The paradox: the Chinese are notoriously price-conscious and have a lack of loyalty to brand. And yet, in the name of nationalism, the Chinese pick the most obvious French brand, Carrefour, to boycott. I thought y’all didn’t care about brand. People aren’t buying French goods anymore. So they are both price conscious and loyal to the China brand. What happens when the foreign brand is cheaper?
It irks me that it takes living in China a whole lifetime to know what the market price for a good is. Several stores in the same neighborhood can easily have radically different pricing on the same product and easily stay in business. And yet, the Chinese all seem to have an innate ability to price something so that they don’t get cheated by different prices. A bottle of water? 1 kuai. Any more and you’ve been cheated. 10 potstickers? 5 kuai. A small painting? 100 kuai. A cab ride to the airport? 110 kuai. I can deal with bargaining, but the non-transparency of the overall system drives me nuts.
The back gate area of our school is a great example of China’s development. When we first arrived, there was one store on the corner (a milk tea shop) that had a “nice” exterior with lighting and bright colors. Now, one by one, the stores are renovating. In fact, it’s literally one by one down the street. If your neighbor renovates, then you renovate the next week out of peer pressure. Now, the gritty alley white bathroom tile that defines the back gate experience is being replaced by colored plastic signs with lighting. Prices are inching up as well. The milk tea spot started charging an extra kuai per cup (that’s a 33% increase in price). The potsticker place raised its price one kuai as well (25% increase). Any dish with meat in it has gone up two kuai most places. Inflation before your eyes!