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Jerry Gelsomino

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23 Sep
2012

Reflection (part 2)

First of all this week, I would like to offer each of you the opportunity to share with me if you want me to continue to send discussion topics. He response rate has been low, as observed by those who have participated.

How to Get Your Voice Heard

The desire to gain or improve status can also be recognized in actions by people who want a greater voice in the activities of social, political, or other regulating organizations.

But recently, simple protest or marches don't seem to be enough for activists. We've seen the violent confrontations in China over the disputed Diaoyus territories with Japan, and here in Hong Kong, mass rallies and hunger strikes contributed to winning the day over the government's plans to National Education. This is of course a global trend as we witness the current deadly protests of the United States and France.

But is it going too far and over incidences too trivial? In Madrid, 60 people were hurt as music fans rioted when a filled-to-capacity venue hosting an MTV concert was closed to further entry. And in Amsterdam, youths vandalized shops set a car on fire, damaged lamp posts, and scores of injuries were reported, after they were denied admission to a private birthday party. The cause: about 30,000 people received an invitation to a girl's 16th birthday party after she announced the fete on Facebook and it went viral. She forgot to set her Facebook settings to private.

My inquiry to you, from an Asian perspective, is violent protest and rioting becoming the norm to making one's point of view heard? Have we lost the value of dialogue and compromise?

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Posted by Jerry Gelsomino | Topic: Research

Reflection

9 Sep
2012

It's been several weeks since I've launched this blog to get your opinions and point of view about news articles and situations involving a quest for status or improvement of current standing in society by Asians.

While the community I am sending the inquiries to is today quite compact, I plan to enlarge the field of commentators by inviting my new cadre of students at university to join. Before I do however, I'd appreciate any comments by you on the content, clarity or appropriateness of my questions? Are you having any technical difficulties with the blog website?

Your opinions are crucial to the success of my studies.

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3 Sep
2012

In this weekend's South China Post, and article profiled how many Chinese parents are spending a small fortune to give their children a taste of the world.

The article described how "A growing number of affluent parents are sending their children overseas to improve their English and develop critical thinking skills. "Those who seek wisdom should read 10,000 books and travel 10,000 miles, the Chinese saying goes, and while one could easily spend a lifetime accomplishing the first task, many affluent mainland parents are increasingly choosing to put their children on the path to scholarship by sending them overseas for a season."

Agencies who organize overseas summer camps for primary and secondary school pupils report an explosion in the number of parents willing to shell out up to 40,000 Yuan (HK$49,000) - twice the annual per capita disposal income of the average urban mainlander - to introduce their children to the world beyond China.” Many of the students are said to become quite enamored with their visits to Europe and the U.S., determined for a longer stay by attending university overseas.

This situation appears to be another case of status gaining by parents and their children as they strive for a sampling of life outside of China. But what is gained by this exposure? What academic or social experiences are most desired through this international adventure?

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27 Aug
2012

First of all, thanks to all of you who have contributed to this blog on any of the subjects in which I have inquired. I hope now that the summer has passed we can keep a good thing going and growing. As I once again will be teaching this fall, I intend to look for more respondents to join the ACE panel.

This Week's Blog Inquiry

Wealthy consumers are increasingly seeking out memorable experiences over luxury goods in a premium market that has now hit US$1.4 trillion a year, according to the latest survey.

Boston Consulting Group and research firm Ipsos' in their Lux Report state that, "Spending on top-end safaris and other intangibles now accounts for 55 percent of all luxury spending - US$770 billion - as consumers choose to splurge on memories over handbags or watches."

The report goes on to say, "The world's younger affluent consumers are those most likely to choose kite-surfing over Cartier, as people born after 1980 are more likely to define themselves by what they've done rather than what they have acquired. Even in brand-obsessed China, where personal luxury goods serve as a strong badge of status and success, experiential luxury dominates, growing at 28 percent each year."

What are your thoughts on the growth of experiences; exotic vacations, business or professional tours, or maybe academic adventures replacing the quest for materialistic treasures. Is there a different level of status experience provides?

