The?Olympic Games held in Beijing, China represented the climax chapter in an epic story of a rebuilding country. Dozens of journalists, some of whom covered President Nixon?s historic visit to China in the 1970?s, spoke in wonder about how radically different the country is today. The bicycles of yesterday have been replaced with motorcycles and cars that scream past the Forbidden City. Chest slapping negotiations at the old world farmer?s markets have been replaced by cheering greeters at Shanghai?s new Walmart.


The buzz surrounding today?s China is impossible to avoid and has been the daily focus of countless journals and publications for the last 10 years. However, the sheer magnitude of what is happening in China cannot be conveyed in words. What we are witnessing today is of the same historical significance as the development of the Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, and the building of the Great Pyramids. A pilgrimage of tens of millions of Chinese, who have descended from rural towns and villages to find opportunities in China?s bursting metropolis, is so enormous in scale, that sociologists have called it the greatest migration (human or animal) in history. The growth and development of China is so big and so fast that it has choked global supplies of resources. Ask any architect about the global shortage of steel and the skyrocketing price of concrete and all will say one word: ?China?.

One of my favorite proverbs is “May you live in interesting times.”, which the Chinese consider a curse and has been of some historical debate in regards to accuracy. ?Historians suggest that the actual curse is, “May you live in an interesting age.”, linking a second Chinese saying that “it is better to be a dog in peaceful times than a man in a chaotic period”. ?As late as last June, I never thought that gap intelligence would somehow remotely be involved in China, but as the last few months have proven – we are living in interesting times.

While the United States is still the hotbed of consumption, manufacturers have looked to other global markets to fuel the next decades of growth. ?Four countries: Brazil, Russia, India, and China have been tagged the hotbeds of growth in the new?millennium?and the collective group is commonly referred to as BRIC. ?While the focus is clearly on BRIC, detailed information about?the countries themselves is very hard to come by.

How is retail shopping managed?

How do products flow from manufacturer to customers?

Who controls pricing?

And, perhaps most importantly: ?Where do people shop?

The thirst for information about BRIC and the absolute void of data regarding the countries has pressured many of our clients to turn to gap intelligence to collect, report, and analyze data from these regions. ?Actually, our clients didn’t turn to us for information, they pushed us off the plank to go get it – and we have.

For the last six months, gap intelligence has been building a foundation for data collection and reporting in Brazil, Russia, India, and China. ?The obstacles and hurdles that we have cleared so far have been?enormous and our work is far from complete. ?However, I am happy to announce that gap intelligence now has people combing retail outlets in China and India and we are now distributing prototype reports for printer hardware, supplies, and digital cameras that cover all four BRIC countries. ?The pictures dotting this blog post were shot by our Chinese collection team at retailers Suning, Gome, and Yolo. ?

gap intelligence in China? ?

We are indeed living in an interesting age (oh, and call Tom if you want to see the reports).