[Deep Reading Weekly] Hebei Retail Sinks: Small Town Business Heats Up

Release time: 2019-12-27 09:02:00 Source: Hebei News Network Hebei Party Network News Hotline: 0311-87908405
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Scene inside the shopping mall of Xingtai County. Photo by reporter Wang Sida

Weixian "country goods" loading is busy. The extension of logistics and distribution to the countryside helps to improve the circulation environment of the sinking market. Photo by Xinhua News Agency reporter Xing Guangli

□ Reporter Wang Sida

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In 2019, sinking markets has become a hot word repeatedly mentioned in the economic field.

The so-called "sinking market" refers to markets in cities, towns, and rural areas on the third tier and below. Statistics show that consumer groups in sinking markets account for about 70% of the country's population, with great potential.

With the gradual saturation of the market in first- and second-tier cities and the acceleration of urbanization, new consumption growth points have gradually subsided, which has further promoted the decline of retail channels.

What is the current situation of the retail sinking market in our province? What is happening in the sinking market? Reporters were investigated.

Brand sinks, chain operators expand

In the afternoon of December 19, 2019, Zheng Hongli, a 27-year-old young woman living in Baoding, had just got off work, and she had an appointment with a colleague to go shopping in the newly opened Wanda Plaza.

In the morning, Baoding Jiade International Wanda Plaza, the first Wanda Plaza, officially opened. For young people like Zheng Hongli who have a strong consumer desire and purchasing power, the opening of the first Wanda in the city is an “exciting thing”.

The opening of Baoding's first Wanda Plaza is a portrayal of the rapid decline of various large commercial complexes into third-tier cities and counties in recent years.

After being built and opened in Shijiazhuang, Langfang, and Tangshan in 2011, Wanda Plaza had no new plans in Hebei for several years. From 2018 to the present, with the continuous development of the sinking market, Wanda Plaza has appeared in Xingtai, Baoding and Qinhuangdao, and the trend of sinking to third-tier cities is obvious.

It is understood that, in addition to the layout of third-tier cities, Wanda Plaza project is already under construction in Shijiazhuang Wucheng District and Tangshan Fengrun District. In the near future, Hebei county-level cities will also have Wanda Plaza.

Behind the accelerated sinking of large commercial complexes is the huge population size and consumption potential contained in the sinking market.

"Statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics show that there are currently about 390 million residents in China's first- and second-tier cities. That is to say, the sinking market, which includes residents below the third-tier cities, towns, and rural areas, has a population of about 1 billion people. The cardinality created an unimaginable market space, "said Sun Zhiguo, an associate professor at the School of Economics of Hebei University.

According to Sun Zhiguo, from a macro perspective, the economic growth of first- and second-tier cities has begun to slow down, and the economic potential of cities below the third-tier cities has begun to be released, which is the source of the driving force for sinking market growth.

Statistics in 2018 show that the income of residents in third- and fourth-tier cities continues to increase, and the growth rate of per capita consumption quota is much higher than that in first- and second-tier cities. With the return of population in the first and second-tier cities and the increase in the urbanization rate of the population, the sinking market is becoming the mainstream group of "consumer upgrade". With the upgrading and change of market demand, the sinking of large commercial complexes is the general trend.

In fact, before the sinking market became a hot word, an enterprise in the province had been working in the sinking market for many years.

On September 21, 2019, Weixian Building Department Store Weixian Store was officially opened. This is the 35th branch of Credit Building. As a well-known retail enterprise in the province, with the exception of the Zhaiying Store in Shijiazhuang City, almost all new stores in the credit building have been built in the county seat, aiming at the gaps in the commercial department store market in the county seat for many years.

Nowadays, with the gradual heating of the sinking market and the upgrading of the consumption of the county seat, the business strategy of Credit Tower for many years has begun to pay off.

In addition to the sinking of large-scale chain stores, in the vast county areas, the format of the retail industry is also gradually becoming richer.

"The county seat is a middle ground that connects the city and the countryside. For a long time, with the exception of a few economically developed county seat, most of the county seat can be said to be a desert of modern business. In the past, many county towns were flooded and wanted to sell decent The branded goods are either on Tmall Taobao or by car dozens of kilometers or hundreds of kilometers to go shopping in the urban area. "Sun Zhiguo said.

Today, the situation is changing.

As large-scale supermarkets settled in third-, fourth-tier cities and even counties, many catering and apparel industry chain brands, including McDonald's, KFC, and Starbucks, have also moved to counties.

