Chinese bookstore boom supported by visual appeal and social media traffic


Visitors will take pictures and read books at the Zhongshuge bookstore, a chain famous for interior design, in Shenzhen on November 13, 2021.

VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images

Beijing — Social media plays a very important role in China’s consumer business, so new bookstores tend to prioritize visual appeal.

Elaborate interior design (sometimes amplified by mirrors) Attracted the attention of “Architectural Digest” Not only a young Chinese looking for a new experience.

“Chinese consumers, especially since the 90’s [generation], They want convenience and novelty, “said Bain & Company’s Shanghai-based partner, Derek Den, who leads the practice of the company’s consumer products in Greater China. I am.

“They want a product [that] Not only can they meet their functional needs, but they can also meet their emotional needs, “he said. Makes it easier to blend in. “

The shopping mall is aware. Rather than signing contracts with large department stores and using them as the main attraction of their customers, the mall is looking to coffee and tea stores and sophisticated design bookstores. Electric car showroom Jackie Chu, JLL’s head of research in western China, talked about other trendy shops.

“They can drive foot traffic. They can drive foot traffic for targeted customers,” he said. He added that this is very true. He added that the mall would force bookstores to pay one-third or one-quarter of the rent for apparel and cosmetics stores.

In addition to the visually appealing interiors, many bookstores in China sell coffee, stationery and gifts. Nostalgia for China over the last few decades is a popular theme.

One of Mia Huang’s favorite bookstores is in a traditional four-walled Beijing courtyard. Historical items such as bicycles and door signs are on display, and there is also a public reading area.

Huang, who is part of the 90’s and beyond, said he would quit his job at an internet tech company in 2019 and become a full-time travel blogger, sharing commentary, photos and videos about his experience. ..

The building, located in Beijing, China, was built in 1907 as the city’s first British National Church, but lost its religious function long ago, before this photo was taken on June 21, 2019. It became a bookstore.

Jason Fung | Barcroft Media | Getty Images

Another of Huang’s favorite bookstores is a remodeled Beijing church building.

“Many people go there for’check-in’,” she said in Mandarin, visiting places people saw on social media and taking pictures of herself to prove she was there. Mentioned the tendency to take pictures.

She said she went to bookstores not to buy books, and said that many stores are tourist attractions and comfortable places to rest.

Some bookstores in China are very popular and thousands of people are willing to Trekking to remote areas, according to a 2019 report by the state-related online publication Sixth Tone. The village location of the hipster Librairie Avant-Garde bookstore generated 1.5 million yuan ($ 234,375) in revenue over the year to mid-November. Report from the state-owned newspaper China Daily.

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It’s not very clear whether the growing interest in visually appealing bookstores means that companies are actually profiting from selling books.

According to this reporter’s observations, store title selection is often focused on art and design, and gift items other than books can occupy a significant portion of the floor space.

In China, due to strict government control, titles published or sold domestically must not go against censorship. At the entrance to many bookstores, books by President Xi Jinping of China or about President Xi Jinping of China are prominently displayed, but the state operates its own national bookstore chain.

Locals read a book on June 13, 2021 at the Xinhua Bookstore in Handan City, Hebei Province, China.

Costfoto | Barcroft Media | Getty Images

Companies that call themselves bookstores continue to open stores.

According to the business database Qichacha, more than 40,000 new bookstore-related businesses have been registered in the country every year since 2017. From this year to November, 39,000 new bookstore businesses have been registered. This is a 6% year-on-year increase.

According to the database, these openings still outweigh the annual closures of more than 10,000 bookstore-related businesses.

The model will walk the runway at the LEDIN collection show by Chinese designer Wang Dongyang during China Fashion Week 2020/2021A / W collection at Page One Bookstore in Beijing, China on May 6, 2020.

Sheng Jiapeng | China News Service | Getty Images

However, bookstores in the digital age are by no means an easy business, and this fall, the financial difficulties of the well-known bookstore chain “Yanyouji” occurred. Generated an online discussion about the future of photogenic bookstores. This reflects the difficulty of managing the business even after it has gained attention on social media and symbolizes the trend across the fast-growing Chinese consumer market.

Of the 46 Chinese consumer brands launched in 2018, only 17 are still doing well this year, discovered by analysts at Bain and Kantar Worldpanel in a report released this month. In cosmetics, the report states that 30% of the brands that entered the market in 2016 have been discontinued.

According to Den, new Chinese consumer brands in recent years tend to use online channels of e-commerce and social media to win the first wave of traffic. He said digital data on consumer trends can help new brands quickly test and tune their products.

March 29, 2021, TSUTAYA bookstore in Xian City, Shaanxi Province, China.

Costfoto | Barcroft Media | Getty Images

However, it is difficult for these new entrants to find a second channel for growth, which usually requires expansion into a more complex world of physical stores and regional distribution.

“What I always lacked was that once I adopted it, [consumers] So, if you let them buy your product for the first time, how can you make sure they continue with you? “He said. The first wave of success for more sustainable growth. “

In the case of novelty bookstores, that means getting the photographer back and spending money. Retail sales are sluggish.

According to JLL Zhu, some bring in events with professional supermarkets, hair stylists and book authors to create a community that can meet the needs of the whole family and the needs of specific demographics. “From my point of view, I believe bookstores can survive,” he said. “They can survive on the basis of changing strategies to adapt to the changing retail market.”

Chinese bookstore boom supported by visual appeal and social media traffic

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