The mass movement that has become the the flood of urbanisation in China has taken off. During the CBBC China Buisness Conference at Westminster, we discussed the varying implications of the trend. While it is easy to get lost in facts and figures, the real emphasis of this movement was that it is about the people of China and meeting their needs.

Three top concerns of the individual in urbanising China were highlighted at the conference:

1. Safety- A lack of regulation and reliability in everything from baby formula to skin care products to local drinking water have left the Chinese consumer feeling very vulnerable. These fears are then combined with other health related issues such as air pollution and logistical breakdowns such as a lack of primary care infrastructure and fragmented basic universal insurance coverage.

2. Responsibility- CSR and clean business practice has taken a forefront for many consumers. They demand to see companies and brands that are giving back and contributing to the community instead of just taking. Many consumers feel they were taken advantage of and want companies to confirm respect and value for them.

3. Quality of Life- The quality of life in cities has been steadily shrinking. Not only is space at a premium (as real estate skyrockets to unaffordable levels), but so is green space. Congestion and social inequality are daily issues that cannot be avoided. Consumers now want to enjoy the life that they have worked so hard to achieve. And want to provide their family with this better life as well.

The CBBC Panel on Urbanisation

The CBBC Panel on Urbanisation

From the discussions with a very qualified panel, a few areas of rapid development in urbanisation emerged that pose great opportunity for western brands:

Healthcare: Due to accelerated ageing of the population, increased prevalence of chronic illness, the expanding middle class and emerging small and mid-sized cities demanding better quality care and the exposure to western medicine, a new market has opened for pharmaceutical, preventative, natural goods and elderly care.

Philanthropy: A new feeling of community has prompted many individuals to seek out ways to give back to those less fortunate. Although it is in the early stages, volunteering and monetary donations are beginning to spread throughout China. More noticeable is the increase in corporate social responsibility programmes developed by employers to encourage staff to participate in giving back– which is strongly encouraged by the Chinese government. Currently though, the most respected and TRUSTED charities are those that are based overseas and therefore more established and transparent.

Eco-friendly Consumer Products: Electric cars and bikes are realising great success as being “environmentally-responsible” comes into fashion. Individuals are now willing to pay more for utilities efficient structures and green space as a living environment and solar panels are being being purchased as a social statement.

Sustainable cities: As the government spree of urbanisation is in full swing, new eco-cities and revitalisations are springing up. Opportunities for builders and architects with an environmental focus are abundant as many new builds are now both LEED and BREEM certified and a large market  for sustainable clean energy is being tapped by foreign solar, wind and hydro power companies.

The creation of a sustainable city in the Tianjin Binhai area, just north of Beijing, will provide a socially and economically harmonious, energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly home to around 350,000 people. The ¥150 billion (US$22 billion), 34km2 Tianjin Eco-City will serve as a thriving model of sustainable development and green innovation for eco cities around the developing world.

The creation of a sustainable city in the Tianjin Binhai area, just north of Beijing, will provide a socially harmonious, energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly home to around 350,000 people. The ¥150 billion (US$22 billion), 34km2 Eco-City will serve as a model of sustainable development and green innovation for other Chinese eco cities.

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