YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS STEP UP AT TAOBAO MAKER FESTIVAL
Alibaba Group kicked off its second annual Taobao Maker Festival this weekend, spotlighting the young entrepreneurs that have become a prominent and ever-growing presence on China’s largest e-commerce platform.
The five-day event in Alibaba’s home base of Hangzhou brought together 108 millennial merchants—and thousands of attendees—to show off innovations and creations from this up-and-coming generation.
“This year, we hope to further promote this ‘Maker Youngster’ spirit,” Alibaba Chief Marketing Officer Chris Tung said in a statement, “recognizing it as the key driving force behind a generation of Chinese entrepreneurs and customers who place originality, quality and human well-being at the center of consumption and their way of living.”
China’s “young generation,” those born after 1980, comprise the core users of Taobao. And they have become a major part of the country’s economic growth as well. According to Boston Consulting Group, these college-educated, sophisticated shoppers outspend their parents and grandparents by as much as 40 percent in many product categories. And they are on track to drive a 55 percent expansion in China’s consumption spending over the next five years.
For this key demographic, the days of merely buying staples have passed. Now, they are looking for unique, high-quality goods that allow them to express their identities. While some of them are buying those products, others are making them.
One trait among this new generation of entrepreneurs, said Tung, was that the concept behind a product—say, sustainable design—was vivid and well-developed enough to attract other young people sharing similar passions and interests. “Young attracts young,” Tung said.
Alibaba also used Taobao Maker Festival to showcase some of its latest technologies, including its recently announcedTmall Genie virtual assistant and the Tao Café. The Tao Café is an experimental cashier-less coffee shop that allows customers to shop without queuing to pay.
The participation among merchants was up 50 percent from last year’s Taobao Maker Festival, where 73 of them had gathered in Shanghai. This year, in addition to the event in Hangzhou, Alibaba held a simultaneous Maker Festival in Taipei, Taiwan.