Hi, and welcome back to “Bajan,” Chinese style. I hope you’ve had a good week. If you did, then that’s wonderful, but and especially if you didn’t, then this is my gift to you. A little, light laughter can raise even the most sunken of spirits. So, that being said, lets jump right into this week’s droll analysis of, “ The 5 Types of Shoppers” you may meet in China. P.S, I’m not ashamed to say that I know this first hand, because I went through some of these stages, or as they say in Chinese, “Been there, done that” (我是过来人)( Wo shi guo lai ren).
We kick off our list with No. 1;
1: The Supermarket Shopper: Now, let us never forget that this blog is about what I have, and what you may experience in China, and so because we are talking about China, then everything, everything is a large, though not always necessarily, grand affair. Having one of the largest populations in the world, all infrastructure and public amenities, stores, malls, supermarkets etc, must be built around the one core principle of how to provide adequate service and prices for the sheer quantity of people who will be using them. With that in mind, we meet our first shopper, the Supermarket Shopper. The supermarket in China is not merely a place to buy fresh food, house care products and the like. No no no, the supermarket has a little bit of everything, be it, books, electronics, perfumes, fake hair, clothes, shoes,gold and jade jewellery ( authenticity negligible) and the list goes on and on. All of this fare, and all at sometimes outrageously cheap prices. We don’t even have to guess, when I first went to China, I was an avid supermarket shopper. My first winter jackets and sweaters came from the supermarket, and I was bedecked in all the latest fashions of the 1980’s. Check me out. In fact the only difference between myself and other Supermarket shoppers was that they were 50+ years old and or working in construction.The hallmark of being a supermarket shopper is that you don’t care what people think of your appearance, or how your fake cologne smells at all. When I recognised this, it more or less forced my transition into shopper number 2, The Market Shopper.
2: The Market Shopper: This type of shopper enjoys the thrill of he hunt. The adrenaline rush gained from employing Mandarin, hand gestures, facial expressions and psychological warfare all in an attempt to get whatever you want and the lowest possible price. The Market shopper frequents all markets in their multiple incarnations, be it, Street Market, Night Market, Mall Market or just a random garage sale market.”How much does that jeans cost? 200 RNB you say? Ha, I’ll give you 50! What? Its Gucci you say, no less than 150? Too bad, see ya! Wait, you’re calling me back, we are all friends? 100? Nah, Too late now, I’m stuck in my ways. 50 or nothing. What you’re pulling my legs now, all right bye, wait what, 50 is okay now? Wow thanks! This is a great jeans after all!” That’s how most if not all transactions go when one is a market shopper. It may sound entertaining, but it is psychologically exhausting, and more often that not, you definitely still end up paying times more that what the item should cost anyway( Don’t deceive yourself, those sellers never ever make a loss). Plus, and this is paramount, regardless of what the market sellers say, most markets abound with counterfeit items. If, like me, that doesn’t matter to you then have at it, but if it does then you’d better just avoid markets altogether.
3: “Chinese” Brands Mall Shopper: The Chinese Brands Mall shopper is one who frequents China based malls. They are usually extremely nationalistic, but sadly with the unrelenting progress of main-stream pop culture, this type of shopper is a dying breed. Chinese brand mall shoppers are usually middle aged adults who are old enough not to care about pop culture, especially K-Pop culture but still young enough to want to look a certain way. In this regard they are a step above the Supermarket shoppers who just don’t give a damn.
4:The Regular Mall Shopper: It took me about 3 years after arriving a China to become a regular mall shopper. I spent 1 year as a supermarket shopper and 2 as a market shopper. It was a long road. However, everything changed when I met my best friends, still friends to this day Angel, (Inside joke). It was then, that the intricate science of off season buying, and sales was revealed to me. High School and University students, expats and young parents make up the bulk of Regular Mall Shoppers. People who have been influenced my main stream culture, and just want to look hip without breaking the bank. Regular mall shoppers really come out of the woodwork at the beginning of summer and winter, when the sales line malls from here to the horizon. Cheap prices without the hassle of having to bargain, also with the added bonus of guaranteed quality and authenticity, is what make the Regular Mall Shoppers a force to be reckoned with. We are the ascendancy, and we shall cover the world with malls. That’s just how numerous this type of shopper is.
5:The Tu hao ( New Rich) Shopper: The New Rich are a special class of shopper, because they, at anytime, depending on their whims and fancies can become any or all of the previously mentioned shoppers. For the Tu Hao New Rich Shopper, it doesn’t matter where you shop, what matters is that everyone sees you spending ridiculous amounts of money while you shop. From High end malls, to the most dinky of street markets, the Tu hao, always makes their presence known. “This perfume costs 30,000 RNB? Give me two of them, one for me and one more like little poodle, she so loves Givenchy,” “ What you say this shirt costs 250RNB? Do you think I’m poor or something, How dare you! Oh,you made a mistake? It costs 500RNB, oh thats much better. It’s only for my little poodle anyway, but she can only wear the best.” You name it, and you can probably find a Tu Hao shopper, shopping right alongside you. The hallmark of a Tu Hao New Rich shopper is their unshakable feeling of entitlement, and the haste at which they want every man, woman and child to know that they have tons of money to spend. That is the Tu hao. So In conclusion, as the Chinese say, 土豪咱做朋友吧(Tu hao zan zuo peng you ba!) New Rich guy, let’s be friends!
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next issue of “Bajan,” Chinese Style!