Mar 10, 2021|

JD Data: Prosperous Consumer Trends in Lower-tier Markets


by Ella Kidron

JD Big Data Research Institute and Chinese data services enterprise Tianyancha partnered to release a report on lower-tier markets trends on Mar. 9, 2021. The report comes just as rural revitalization is front and center in China’s annual Two Sessions meeting.

Here are a few highlights:

Looking at stats from just after the Chinese New Year holiday, only 47% of people who took trains from tier 1-2 cities to 3-6 tier cities bought return tickets after the festival period. The figure reached 82% for people who bought air tickets. Among the reasons for this trend are that people staggered their visits or prolonged time spent at home before returning. Another possibility, however, is that they are planning to stay and work in their hometowns.

This is indicated by a piece of data: One week before the Spring Festival, among local orders placed by consumers under age 45 in lower-tier markets, shopping frequency was 1.5 times higher after the Spring Festival than the two weeks before it. The main categories for high frequency purchases included work and production related items, home furnishing and decoration, auto and more.

Another indication of the fact that conditions in people’s hometowns in lower-tier markets is improving is the reduction in the number of migrant children enrolled in tier 1 and 2 cities, despite the fact that enrollment of primary school-age students across the country has continued to rise since 2016. This is further verified by consumption data from JD regarding children’s books.

A comparison of children’s books and auxiliary teaching materials consumption across the country, in particular the annual order data from February 2016-2021, indicates that the growth rate of remote orders (where the sender and recipient city are different) in lower-tier cities have seen a downward trend, only increasing sharply in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

On the other hand, the growth rate of local orders in this category in mid-to-lower tier markets has increased maintained a high growth rate, and the demand for these products in lower-tier markets has been at its highest in the last five years. This is an indication that in recent years more migrant workers have moved their children’s future education plans from the big cities to their hometowns, possibly also reflecting an overall improvement in the employment opportunities available closer to home.