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A Billion Customers…Myth or Miracle?

The first thing many eager businesspeople learn about China is that, well, there are not “over a billion” consumers waiting for them. After some initial disappointment they often appear happy to find that there are still A Lot of Chinese people who may want to buy their goods and services. Numbers vary depending on the business, but a few hundred million customers is enough to satisfy most people.

Nevertheless, “billions” do appear more and more often in relation to customers, mainly at holiday time. This Chinese New Year we leaned that there were 12 billion (!) text messages sent. At around RMB0.1 per message, there is a lot of profit to be made. It is also reported that the railways moved 1.154 billion passengers last year (though, one suspects, with the help of some return journeys). There is even a new book on the market: “A Billion Customers”, which is a good read…but whose title (if not content) may raise some expectations a little too high.

For the meantime we will stick with hundreds of millions…

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