New Tool Illustrates the Scale of China’s Cities

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Shanghai-based marketing and research agency, China Skinny, has launched an interactive online tool, the City-Nator, to help users appreciate the opportunities that exist in China’s cities.

When talking about the Chinese market, the majority of foreign businesses tend to focus on China’s mega-cities, such as Shanghai and Beijing. However, China Skinny's analysis shows that the lion’s share of China’s growth and subsequent opportunities are coming from China’s ‘smaller’ cities.

China Skinny founder Mark Tanner said: “Businesses across the world are looking to the huge opportunities in China, but the prospect of doing business here can be daunting, even for those familiar with the country.

“China Skinny aims to provide businesses with insights and understanding into the markets and opportunities here. Our new City-Nator tool offers a quick and compelling insight into the depth and potential of the Chinese consumer market that they might not otherwise have been aware of.”

The City-Nator demonstrates the size and scale of China’s cities by inviting users to compare their own city’s population with the number of Chinese cities that have more people. The cities are illustrated on a map of China, listing the combined value of retail consumption and number of workers. Here are some results from using the tool:

  •     There are 113 cities in Mainland China with more people than the San Francisco Metro area’s 4.5 million
  •     Berlin has less people than 157 cities in Mainland China
  •     Australia’s biggest city, Sydney, would be the 111th largest city if it was in China
  •     110 Mainland Chinese cities are more populous that Singapore, and spent a combined $1.95 trillion on retail in 2012

“Growing up in New Zealand, my country was the centre of my world,” says Mr Tanner. “It was only after moving to China and discovering that 114 Mainland Chinese cities had more people than New Zealand, that I got a true appreciation of the opportunities that these cities present to exporters.”

“And it’s a market that experts expect will just continue to grow. Over the next decade, China’s middle class is forecast to soar 275% to 630 million consumers, and McKinsey predicts 84% of those people will live outside of the Tier-1 cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Boston Consulting Group expects China’s affluent consumers, those from households earning between $20K-$1 million a year, will grow to 220 million consumers by 2020. 75% will live in ‘smaller’ cities. Those are the consumers with the means and inclination to buy imported goods, so foreign businesses should take note,” Mr Tanner said.

“We also know that consumers from smaller cities can now be effectively reached through websites and social media, and spend significantly more while shopping online than those in the larger cities,” says Mr Tanner.

From the 250 million Chinese consumers who will shop online this year, the average shopper in a 4th tier city in China will spend 50% more of their disposable income on eCommerce than in Tier 1 cities. In 2012, consumers in smaller cities made online purchases 39% more regularly than Tier 1 & 2 cities and spent ¥6,000 (US$980) on average versus ¥4,700 (US$767).

“Knowing where those markets are is essential to any marketer or business hoping to realise the full potential of China’s huge market.”

China Skinny’s City-Nator provides a visual and enjoyable way to understand the scale of the opportunities across China’s cities. Try it at

About China Skinny
Shanghai-based China Skinny is one of the fastest growing marketing and research agencies in China. It has established itself as a leader in understanding the ever-changing Chinese consumer insights, trends and best practice. China Skinny regularly provides views and commentary about the Chinese market in mainstream media, and through its newsletter. With a readership of almost 10,000 Westerners, the newsletter is the most-read English weekly about marketing to China. More information at

About the China Skinny City-Nator
China Skinny’s online tool compares populations of cities around the world with Chinese cities’ populations, number of workers and retail expenditure using data provided by the National Bureau of Statistics of China as at December 2012. The City-Nator can be used in English and Chinese.

Mark Tanner
China Skinny
Founder & Managing Director

E: mark(at)chinaskinny(dot)com
W: http//
P: +86 21 3221 0273
M +86 182 1769 1886
O: Suite 805, 69 Yanping Road, Shanghai, China

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