In the second half of 2019, Starbucks will settle in Renqiu, Cangzhou. This is the first truly county-level Starbucks in Hebei Province. This first- and second-tier city chain coffee shop, which is popular among white-collar workers, is gradually entering the lives of county youths.

And fast food brands such as McDonald's and KFC have also accelerated their expansion into the county seat in recent years. According to incomplete statistics, in Tangshan, Langfang and other places, almost every county (district) has at least one McDonald's and KFC.

In addition to the sinking of international brands, the sinking market has also spawned the rapid development of some specific brands.

The reporter visited many counties in our province and found that in the streets of the old towns in most counties, there were once popular game halls, song and dance halls, various cottage dining brands, and cottage “commodity markets” opened on the first floor of some shopping malls. Although they are still there, most of them are no longer popular, and the shop is deserted.

Replaced in the market are clothing brands represented by seven wolves, badgers, and pure, department store retail brands represented by Mingchuang Youpin, and Honey Snow Ice City, Guzhen Milk Tea, and Zhengxin Chicken Steak. Catering brand.

In a commercial street in Dingzhou, within a few hundred meters, the reporter saw a number of department stores such as Mingchuang, Hibiscus Life, and Zhengxin Chicken Steak and Honey Snow Ice City. Full coverage of counties in the province.

"It's cost-effective. Like Honey Snow Ice City, almost all drinks are below 10 yuan, and the quantity is still large. Another example is the seven wolves men's clothing, which may be overlooked by white-collar workers in first- and second-tier cities, but in the county, many people still think Not bad. "An industry source for the success of these brands in sinking markets.

"The commonality of these brands is that the influence and brand awareness of first- and second-tier cities are declining, but they have found their own brand positioning by opening up county-level markets and become winners of sinking markets." Sun Zhiguo said.

"Compared to the first and second-tier cities, the sinking market has weaker consumption power, consumers are more price-sensitive, and cost-effectiveness is the best way to enter the county seat." Sun Zhiguo analyzed that these chain brands that have successfully entered the county seat have extremely strong High cost performance. These chain brands, which are mainly cost-effective, have brought more design-oriented stores, more textured products, and more advantageous prices, which is the secret of their success in sinking the market.

E-commerce sinks, both online and offline

"I used to go to the daily chemical store in town to buy cosmetics for dozens of dollars. Now that my income has increased, I do n’t want to use those copycat brands. In addition, now that the delivery outlets have arrived in town, it is becoming more and more convenient to buy brand cosmetics online. Speaking of the changes brought to life by online shopping, Chen Song, a 26-year-old female who lives in Liushi Village, Liushi Town, Li County, Baoding, told reporters.

Chen Songyue, who works at a local factory, earns about 4,000 yuan. Today, online shopping has become her favorite consumption method.

"Recently, I have to renovate my home. I'm going to buy a lot of home appliances. In addition to air conditioners, refrigerators, and televisions, I also want to buy an oven online and bake my own bread at home. Learning to bake in the town is still new. Many of the ingredients are local. There are no supermarkets, but they are available online, "said Chen Song.

Fu Yifu, a senior researcher at Suning Institute of Finance, believes that with the increase in income levels and the development of Internet technology, counties and rural sink markets that were previously difficult to reach for many companies have become easier to reach. The sinking of e-commerce is becoming a "gold mine" to drive consumption growth.

The "Sinking Market User Survey Report 2019" released by 58 cities shows that among the sinking market users, 75.67% of the average monthly income is below 5,000 yuan, 58.23% own passenger cars, and 41.04% have houses without loans. They use their mobile phone for an average of 5.39 hours a day, 5.8 online purchases per month, and 63.4% of users prefer online shopping.

Since 2018, internet platforms such as Pinduoduo and Quotiao targeting the sinking market have been listed, causing a wave of "sinking markets". Subsequently, traditional Internet e-commerce companies such as Alibaba,, and Suning also began to re-examine this market that they had once ignored and joined the battle for sinking e-commerce markets.

In the battle for e-commerce sinking the market, the front-line strategy is to fight hard, acquire customers at low cost, and specialize in sinking the market strategy, which has achieved great success.

To this end, the major e-commerce platforms have followed suit and launched their own pooling business. Since the beginning of this year, shopper products including Jingdong Pinyin, Suning Pinyin, and Taobao Juhua have become the protagonists of the "6 · 18" and "Double Eleven" shopping festivals.

"We have summarized some of the main characteristics of online shopping users in the sinking market. They like watching short videos, they are enthusiastic about TV series, and they like to play games. In an acquaintance society, most people have a leisurely life and less pressure on mortgages. E-commerce model. In addition, compared to users in first- and second-tier cities, they are more sensitive to prices, but they are also more concerned about brands and have a curious mindset about new things. ”A person in charge of Suning Easy Buy Baoding Branch introduced, therefore, the next Consumers in the Shenyang market have strong growth in online shopping. Their purchasing power and consumer behavior are powerful driving forces for the growth of e-commerce.

