Bryce Whitwam
Apr 21, 2022

How wider consumer trends are emerging from Shanghai's lockdown

SHANGHAI ZHAN PODCAST: Chinese agency strategy experts from McCann Health and Ogilvy predict the whole China market will be impacted by the recent Shanghai lockdown, creating both challenges and opportunities for brands.

Shanghai's Covid lockdown continues with officials scrambling to organise food, waste management and testing for 23 million people. 
Shanghai's Covid lockdown continues with officials scrambling to organise food, waste management and testing for 23 million people. (Shutterstock)

Expect longer term market challenges and emerging consumer trends to arise from the recent Shanghai Covid lockdown, impacting not just the city, but the entire country. 

“People will either go in two extremes when the lockdown eventually finishes”, says Henry Shen, chief strategy officer for McCann Health Greater China, based in Shanghai. “They’ll either go ‘Carpe Diem’ and want to re-live their past lost experiences, or they’ll become very conservative, using online ecommerce platforms to hoard products to save for a rainy day."

“Overstocking will be a thing of the future, says Arjun Paul Vedanayagam, strategy director at Ogilvy Shanghai. “We have already seen a huge spike in refrigerator sales across the country."

Both Shen and Vedanayagam point out that Covid habits from the 2020 lockdown will continue to expand during this lockdown, especially cooking and exercise. Shen pointed out the transformation will be particularly felt by the post-80s and 90s generation who were born in an era of abundance but now are forced to the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, facing challenges for food and water.

“Many people in Shanghai used to live a luxury life, but now it’s about living with what you have, rather than what you don’t,” says Shen.

L-R: Henry Shen & Arjun Paul Vedanayagam

But there are positive outcomes to the lockdown and Shen encourages Shanghai not to waste a crisis. “For many born in the 80s and 90s in Shanghai, connected to virtual worlds and technology, it’s their first moment to experience a community and connect with their neighbors because they are now forced to work together to order food.”

Shen and Vedanaygam's full interview is available on the Shanghai Zhan podcast, a "raw, lively, and regular debate about China tech, advertising, creativity and the intersection of it all", hosted by Ali Kazmi and Bryce Whitwam. The podcast is now available now on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogleStitcherAmazon Music, Xiao Yu Zho and via RSS.

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