Single is a way of life and also a business. The single way of life has quietly become a trend in China, creating continuously growing business opportunities for the “one-person economy.” Popular “single portion” food and beverage items, appliances, restaurants, mini karaoke bars, single apartments have become well sought-after in mainland cities. Apple Daily special correspondent visits Shanghai to cover this unstoppable new sensation. There is apparently a price and a market to be in solitude.
33 years old Mr. Chan has been single for three years and lives with a dog and a cat. He spends about 2,000 yuan (US$290) monthly on his pets which includes the cost of food and grooming services. He said that he buys small home appliances to avoid cooking too much. He believes that the one-person economy does not necessarily mean solitary consumption. He would not intentionally eat at a single person’s eatery because he can always eat out with friends.
26 years old Miss Wong has been single because she has yet to find Mr. Right. She said that being single is half-passive, half-initiative but she would start a relationship if she could. Although she lives with a roommate, because of different work hours, she often has to eat alone. She enjoys using her breakfast machine which can only fry one egg and toast two slices of bread at any one time, exactly the portion for one person. Sometimes, she goes to the movies alone or gets a spa which she prefers to do solo as she does not want to speak much when she is relaxing.
With the change in population structure and the rise of solitary consumption culture, the “one-person economy” has emerged. Last year, China Guoan Securities released the “Single Economic Analysis Report,” which estimated there were approximately 220 million singles in mainland China in 2017, accounting for 15% of the total population. According to data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs, since 2014, the marriage rate in China has been declining year over year. It is estimated that by 2021, there will be 92 million adults living alone in the mainland. The report summarized the four major consumption areas of singles; the spending of money to buy convenience, happiness, assurance and future.
In recent years, China’s one-person economic consumption model has blossomed and the market has been targeting the singles demographic. Born in the 1990s, Miss Ma said that even when living alone, life should still be good. According to statistics, the Chinese small home appliance market has seen an average annual growth rate of up to 12% and the market size is expected to reach 460.8 billion yuan by the end of 2020.
With the rise of solo dining, restaurants are offering single-seat tables, one-person portion meals, one-person portion hot pots, 600g packaged rice and 200ml bottled red wine.
In addition to eating, singles also have requirements for material enjoyment such as private theaters, mini spas and one-person travel services. There are more and more single-person apartments in Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen with shared kitchens and shared living rooms. The smallest room is only 86 square feet and the monthly rent is 2,099 yuan. Without a doubt, the single economy redefines what single life is and the government will likely also pay more attention to the single economy market in the future, or even slash a new path for the Chinese economy.
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