dear lily

Dear Lily,

When I first saw you, the “romantic Italian and dignified French style” of your place captivated me. Actually, I became a bit confused, since I sometimes had the impression of being somewhere else, neither teleported to a harmonious Toscana village, nor to a delicate villa in the Normandy. The “elegance and subtleness of your Mediterranean architecture” drove me rather to some other anonymous city: Zhenzhou, Hefei, Deqing or Haining, to some other similar compound also produced by Greentown, one of the top 10 Real Estate Groups in China[1].

How can the standard Chinese megacity turn out to be even more mega-standard? The strategic tool for these developers is the Model: a magic formula combining housing and public image, repeated all over the country. Common features reiterate, whether Hopson, Shimao, Evergrande, Vanke or Coli are the assemblers. Lily apartments have numerous twins: the Rivieras, Oasis, Splendors, Rosegardens… These homogeneous complexes differ only on diverse niche products, which have been carefully detected. What can we learn from the supply-demand market of housing, regarding dwellers’ needs in current urban China?

After analysing the G-10 of the Chinese contemporary Real scene, four strategies are to be highlighted:

First, as far as Geopolitics is concerned, Hopson prefers to focus in the 3 Chinese metropolitan areas (Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou). Meanwhile, Evergrande ventures himself to set up residential units in 22 second-tier cities, following the official “Going West” policy: Chongqing, Xian, Kunming, Chengdu… These new unknown urban centres are quickly becoming decisive for national economics, relieving oversaturated Shanghai. Diplomacy also plays an important role for the Hong Kong-based Coli. In order to “grace China” for letting them operate in Mainland, they are philanthropy masters.

Second, “the creators of perfect lifestyles” stand for marketing a public image. Every Western allure is subject to be duplicated, in form of French neo-Royalty or a Mediterranean patio, branding “art, elegance and culture” for the sake of luxury. Consequently, their Architecture and public space develop together with their bombastic slogans; Shimao’s theme park gardens blossom in every decent Chinese compound, making olive trees, Louis XVI mazes, and Hawaii coconuts distort the perception of place – unused gardens simply pretending to be.

Third, target customers are generally city-based consumers with high earning power. However, Vanke has found another niche product in the growing middle-class. In addition, Hopson leads the supply of custom-made services for dwellers through its on-line community (banquets, delicacy order, education…).

And finally, anticipating to future developments or decreases, every G-10 company is amassing vast land reserves as a secret weapon to shock the world. But Lily, don’t be overwhelmed about the future! It seems that star Jackie Chan launching compounds is being gradually replaced by starchitects launching Real Estate headquarters.

Looking forward to…“making your dreams come true”.

[1] According to the last ranking report for the Q3 2009, recently released by CRIC China Information Technology Co. Ltd.

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