Tag Archives: China

Who buys good products? And why?

Yoon, Y., Chastagner, K., & Joo, J. (2020). Inner-Self vs . Outer-Self and Socially Responsible Product Consumption. Sustainability, 12(22), 9362.

Abstract: This paper investigates how two fundamental consumer characteristics, self-esteem (inner-self) and status seeking (outer-self), influence consumers’ purchasing behaviors of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) products via two mediating effects: brand image and self-enhancement. In particular, we analyze these effects in two different CSR domains: environmental and social. By doing so, we are able to verify the underlying mechanisms of how different types of consumers respond to various CSR promotions. We propose a distinctive CSR consumption model incorporating both inner-self and outer-self components. We collected data from two countries, the US and China, using two commonly used online survey platforms: Amazon M-Turk and Loop Information Technology. Using structural equation modeling, our analysis in the environmental domain revealed that both inner-self and outer-self components play a significant role in consumers’ desire to purchase CSR products. Additionally, this process is mediated by the brand image of the firm and the tendency to enhance self-value. Interestingly, we found that in the social domain, self-enhancement mediated consumer characteristics and purchasing behavior of CSR product, whereas brand image did not. This indicates that environmental CSR activities increase brand value and its impact on purchase intention, while social CSR activities do not. Additionally, we found similar patterns for both US and Chinese consumers.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility; self-esteem; status seeking; brand image; self-enhancement; US; China

Is picture worth a thousand words?

Japanese draw, Chinese speak, and Koreans write. This is my temporary conclusion about how people communicate in three countries. I *suspect* Japanese draw because they intend to help readers understand messages correctly (receiver-oriented), Chinese speak because they find typing Chinese characters difficult (sender-oriented), and Koreans write because these two reasons do not apply (message-oriented, maybe).



Since Japanese like drawing, cartoon is frequently spotted in Japan. At one train station in Fukuoka, for instance, cartoon boards say that people should not throw away cigarette butts, riders should not sit down with their legs spread, women should not put up cosmetics in the train, and riders should not open up their newspaper wide.



Although cartoon is easy to understand, I wonder whether cartoon works for Chinese listeners or Korean readers.


Chinese love plastic

Chinese government tries hard to reduce plastic waste. Recently, it banned plastic waste import. According to financial times, half of the UK plastic waste need to find alternative places desperately.



In contrast, Chinese people seem to overuse plastics. In Shenzhen, for instance, plates are often wrapped with plastic packages. We should tear it down and throw it away. Sometimes, plastic gloves are provided at the restaurants. We wear the gloves when eating bread.

I suspect Chinese people are addicted to plastics probably because they consider plastics cleaner and safer than water or napkins. If we aim to reduce plastic consumption in China, we should consider the Chinese psychology about plastics seriously.




Do we need floor signage?

We now see a wide variety of floor signage. In Singapore, there is a yellow-painted footstep on the right side of the paved road at the Marina Bay. Since this road is crowded by runners, this signage probably helps them run on the right side of the road.



In Shenzhen, China, there are orange-colored lines at the subway stations. Since many people are in a hurry, these lines help them not to rush forward when the train is coming, and wait for the next train if they cannot get on.



Although floor signage is visually salient, I wonder whether this is needed to change our behavior, because we learn rules naturally. We learn how to avoid bumping into other runners when running on a narrow road and we also learn how to navigate a huge crowd to get on a train. Although I am a strong supporter of behavior economics and nudge, I believe some nudges interfere with learning. Not surprisingly, some people argue that behavioral economics are not always as effective as thought (Why nudges hardly help)(The dark side of nudging). We need to study more about which specific nudges are ineffective and how we can modify these nudges.


Private Karaoke for two people

I have long believed Asians go to Karaoke for team spirit. When a popular song appears on the screen, they show companisonship by standing up and singing all together. When a song is new, they start their own conversations with the next person. Regardless of whether they sing or talk, Karaoke is the place people confirm they are in the same camp.



However, I changed my belief about the function of Karaoke after having met a private Karaoke for two people in ShenZhen, China. This facility named as M-Bar is of the same size with a phone booth. This small place is not designed for comradeship or loyalty. Instead, it is designed for people to become absorbed in their own singing experience, the core feature of Karaoke. Although no one waits outside for their turns, a few passers by silently watch two people singing inside through the transparent windows. This facility shows the power of single households. Alternatively, different from my thoughts based on the Hofstede’s cultural dimension theory, Chinese may not be collectivist but individualist.


From Samsung 2013 to Huawei 2016

Although smartphone market is slowing down, smartphone manufacturers constantly open their stores. While I was staying in Shenzhen, China, I paid a visit to a nearby shopping mall called Yitian Holiday plaza (9028 Shennan Road, Nanshan District 南山区深南路9028号益田假日广场). As most other shopping malls do, it has a wide variety of shops and restaurants. I visited the same shopping mall 3 years ago.




In the middle of the shopping mall, I noticed that the Samsung store closed in 2013 and the Huawei store opened in 2016 at the same place. This indicates that the Chinese mobile phone manufacturer paid significant resources to massive marketing. According to the Telecom Lead report released in January 2016,

“Melissa Chau, senior research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said; “While there is a lot of uncertainty around the economic slowdown in China, Huawei is one of the few brands from China that has successfully diversified worldwide, with almost half of its shipments going outside of China. Huawei is poised to be in a good position to hold onto a strong number 3 over the next year.” Huawei became the fourth mobile phone vendor in history to ship over 100 million smartphones in a year.


