idea of merging data and customer information is good, but has not automatically big impact on either business. It will need time and more experience. Good for our industry. Again: Online plattforms do obviously not replace our live marketing business just like that. Neither in China nor anywhere else in the world. Right now. But:
One day after our session in Shanghai „Alibaba’s Singles Day“on 11/11 took place in China. It’s a a special online shopping day comparable with Cyber Monday or Black Friday. 17,8 Billion Dollars the Chinese spent during that day. 30% more than 2015 and much more volume than expected for Cyber Monday and Black Friday (2015: 5,8 billion Dollars). Prognose for German E-Commerce for the whole year 2016 is 47 billion USD.
Another example for the extraordinary development in China you can spot in the Oriental Pearl Tower of Shanghai. It’s probably the most famous landmark along Huangpu River and the BUND. Since 2016 you can discover the idea of the future of Shanghai with a stunning film production. At the beginning it looks a bit like Star Wars and you would smile. But at the end the landscape has changed massively and you are surrounded by flying vehicles. At this stage of the film I thought myself: They will make it happen. And they will not care about the price of tea in good old Germany or Great Britain or anywhere else. So rather look for a friend in China.