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Main Topic: Hypermarkets in Taiwan

Hosts: James Stanworth , Clyde Warden

One of the most hyper locations to go shopping are Chinese markets.  One local hypermarket chain, RT-Mart, offers products and an envrionment that mimics the hyper excitement found in wet markets.  Other foreign chains can almost appear boring, conservative and wonderfully clean and tidy in comparison.

Hypermarkets really started to take off in the 1990s as personal incomes grew.  Local chains, like RT-Mart were quick to grasp this opportunity and expanded rapidly.  Foreign chains, such as Carrefour (entering with the local conglomerate Uni-President) and Tesco (wholely foreign owned), have also been attracted to these Chinese market space.  The foreign stores brought ranges that included significant lines of imported products offered in clean well presented formats and supported by high quality customer service.  These features were considered enough to draw a large group of customers from the 'wet/traditional' markets to these attractive hypermarket locations.  Customers, though, have had different ideas and continue to shop in the wet markets whilst selectively using the hypermarket channel.  This is a pattern we have observed right through Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and increasingly to in China.  In this show we discuss how customers respond to products and the environment provided in both the hypermarkets and other formats.  

The first hypermarket movers in Taiwan were not the winners. Makro Taiwan, joint venture with SHV group from the Netherlands (55% share with remaining owned by two local firms), ran from 1988 through 1993, at its peak, running 8 stores but dropping to 6 stores at the end.

The other early local hypermarket was Kao-Fong (萬家福), owned by the ruling political party, KMT. The KMT ran numerous businesses in Taiwan, particularly in the  property industry, and at the time was one of the richest political parties in the world. However, the hypermarket businesses failed with a peak of eight stores amid fierce competition, along with a strong dose of greed. Owners left Taiwan with millions, escaping to Australia in 1992.

Understanding the local shopping pattern is the key to success for the foreign companies.

The Show:

Length: 46 minutes. Download MP3 20.61MB (Right click->Save As).


Consumer Cam ConsumerCam:

Vid. 1) Here Carrefour attempts to copy the traditional (wet) market look and feel. This basic approach to display lets customers touch, taste and evaluate products.
Vid. 2) Carrefour here has a person hawking a repair glue product. These stands are very similar to night market settings and include loud speakers/bull horns and quickly gather crowds.
Vid. 3) Geant supermarket entrance with numerous stalls selling products that may even compete with products within the store. These stalls crowd in the entrance, adding to the feeling of the store being busy and exciting.
Vid. 4) Geant's first floor of general merchandise, including an electronics section, clothes, hardware, and furniture. Tight isles and a lack of any decoration, beyond sales signs, are typical, along with overall building design (check out the ceiling) that would turn off most Western shoppers.

Show Links:

Bottom Line:

  • A complaint board is set up at Tesco’s (In English & Mandarin), It’s a place where foreigners can relate. It’s a home away from home.
  • RT-Mart is unpopular among the foreigners due to the localness. I.e. narrow aisles, unorganized product displays.
  • RT-Mart is not designed for slow organized shopping. People shop with impulse and without a shopping list.
  • RT mart has a wide range good fresh section. Ready made religious packages are available.
  • Some hypermarkets have a special import goods section, most consumer don’t show too much interest in foreign products.
  • Hypermarkets are still testing the attractiveness of foreign products market.
  • At some stores, demonstrators are available to introduce and educate the new foreign products.
  • Carrefour are well adjusted and cater for the local shopping pattern.
Category: Podcasts

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