LEGO-like solution for error management in hotel

Today’s travelers are not looking for a just tooth brush. They are looking for an experience, something they can relate to. Whether an environmentally conscious traveler or business traveler, guests are demanding more out of their hotel stays than ever before (see Trends Changing the Way Guests and Hoteliers View Amenities). One of the frequent requests travelers make is that they need a new personal item provided complimentary for use in the bathroom (e.g., razor) after they used one before. However, guests often re-locate many amenities, and therefore whether a specific personal item needs to be replaced with a new one or not is difficult to identify. Put differently, an accident (e.g., a new razor is not available!) can occur when a housekeeper makes an mistake or error (e.g., I thought the guests did not use a razor…). What can we do to prevent this from happening?



The Venice Hotel Shenzhen, China, solved this problem intuitively; personal items are separately packaged in the paper boxes and assembled into a kit like LEGO bricks. Doing this will help housekeepers instantly identify which personal items need to be replaced among a wide variety of items including tooth brush, comb, sanitary bag, vanity kit, sewing kit, shower cap, and razor.


What are the problems of ATM machine?

We use ATM machines to deposit, withdraw, and transfer money. However, strangers unintentionally overlook what we do when they stand behind us or next to us because they stand side by side and people queue behind us. Unfortunately, this issue has not been addressed in Korea yet. Only a tiny, low-resolution mirror is attached on top of each machine.

Differently from Seoul, Shenzhen provides safer and more comfortable experience. A orange-colored bank not only provides sufficient distance between machines but also allows users to get inside the closed space. Therefore, Chinese users feel safe while being “encapsulated.”

In fact, ATM safety is an international issue. Designers address this issue from an innovative perspective. For instance, IDEO designed humanized ATMs for the Spanish bank, BBVA. This concept was introduced in Fastcodesign.

The biggest overhaul, though, has nothing to do with the touchscreen; it’s the position of the machine itself. It’s rotated 90 degrees, forcing people to queue up next to the ATM rather than behind it — a remarkably simple solution to a longstanding problem: the ominous feeling, when you’re taking out cash, that the guy behind you is about to rob you blind.

Another interesting idea is a concept called Magic Carpet proposed by a Polish industrial designer, Judyta Wojciechowska. This concept was introduced at the Behance.

Magic Carpet is a decorative floor covering located on the footway beside an ATM. The carpet design guides ATM users as to where to stand to maintain the privacy of the person using the ATM and also to accommodate pedestrian flow. This visual guidance on the footway indicates the desired direction and distance for the people to form the queue for the ATM. If the ATM user’s private space is invaded then sensors in the carpet detect this movement and activate a vibration system beneath their feet. The vibration alerts the user to respond and the “invader” to step back. This design consequently protects the ATM user from crimes such as shoulder surfing distraction theft and pick-pocketing.

Physical Products to Virtual Image: Vending machine in Shanghai

I have been to the 1933 Shanghai, the last slaughter house on earth. Although the interior and the exterior of the building were impressive, I was fascinated by a cutting-edge vending machine in this building. Different from typical vending machines, it displays the virtual image of the beverages and snacks on the right side.


I first wondered why the virtual image is redundantly provided given that physical products are clearly displayed. However, I soon realised it has several advantages. First, it shows additional, detailed information about the beverage including its ingredients, effects, side effects, and price. Since most Chinese beverages and snacks were new to me, this additional information helped me choose the right one. Second and more importantly, it recommended me several items by putting eye-catching virtual icons on them, suggesting these beverages and snacks were popular or discounted. Indeed, virtual image can guide our behaviour toward physical products.


OCT-Loft, Chinese design hub in Shenzhen

Shenzhen is known for manufacturing in China. However, it has a cool spot called OCT-Loft where designers and creative people with different backgrounds gather, chill out, and share their ideas. According to the Protocity.com,

Located in the Nanshan District, OCT-Loft is a project of significant scope and scale. Largely designed by Shenzhen-based architecture firm Urbanus, the project renovated 209.000 square metres of disused industrial warehouse space, modelled after similar developments in Yaletown, Vancouver’s loft district. The architects see the neighbourhood as an assemblage of divergent land uses and district users: middle-class residential units, a clustering of theme park entertainment, and vacant industrial space.

The renovation is a transformation of vacancy into an artistic and cultural node in Shenzhen’s urban fabric: the scope of OCT-Loft’s development yields most of its impact through the strategic programming of space rather than through architectural innovation. The site is primarily a creativity cluster: refurbished factories and warehouses now house hubs of fine art, graphic design, interior design, architecture, costume design, and marketing.

The architects and developers of OCT-Loft envision the project to be a part of a burgeoning trend of environmentally- and socially-conscious urban planning and architectural design. Critics seem to agree, characterising OCT-Loft as a typology for urban “recycling” that reformulates the abandoned industrial relics of Shenzhen’s first developments in the special economic zone in the 1980s into centres of cultural activity, capital accumulation, and compact living.

OCT-Loft attempts to bridge the gap between underutilised structures in the neighbourhood with the residential section of the neighbourhood, drawing an explicit connexion between the cultural-spatial transformation and comprehensive mixed-use development seen within contemporary culture-led development strategies.


While I visited OCT-Loft, I met several posters. Some posters announced design events such as Creative Product Design. In this event, architect, jewelry designers, and product designers were invited to give a talk and share their thoughts and ideas.


Other posters announced to recruit designers with backgrounds of interior design, product design, and visual graphics. Interestingly, most of those posters said nationality, age, or gender do not matter. Compared to other Asian cities where the job market dramatically shrinks, Shenzhen provides more job opportunities to young creative workers.