Changing lifestyle means business

Cheming Yang
Do you cook at home? Do you cook yourself? As indicated in recent studies, the fast food and takeaway market in China is expected to reach RMB 1.8 trillion by 2017. The value of the fast food market doubled between 2007-2012 to reach RMB 1 trillion with 80% growth in outlet numbers since 2007.
I went to attend an APEC meeting in Singapore in 2009. The theme of the meeting was about emergency preparedness for bird flu. The host country, Singaporean Ministry of Health, presented the measures that they would implement at different phases of a potential outbreak. The presenter explained how they would escalate their containment measures in response to the level of epidemic. For instance, when to shut down schools, cinemas, etc, step by step. In the end, under the direst circumstances, they would need to shut down markets and food courts. At this point, the Singaporean officer who was making the presentation commented as a joke that, “No, not food court. Definitely not foot court. Singaporeans do not know how to cook. We will be all dead if food courts are closed regardless.”
This was meant to be a joke, but there is certain truth to it. In most urban settings, residents eat out a lot and hardly cook themselves. Fast food and takeaways are the reality of city life. As urbanization in China continues to thrive, this trend will definitely continue and grow. Regardless of whether you like this trend, the food industry and vendors will make a lot of money out of it.
Life style changes mean business opportunities. Judging from human experiences, you can become rich by being an inventor or being a trendsetter. But if you cannot be either, the least you can do is being a follower, in particular being an early adopter not the last straw.
This is an old joke about two shoemakers going to Africa. They saw most people were shoeless. The pessimistic one said there is no business opportunity because no one wears shoes; whereas the optimistic one saw a vast market in that every one needs a pair of shoes. We might need to add a qualifier to the circumstances. What is the trend? Are people yearning for a pair of shoes? Or on the contrary, people are doing away with their shoes.
Sure, if you are a trendsetter, you can lead people to put on their shoes or the other way around. Not everyone can be a trendsetter. But try to be a shrewd observer and follow the tide. Most likely you can enjoy the ride and not get drowned.



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