China’s “Comfort Class” | The Bling Dynasty, National Geographic Magazine: The first Wal-Mart in China in Shenzhen

The first Wal-Mart in China in Shenzhen

The first Wal-Mart in China is in Shenzhen, the city where Deng made his famous “to be rich is glorious” speech. This store sells all that a family needs or wants. The cosmetics area is much more plush than any Wal-Mart in the U.S. Women who work in offices will have a cheaper brand of lipstick in their homes, but carry a nice brand in their purse so they can be seen using it in public. The signs that hang overhead in this store proudly announce, “Made in China.” This is very different than the best store I could find in China 17 years ago. The best store then was a government “Friendship Store” that had a photo of a female employee on the wall with a sign underneath, “Worst Employee of the Month.” The only way you could motivate workers at that time was to shame them. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, beauty in China is seen as utilitarian. Cosmetics for instance are a major business in China and women in the China Middle see this as an important part of their lifestyle. Wal-Mart aims for the Comfort Class consumer earning between $5,000 and $20,000 a year.

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