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  • Try to Step Out of “Man-made” Expats World

    Post by : expatree


More than 10 years ago, most local Shanghainese were surprised to see Expats walking through the streets. In their mind, tall, blond hair and light blue eyes are attractive and exotic characteristics. Even more, many locals daydreamt about expats’ lifestyle in Shanghai as the evident difference is so attractive. Time goes back today, expats flooded Shanghai from different countries. However, the sad truth is that these expats only take with them back home as the picture of Shanghai are only a few Mandarin phrases, favorite local dishes, or exclusive festival culture, nothing else left. It’s already a big step forward when a foreigner pointed at Japan in the map while saying “I am going to China”, but the fact shows there is an invisible wall between expats and locals’ life in Shanghai. In a nutshell, the integration of expats into local life society and community is still a far from happening.

In our official research report, White Paper: 2012 – 2013 Expats Daily Life Behaviors, we put a much weight on the concept of “What expat people are looking for in Shanghai?” and “What’s expat people interest in Shanghai?” We would like to share overall results and emphasize on expats’ life in Shanghai together.


Generally speaking a variety of events and products attract the most attentions of expats. It’s not hard to understand that “Leisure” activities keep the head position of listing. To our surprise, it seems people have no high passion to look for food and beverage, but there is an acceptable reason. There are always plenty of western restaurants, bars, food import supermarkets fully provide desirable food and drinking to meet expat taste, those nearby expat resident communities such as French concession, Pudong international villa etc, and in a sense it nearly reaches saturation point in this market.



1)      Top 5 Product Categories

Along with lots of individual expat designers were born in Shanghai, it becomes more competitive in the Fashion market but it still cannot stop this enthusiasm of seeking beauty by women. “Housing” and “Books” are right behind it, particularly useful travel guide is very popular. Also we are glad to see a new phenomenon, more and more people start to pay attention to “Eco-friendly” and “Pets” relevant products, it reflects expat people try to fetch “deja vu” lifestyle and concepts of home countries in Shanghai.



2)      Top 5 Food & Beverage Categories

Chocolate is a leading runner of this category, then others share the rest. Except Chinese tea, it’s a pity that other Chinese traditional food is not listed there. We believe most expats had a try on local dishes, someone eventually cannot accept the flavor for example Chinese noodle, but it’s not the majority reasons. As above the expat residence areas are already wrapped by western style restaurants and supermarkets, there is no many choice on local food. Also without Chinese friend’s recommendation, it’s a bit risky of ordering unknown food that might be never interested in anymore.



3)      Top 4 Leisure Categories

“What are you doing in your spare time?” We can always hear these two words: “Travelling” and “Market” when expats are questioned. During our research, we discover short term travel program is welcomed against long term’s; compared with historical site people get more interested in natural areas. Thanks to travel guide book people always prefer to choose self-service trip to the nearby places. Go back to “Market” category, we remembered there was few expat-oriented bazaar and market opening 10 years ago, but now they replace shopping mall, becoming one shopping heaven for expats.



4)      Top 3 Event Categories

In Shanghai sometimes expats are dazzled by the gaiety and splendour of the metropolis. “Too many choices make you have no choice”, that’s true. We summarized 3 categories to explain how these events enrich people’s life. In “Night Life”, “Restaurant Special Event”, “Musical & Dancing Events” always catch more eyes, unfortunitely local restaurants and traditonal cultrual performance are absent again in this listing. Except the particular workshop for the kids, “Mandarin Lesson” and “Cooking Class” occupied almost time of interest on “Workshop & Class” category. On the other hand, as the pace of life continues to increase, we are fast losing the opportunity of expanding functional social networking, individual network is only limited to regular working or friendship circle, same country with common culture. It’s kind of inactive to know new person, even never touching local Chinese social group.

On our position of the view, we are feeling it looks we have 2 independent worlds in Shanghai, one is local Chinese group, the other one is expat community. While local Chinese influence began to filter into expat group, and trying to understand all aspects of demanding, in opposite expat people just keep stand alone. Obviously no matter restaurants, markets and various activities, they are particularly created for expats not local Chinese, so we called “man-made”. We are not opposing these “man-made” expat-oritend services because they definitely make expats’ life in Shanghai easier and comfortable. Just we hope after several years when you come back home country, besides the times you spent western lifestyle, you could be pround of what’s you exactly learned from locals, then telling your friends or family the real story of Shanghai.

*For an inquiry of the breakdown of this report, please send the request to info@expatree.com
Date:2013-10-31 10:44:19
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