China / Politics

Premier's convenience store buy sparks shopping craze

By Liu Xiaoli in Haikou and Yan Yiqi in Hangzhou (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-13 04:00

People's enthusiasm to copy top leaders' shopping choices might be a new driving force in the consumer market, a sociology expert said.

On April 11, Premier Li Keqiang visited a convenience store in Haikou, capital of Hainan province, and bought a package of coconut crisps and coconut milk rolls that cost 19 yuan ($3.05).

News of Li's purchase spurred a shopping frenzy among consumers seeking the "Premier Package", the two snack foods produced by Wenchang Chunguang Foodstuffs, a local food manufacturer.

Wu Sisi, a sales manager at the company, said sales of the two products have been extremely high since then.

"By May 10, we sold more than 1 million sets of the package within a month, almost the same amount we sold in all of last year," he said.

Wu said the company has tripled production of the two products, but is still falling short of demand.

"Supply is far behind the growing demand. Packages of the products are sold out the same day they are put on shelves," he said.

In the convenience store Li visited, samples of the package are prominently displayed along with a picture of the premier shopping in the store.

Store owner Xiao Jianbiao said Li's visit has brought surging sales.

"On the day he visited more than 6,000 sets of the snack food were sold, and 8,000 sets were ordered. I expected the sales would be good after the premier's visit, but not that good," he said.

Xiao said that even a month after the premier's visit, sales of the "Premier Package" are still steady, with 90 sets sold on Monday morning.

It is not the first time shoppers have mimicked top leaders' shopping choices.

In December, President Xi Jinping visited a Qingfeng Steamed Stuffed Bun restaurant in Beijing and ordered a set meal of buns and side dishes for 21 yuan. Later, people rushed to the restaurant to order the "Presidential Combo".

Wang Xiaozhang, a sociology professor at Zhejiang University, said that people's inclination to copy top leaders' shopping choices can be a new driving force behind consumption.

"The public always sees it as an honor to enjoy the same products as top leaders," he said. "Especially when such products are affordable, such as the 19-yuan coconut products, the rush to buy can be unimaginable."

Wang said since the top leaders' choices are often local specialties, this may also boost local tourism.

"It also means that Chinese people have strong faith in their leaders," he said.

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