Price Rules in China Market

Guess why so many people are queuing in Hymall (a big local shopping mall like Carefore Carrefour) in Pudong?


© Jian Shuo Wang

They are waiting to buy eggs.


© Jian Shuo Wang

I am not kidding. They still need to wait for more than 40 minutes to be able to buy eggs – cheap eggs.

The secret behind the scene is, the egg is on sale. The eggs will be sold at 2.50 RMB per/500g. According to the rule, only the first 200 customers were served. Everyone has allowance of 1kg of eggs only. The noon session starts at 13:30. (It was only 12:50 when I took the picture.) Many people have been waited there for a long time already.

So people may have some idea of how sensitive people are to prices of goods. Even the smallest change in price will trigger great demand. This is particularly obvious in Shanghai.

The rule also applies to Real Estate industry, the mobile industry and almost everyone in China market.

21 thoughts on “Price Rules in China Market

  1. How much of a price decrease was the 2.50 price? How often does the store offer promotional prices such as this?

    …just curious.


  2. I cannot say for sure how of a price decrease this promotion represents. However, there are several factors going on to make for lines like this.

    1. Many in China are dirt poor. I live in Shanghai, and the one rmb buses are twice as crowded as the 2 rmb bus. It does make a difference.

    2. The retail market for big box developments and malls is largely saturated, so the idea of a loss leader sale is catching on very fast. I have noticed several around town, in Carrefore and Hymall alike.

    3. I saw several old women fighting over loss leader priced cabbage this winter. This was at a Hymall in QiBao town, near the Hongqiao airport. To honor the opening of the store and steal competition from another similar retailer only 500 meters down the road, the Hymall sold several staple vegetables at about half of their normal cost. Near riots ensued. Many people shoved and pushed to get at the product, and argued viciously with the stock clerks when the supply ran out, while the near estatic victors carried off their meager rations like loot from a temple. Ugh. It was an eye opener…

  3. nirmalya, i agree with you!

    it’s the shanghainese mentality to always get the best deal, not necessarily to minimise expenses, that causes a very price elastic demand.

    honestly, i don’t like this type of shopping habits. many local aunties have really terrible behaviours as shopppers in supermarkets.

  4. What is the original price for eggs? Well, I don’t know because Wendy is the Purcurement Manager in my family and I don’t worry about it. It should be something around 3.00 RMB / 500g I guess. Next time when I visit Hymall, I will check it out.

  5. Good marketing if the customers also buy something else while they are there or return because they find they like the shop or feel it has more bargains.

    I think it is the same the world over people like a bargain.

    Maybe the patience for queuing varies from country to country though.

    Our local Tesco’s is selling very cheap bread but a notice says that the offer is limited to 5 loaves per person – otherwise the sandwich bars, cafes, and people with large freezers clear the shelves early in the morning.

  6. “CARREFOUR not Carefore”, yeah, it is French, means Crossroad, “Shi Zi Jie Tou” ,:-)

  7. ….Near riots ensued. Many people shoved and pushed to get at the product, and argued viciously with the stock clerks when the supply ran out, while the near estatic victors carried off their meager rations like loot from a temple. Ugh. It was an eye opener…

    PP’s observation is really funny, but is also something that makes one feel really heavy after the initial light chuckle…

    It is damn true. Many in China are dirt poor. Yesterday in a restaurant, while waiting for my dish, I saw a middle-aged woman came in and ordered for a one-yuan bowl of rice. Seeing that she was putting soy sauce on the rice for some flavor, the restaurant owner was kind enough to offer her a cup of tea. I then realized that it is not that she ordered rice first, rice is all that she ordered for a lunch! She was carrying a stack of newspapers. I was pretty sure that she might be one of the many xiagang gongren and who took up selling newspaper for a living. I hesitated if I should order one dish for her but eventually didn’t do it, for I didn’t know if I would offend her. On the table beside her, was covered with leftover dishes, many of them barely touched by other guests.

    Seeing that view gives one a pang of sadness. And you come easily to understanding why the “meager rations” do carry loot value, to MANY IN THIS COUNTRY.

  8. Is it illegal for the citizens of China to make a group of persons who arranges collection of clothes and collecting money to give to the people in deep need of that ? Maybe, I have not seen any.

    Outside the fancy hotels you can see 2-4 year old kids displaying their naked dirty bodies, stretching out the hand for a jiao or two. Meanwhile the grandmother sits a bit behind, fully dressed and wathes the kid… That’s a way of living for some here in Shanghai.

    If it is ok to collect such things, I think De Sade should begin to do so !

    And by the way, tell the mother that it is humiliating to send out an innocent child to do begging like that. Children are so easy victims.

  9. Noticed something interesting… it’s 2.50RMB per 300g as shown on the price tag on the 2nd picture. Or perhaps 斤 and 公斤 means the same in China? ;)


  10. This bit from ‘The Guardian’ newspaper shows how consumers treat the big supermarkets if they get it ‘wrong’ with their marketing:

    ‘In Safewayland, however, Wednesday was the busiest day of the week. This was a result of Safeway’s leafleting campaigns, advertising loss-leading special offers every Wednesday. The idea was to pull in shoppers who would then stay to do their weekly shop.

    The actual outcome was that canny shoppers with an eye for a bargain nipped down to Safeway that very day, snapped up the special offers and nipped straight back home again.’,3604,1253082,00.html

    Anyway I hope the eggs are still being discounted!

  11. It seems the original price is 3.0 RMB per 500g. Since every customer can buy only 1000g of discounted eggs, so they waited there only to save maxium of 1 RMB.

  12. It also seems that citizens in Shanghai have time to queue for saving only 1 RMB!?

    Forgive me if I said anything wrong, God.

  13. Hello, Jian Shuo

    Do you mind if I post an advert here?

    There will be a T.H.E carnival which conducted in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia in 17 and 18 of this month. If you are in Selangor, Malaysia. You are welcome to join this terrific event which is conducted once a year and its admission is totally free. I will help serve this carnival. There would be approximately 5,000 people in this carnival. Parents can bring their children to enjoy playing games and food. For more info, visit if interested. Thanks.

  14. Hello Jian Shuo

    Thanks. You are very kind.

    I have noticed the alternative texts for the two pictures above. One is “shanghai-waiting-for.egg.jpg” and one other is “shanghai-people-egg.price.jpg”. I read like this “Shanghai is waiting for eggs.” and “Shanghai people and eggs and price”. Just a joke. :)

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