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19 Aug
2012

"Teach your children well, Their father's hell did slowly go by, And feed them on your dreams The one they picked, the one you'll know by." Lyrics by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, 1970

In last week's Shanghai Daily.com, writers delved into the topic of China's pampered children; the little emperors and empresses, and the current trends in nurturing methods used by parents.

"Raise a daughter in an easy, comfortable environment, but raise a boy in a rigorous way" (fu yang nu, qiong yang nan), the saying goes, passed down over thousands of years.

But with China's quantum leap into modernization and urban prosperity for many, the old wisdom has been drowned out by the sound of a middle class getting rich and wanting to pass on to the children the ease and advantages they never had.

Both urban boys and girls have been pampered, many to excess, and as a result, there's much hand-wringing about 'materialistic girls' and especially boys who are weak and unmanly ��" parents have gone too far, some say, in giving them everything they want."

A whole 'boys' movement' has arisen to help boys get back in touch with their tougher, masculine side. As for girls, the old adage about a protected and comfortable environment appears to hold true and some parents even go overboard, introducing their girls to the better things in life in hopes that they won't settle for less when they marry."

What do you think about how parents guide and prepare their children for their future status in society? How were you driven by your family and what qualities were you encouraged to develop for success in life?

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12 Aug
2012

It's the fourth week of submitting inquiries to you. I'm citing observations and others' opinions about Asian consumer behavior that have attracted my curiosity. I hope these issues are also of interest to you and help you to better know the shopper and what your business needs to do to cater to them.

As you know, the weekly distribution of topics remains accessible on my blog and you can join in the discussion at any time. One final note: If you have had trouble posting or recording your post on the blog, please excuse the difficulty and email me with you experiences.

Physical Appearance Status

This study is meant to determine to what extreme the Asian consumer will go to satisfy their desire to improve or gain status. But in several articles published recently, it has been noted that some factions of the public in the region will take to extremes to protect or change their appearance is a quest for a desired level of status. In SCMP, a feature was printed about the growing popularity of "face masks" wore by sun bathers at local beaches.

Photo from SCMP

For many middle-class Chinese women, the desire for pale skin outweighs the shocked looks and joking comments by fellow beach-goers. The publication quoted an idiom, which women, young and old know by heart, "Fair skin conceals a thousand flaws."

In Shanghai, hospitals report a growing trend of "minors, mostly 15 to 18 years old, often received double eyelid surgery to widen the appearance of the eye, the least risky and most popular cosmetic procedure for minors. But having a face lift is not recommended until a person is at least 18 years old." Other requested cosmetic surgeries, requiring implants, are also refused by the hospitals for teens whose bodies are still developing. This growth in cosmetic surgery requests by this market segment is fueled by "dreams of stardom among youngsters and a more open attitude by parents."

http://www.shanghaidaily.com/sp/article//Metro/2012/08/08/Plastic+surgery+trendy+among+minors+but+risky

What do you think of these status-driven trends? Do you think the desire to look attractive or of a specific cultural level encourage extreme, risky or dangerous behavior? And what about parents attitude towards it?

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5 Aug
2012

The shopper in China is changing according to those who follow customer behavior, further demonstrating that China is a dynamic market and continuing to evolve. Labeled 'Consumer 2.0,' they demonstrate that through experience and knowledge gained, the Chinese shopper is becoming more sophisticated.

Reported by Jing Daily.com, Chinese luxury shoppers are beginning to look for unknown brands over high-profile, recognized international labels. According to the trend tracker website, "There‘s a growing trend in China" a trend towards individualization: looking, being, and dressing differently from others. This is led by the second generation of Chinese shopper. They’re just starting out, but they’re larger, stronger and different from their predecessors. And incoming brands need to speak to them.” Other comments like, “China has moved from a country of collectivism to a country of individualism,” and “Today’s young people don’t want to blend in. They want freedom, at least in their appearance,” were included in the article.

