Taobao's hardcore fans support company's growth

Updated: 2013-04-11 07:19

By Shen Jingting (China Daily)

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Friends and family find it strange that Wang Yami, an IT office worker, thinks of March 23, 2008, as a life-changing date.

The date is neither the day of her wedding, nor does it mark any other special achievement.

But Wang insists that the date is special because that's when she registered an account on Taobao.com, China's biggest e-commerce website.

"I always tell my friends: I work to make money, and the money is to buy things on Taobao," Wang said. "Taobao is like a man for whom I have bitter-sweet feelings."

A few months ago, Wang, who previously lived in Beijing, changed jobs and moved to the eastern city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

She bought almost everything for her new place on Taobao. Items as small as light bulbs or pepper dispensers and as heavy as furniture were delivered from the online stores on the website.

Wang, who has more than 70,000 followers on her Sina micro blog, joked that she even bought some of her fans on Taobao.

Wang's Taobao addiction is quite common in China. Taobao itself calls the group the "hands-chopping people".

That's because those customers are extremely passionate about shopping online. But sometimes, they regret the money spent and say that they will chop off their hands if they buy items online again.

In a report released on Wednesday, Taobao said that the number of the so-called "hands-chopping people", or hardcore customers, has reached 1.08 million out of its 500 million registered customers.

Those customers make at least 10 transactions monthly and buy goods worth more than 50,000 yuan ($7,981) per year, Taobao said.

On average they spend 160,000 yuan each year and usually complete three deals every two days, buying about 22,000 items annually.

And among those loyal customers, men seem to be more dedicated than women.

"This may come as a surprise, but men bought twice the number of items than women on average," Li Yan, a Taobao manager, said.

Bing Zheng, a 32-year-old marketing manager for a foreign car brand, said he once had the urge to buy a milk cow online to feed his baby daughter.

"Parents now are very worried about food safety. I searched Taobao and found that I could buy a milk cow from Heilongjiang province for 50,000 yuan," Bing said.

"However, I gave up the idea, because it would be too much trouble to ship a cow from Heilongjiang to Shanghai," he added.

In the report, Taobao said that it has 12 types of customers.

The company's largest group of clients are the so-called "night fighters". That group has a population as big as the city of Beijing, with more than 22.8 million people. They usually shop online between 11 pm and 5 am.

Taobao found that regions such as the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in Southwest China - where e-commerce companies are less sophisticated - have a significant number of "night fighters".

About 680,000 Guangxi residents belong to the "night fighter" category.

"That may be because the sunset in Guangxi comes a bit later than in other regions," the Taobao report said.

Meanwhile, another category - known as "hoarders" - might become very anxious if they believe that there's a small chance that some of their favorite products will be sold out, Taobao said.

The group, which comprises 1.3 million people, is the fifth-largest in the list. People in this category like to buy goods in quantities large enough to last for a year. Henan province has the biggest number of "hoarders", and they usually buy 98 of the same items at a time on average.

Also, more than 1 million people are known as "collectors". Those customers enjoy searching for antiques, paintings or stamps online, while others are addicted to collecting instant noodles with different flavors.

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