The transaction data from the e-commerce platform confirms the rapid growth of consumption in the sinking market: in the first three quarters of this year, more than 70% of Taobao's new users came from sinking markets such as third- and fourth-tier cities and villages. During the "18 June" promotion of mid-year e-commerce this year, the number of purchasers and the purchase amount in third- and fourth-tier cities increased by more than 100% year-on-year.

The door to the sinking market is quickly opening. With the intensification of competition, e-commerce's competition for sinking markets has also come from online to offline.

Zhou Jie opened an offline store of JD Appliances in Fucheng County, Hengshui. In addition to distributing home appliances to consumers who buy home appliances online, he is also responsible for offline retail. He told reporters that one month of retail sales in the store can reach 1 million yuan.

"Now online and offline prices are almost the same. Sometimes when you come to the store, you can still offer discounts or gifts. In addition, we are also responsible for delivery, installation and after-sales. Consumers are more at ease. Also began to come to my buyer electricity. "Zhou Jie said.

Today,'s home appliance stores have covered almost all counties in Hebei.

"In the township market with a small population, when the competitor is a single-brand specialty store and most of them are opaque individuals, the appliance store has a strong competitive advantage relying on's superior supply chain." Means.

The layout of the JD appliance stores in the township market is a microcosm of the offline layout of e-commerce companies.

In addition to's home appliance specialty stores, also launched a million convenience store program to actively seize third- and fourth-tier cities and rural markets. After the deployment of new retail, Alibaba has also begun to actively expand the county market, taking root in the rural communities of the community through the rural Taobao Tmall service station and Ali retail Tmall store.

Urgently need to upgrade to unlock more consumption potential

Compared with previous years, the scale of consumption in sinking markets has grown by leaps and bounds. But at the same time, unfavorable factors affecting the consumption power and willingness of consumers in sinking markets still exist.

"With the accelerated entry of physical retail companies and e-commerce into the sinking market, the market size and consumption of the sinking market have increased significantly. But from the supply side, there are still some outstanding shortcomings." Beijing Technology and Business University Business Hong Tao, director of the Institute of Economics, said that the quantity and quality of supply could hardly meet consumer demand, which resulted in the potential of sinking the market to not effectively release consumer demand, and many consumer demands were not fully met.

"It's not money, but it's just that you can't buy the authentic and good goods in big cities in time." This is the "delayed consumption" situation encountered by consumers in many third- and fourth-tier cities. Insufficient products need to be improved in terms of commodity supply, market environment, and distribution network.

For example, from the perspective of commodity supply, not only the physical goods sinking the market have gaps with first-tier or second-tier cities, but the supply of medical, insurance, cultural, and education services is even more inadequate.

"There are few cinemas in the county seat, and the speed of new movies is still slow." This is a "recreation shortage" encountered by many people living in the county seat. "I want to help my child apply for a reliable art class, but at present the training institutions in this city always feel unreliable." This is the "cultural anxiety" of parents in many third- and fourth-tier cities.

In terms of infrastructure, logistics lags behind first- and second-tier cities, and is also a shortcoming to be solved in sinking markets.

"My courier, you have finally arrived. I have forgotten you for 12 days. I thought you were lost on the road!" On the evening of November 23, Chen Bo of Qingyuan issued such a WeChat circle of friends , Accompanied by a few helpless expressions.

"Knowing that 'Double Eleven' is slow, but I didn't expect it to be so slow. This courier was the order for payment on the day of 'Double Eleven'. The delivery took 3 days, and the courier actually took 9 days. And I finally called Tell me that the shipment is out of stock and can't be delivered to the collection point in the village in time. Let me go to the town to take it myself, or it will be later. "Chen Bo reluctantly said.

Chen Bo told reporters that he has been used to online shopping, usually express delivery efficiency is OK, up to one day later than the county seat, and most of the courier can be delivered to the village collection point. "But once you catch up with the" Double Eleven "and" Double Twelve ", the efficiency is not comparable to that of cities and counties."

The reporter's investigation found that the density of circulation facilities in sinking markets is much lower than that in first- and second-tier cities. In some small towns, especially in rural areas, the delivery of the "last mile" is still unavailable, and it is still normal for local residents to not receive express delivery at their doorsteps. In the face of special conditions, the shortcomings of low efficiency in rural express delivery are easily magnified.

