January 27th, 2011
06:27 AM GMT
Beijing (CNN) - When it comes to labor rights, collective bargaining is forbidden in China. But if you're talking shopping, it's all the rage.
Group buying, or tuan gou in Chinese, is wildly popular across the country. Groupon of the U.S. isn't here yet but over a thousand local websites are. These sites offer similar services– hooking up China's 140 million online shoppers looking to buy the same thing and negotiate hefty discounts.
The Chinese have taken the concept and run with it. Sites like Lashou, Meituan, and Teambuy are selling everything from cars to home furnishings, to the homes themselves in bulk.
Teambuy manager Feng Junmeng told me, "People here have a tradition of haggling. And nowadays, just one person can't get prices down much. With group buying you go in together and get far better deals." In other words, Feng believes group buying is made for China.
Group buying is an outgrowth of a popular trend here– discount shopping. Young people, nicknamed the "Coupon Generation" for their penchant to clip coupons, are obsessed with e-retailers such as Taobao and 360buy. Office worker Jin Fen, 26, said he spends an hour and half every day trolling the web for bargains. He bought an Audi with four strangers in a group deal last October and managed to save over $1500. "My family was so thrilled," he says. "They told all their friends."
Jin is spreading the gospel of spending in China's evolving consumer culture.
About Business 360
CNN International's business anchors and correspondents get to grips with the issues affecting world business, and they want your questions and feedback.