In his recent book, What Chinese Want, Tom Doctoroff, North Asia CEO, J. Walter Thompson states that "While at the lower end of the luxury market, people do want that flashy . . . logo, but as you get more wealthy you need to project your power and wealthy in a more understated way." He predicts that luxury products that are more inconspicuous, with smaller, more subdued logos, will be the lasting ones, the brands that win.

Do you see evidence that shoppers here are becoming more thoughtful about the brands they buy, and how easy it is for others to identify their brand of choice?

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16 Jul
2012

A Chinese tour guide first let me in on the cultural legend. Then I saw it in print, quoting a Japanese press article titled, "The three most-wanted, a mirror of the economic situation." An unnamed cultural anthropologist had defined and recorded the materialistic desires of the Chinese consumer, reflecting the nation's increasing affluence and sophisticated wants. In the 1950s, it was a watch, bike and sewing machine; TV set, refrigerator and washing machine in the 1980s; phone, computer and air conditioning in the 1990s. I am told that the purchasing of such modern conveniences even pre-dated electricity in some regions.

Today as the selection of goods are so widely available throughout most of China, it is understandable that there is no longer a single, uniform wish-list. Housing, an automobile, and children's education would find a place on some tallies. Currently, Smartphone ownership in China totals 33% of the total population, and growing as the country has demonstrated a passion for going mobile, so the latest mobile phone technology would be high on other lists. And in Tianjin province, 85% of primary school students who received gifts for International Children's Day, asked their parents to give them brand-name sports shoes.

As our purpose is to follow and analyze materialistic desires as methods to gain or improve status through consumer behavior, we ask you, "If a nationwide survey was done today, what would be the three most sought after items by Chinese people?"

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16 Jul
2012

It's week 2 and there is a new inquiry to look at. You still can go to the blog home page and continue to review past discussions.

Have you seen the online video of the young woman throwing a childish tantrum in a Chinese car dealership, because her fiancé won't agree to buy the car she wants? In the video, she proceeds to climb inside the car she wants and drives back and forth inside the showroom until her fiancé pulls out his credit card and promises to buy the car?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIqvwZyNEmE

This incident was followed by many other YouTube videos asking men and women about what worldly possessions are important to a successful match relationship in China. There is also an interesting opinion on this event in an article titled, Money Honey: The cost of dating in China, from eChinacites.com.

http://www.echinacities.com/expat-corner/money-honey-the-cost-of-dating-in-china.html

For this week's discussion, what is your opinion? Is this a bit of sensationalism by a media outlet looking to spotlight the worst of Chinese consumer behavior, or are there a significant number of Chinese available singles seeking materialistic rewards from their partners rather than love?

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Posted by Jerry Gelsomino | Topic: General

Invitation

1 Jul
2012

This was a rewarding year for me as a university instructor in Hong Kong. I enjoyed sharing what I have learned throughout my career as well as learning from my students and considering their point of view. Now as the summer months are here, I've launched a project to continue my education, and would like to ask for your assistance.

Ever since I arrived in Hong Kong, my cultural curiosity has been aroused by activities of the region. Particularly, I've been drawn to behavior that can be attributed to the deep cultural philosophy of 'Face.' More specifically, considering the new materialism that seems so pervasive in Hong Kong and China, I've launched a formal study of the subject which asks, "How does the desire to gain or improve status effect Asian consumer behavior?" and "How can retailers and brand merchandisers provide the best experience for these consumers?"

Thus far, while a substantial amount of data on the topic has been gathered, much of it is contradictory to each other. Therefore, I'd like to request the opportunity to ask for your opinion about behavior observed or reported by others. The activity will at first be limited to participating in a blog, with responses solicited when a new question is asked. Eventually, it may involve focus groups, one-on-one interviews, or interactive sessions.

I hope you view this opportunity as not only a positive contribution to research, but also a unique process of deeper understanding of your own culture.

Are you interested in participating? If so, email me and I’ll start by putting you on the contact list.

Regards,

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