Relevant experts believe that to solve various problems, on the one hand, it is necessary to guide the sinking of large-scale commerce and trade circulation channels, set up a sinking market, implement direct chain operation, increase outlet density, and at the same time increase the number and variety of supplies to ensure high-quality supply; Encourage large-scale e-commerce platforms to increase investment in logistics distribution, warehousing and freshness, and offline supply to improve the sinking market circulation environment.

"On the whole, the market environment of the sinking market is in the transition period from" none to nothing "to" from there to good. "I hope that through competition, we can improve the supply of goods and enrich sales channels as soon as possible, so that the marketability is high. More cost-effective products. "Sun Qin, co-founder of Pinduoduo said.

Reporter observation

"Sinking market" ≠ "Low-end market"

"Baby walkers, cribs, wet urine, toddler shoes and vitamins to eat are all 'amoyed' online. All are big brands, bought at official flagship stores, I think The quality is assured, so rest assured for the children. "During the" Double Eleven "this year, Zhang Xiaoqing, a young mother in Zhaozhou Town, Zhao County, hoarded many daily necessities for her children. She said that although price is important, the quality of the product is her first concern.

"In recent years, the county seat has also opened two comprehensive shopping malls, and there are also many clothing brands and catering brands. However, no matter the product quality, service experience, and variety of goods, there are still some gaps with the shopping malls in the city. This is the case for chain brand stores. "Mr. Wang, a 34-year-old Anguo resident, said that there are some big-name sports brand stores with a small variety of sports shoes and clothes, often unable to buy suitable clothes, and special promotions. Not as good as a big mall in the city.

The reporter found in the interview that the views of Zhang Xiaoqing and Mr. Wang represent the voices of many young consumers sinking the market. Some surveys show that although consumers in sinking markets pay more attention to prices than first- and second-tier cities when purchasing goods, their concerns about quality and quality and word-of-mouth evaluation have exceeded their concerns about prices and are on the rise. .

"Some people thought that the sinking market is the low-end market, and the quality of goods and services is not feasible. This view is obviously not feasible today. Today's sinking e-commerce market is no longer synonymous with cheap and low quality. Businesses And brands should never equate the sinking market consumer demand, simply equating low-end consumer demand. "Relevant experts believe that for companies, only careful study of consumer sinking habits in the sinking market, producing corresponding, Good products that meet the needs of market segments are the golden keys to occupying the sinking market.

During the visit, the reporter also found that the sinking market also needs to be improved in terms of the consumer environment.

Not long ago, the "Eleventh" Holiday Consumer Rights Protection Public Opinion Analysis Report released by the Chinese Consumers Association showed that there are many problems in the field of online rights protection such as selling fake and shoddy products and false marketing. In addition, the problems of low-price online shopping traps, the threat of negative online shopping reviews, fake customer service, and non-return of goods are more prominent. These problems have affected the consumer experience and rights to varying degrees.

Not only online consumption, offline consumption also have these problems, especially in the towns and rural areas in sinking markets, there are many consumer safety issues, some violations of consumer rights and interests occur from time to time, affecting consumer spending enthusiasm .

"The sinking market is far away from the brand commodity headquarters or regional center, and there are not many distribution companies in the chain, and the level of modernization of logistics is not high, resulting in poor quality of goods and services. The proportion of problem goods is much higher than in first- and second-tier cities. Backward, the cost of consumer rights is high, and the consumer experience needs to be improved. "Expert analysis.

"Therefore, it is important to improve the market supervision system." Experts believe that the supervision mechanism should be improved, the frequency of inspections should be increased, the punishment should be increased, and the cost of illegal enterprises should be increased. At the same time, the follow-up inspection mechanism for after-sales service of the enterprise shall be strengthened, and the quality of after-sales service shall be rated, and this shall be used as an evaluation index for preferential measures such as obtaining credit, tax reduction and burden reduction, forcing enterprises to increase the importance of after-sales service.

"Sinking markets most require coordinated and comprehensive supervision. New models of digital supervision should be explored to promote quality and efficiency of supervision and create a good business environment for fair, open, and fair competition. The original buyers of low-end and middle-end goods have developed into Consumers of quality goods, "said Fu Yifu, a senior researcher at Suning Financial Research Institute.

At present, with the parallel trend of consumption grading and consumption upgrading, consumers have gradually entered a rational consumption stage that requires both "quality" and "affordability". This requires all market players to work together to build a more mature market segment that covers consumption at all levels, and better meet the diversified consumer demand for high-quality and good-priced products in the sinking market.

Editor-in-chief: Wang Yalan_DW110

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