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aries1988 : consumer   12

The devil’s lottery: the perils of diving for ‘Baltic gold’

The rush for Baltic gold, which sometimes sells for more than the real thing, has been driven by consumers in China, where it is mainly used as jewellery for both men and women. From soyabean fields on the fringes of the Amazon to copper mines in the south of Congo, Kaliningrad is one of the many regions being reshaped by China’s voracious demand for commodities.

The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad is the epicentre for the world’s amber trade, with the region holding about 90 per cent of the global reserves of the fossilised tree resin. It also boasts some of the oldest amber in the world — the product of a coniferous pine forest that fell into the Baltic Sea between 40m and 50m years ago.

At the time when Mr Krupnyakov and his gang were offering their services to illegal miners, the market was booming. Amber dealers say prices increased as much as 10 times between 2012 and 2016 on the back of strong demand from China. Although used for little other than jewellery and ornaments these days, amber has been a prized commodity in China ever since the days of the Ming dynasty and is seen as carrying healing powers and good fortune.

In May last year, Hong Kong Customs seized about 50kg of suspected smuggled amber, which it said had an estimated market value of about $1.5m, making the amber worth about $30 a gramme. The white amber, dealers say, can be sold to China for as much as $40 a gramme, and if the piece is really special, up to $50 or even $100 a gramme. That is more than the current market price of gold: about $41 a gramme.

Amber jewellery for adults has gone out of fashion in the west over the past decade, but necklaces for babies have become popular, having been lauded for their ability to relieve teething pain. But after a one-year-old was strangled, the US Food and Drug Administration put out a warning in December about the safety risks of such necklaces.

The authenticity of amber can be tested by burning, drilling into or even rubbing it. If genuine, it should give off a pinelike smell. It can also be tested to see if it floats in salt water (it should), while a UV lamp shone at it should show up as blue or green. Amber divers who go out to sea at night take UV torches with them.
russia  history  today  china  consumer  death  sea  diving 
6 weeks ago by aries1988
Music in the age of the algorithm — FT.com
Distinction increasingly resides in the range of our listening, its eclecticism, not a narrow attachment to genre. Yet without a map, some sense of what we like and dislike, how do we make sense of the expanse of music stretching around us?
book  consumer  habit  data  music  online  evolution  spotify 
june 2016 by aries1988
Doughty but not superhuman
China’s consumption boom is not enough to succour the world economy
consumer  chinese  2015 
november 2015 by aries1988
Xiaomi's Ambition - stratechery by Ben Thompson
There is a younger generation, though, the Xiaomi generation, that has grown up in a country that has been growing by near double digits every year they have been alive. To their minds of course China is a global power, and why wouldn’t they embrace Chinese brands? Xiaomi is tapping into that nationalistic bent, and the red star on their mascot’s hat couldn’t be less subtle:
chinese  family  money  consumer  home  app  business  analysis 
january 2015 by aries1988
Conspicuous Consumption? Yes, but It's Not Crazy
Clearly, many rich people like to display their incredible wealth. Yet, generally, they think they know value when they see it.

Throughout the 1980s, for example, BMW and Mercedes-Benz were leaders in the market for sedans costing up to about $70,000. But wealthy motorists eventually found more choices when respected reviewers assured them that the Toyota brand Lexus offered a better car in many respects.

Each day, for instance, many of us consume espresso brews priced at what would be almost a week’s wages in other parts of the world. We’d be offended if someone described these purchases as attempts to display our wealth. And we’d be puzzled if someone said we’d buy even more lattes if our favorite cafe were to raise its prices. The coffee just tastes better, we’d say, and we’re willing to pay a premium for that.

That goal will remain elusive until we recognize that the wealthy are essentially similar to the rest of us. They just have a lot more money.
rich  money  behavior  explained  consumer  value 
november 2014 by aries1988
We Can Be Heroes
GoPro is essentially a lifestyle company more than a camera company. It relies on early adopters to live up to its marketing promises, at least enough to convince the larger market of nonextreme consumers that it’s possible that we too could “be a hero” and “go Pro.” Their exploits make GoPro seem an opportune investment for the once-a-year vacation surfer who wants to ensure that the evidence of their own occasional daring will stand out. It’s a consumer-aggrandizing ad approach perfected by the likes of Mountain Dew and Monster Energy. Only in GoPro’s case, the product actually creates the marketing materials.

But for GoPro to sustain its meteoric rise, the company cannot remain relegated to extreme sports for long. To continue to grow the company will have to try to expand the meaning of heroism. The cameras won’t stay on surfboards and mountain bikes for long. The company is already featuring family footage, concerts, and more on YouTube, pushing its lenses into the everyday. The founder has filmed the birth of his baby with a GoPro strapped to his head.
analysis  gadget  self  video  consumer 
october 2014 by aries1988
Le e-commerce, nouvelle bulle Internet
De retour de Chine, où il a « vu une vieille dame qui commandait sur Alibaba depuis son smartphone, dans la rue », Pierre Kosciusko Morizet, cofondateur de PriceMinister, l’avoue : « Cette boîte m’impressionne. » Et les milliards levés par M. Ma ne font que nourrir la légende.

De retour de Chine, où il a « vu une vieille dame qui commandait sur Alibaba depuis son smartphone, dans la rue », Pierre Kosciusko Morizet, cofondateur de PriceMinister, l'avoue : « Cette boîte m'impressionne. » Et les milliards levés par M. Ma ne font que nourrir la légende.
today  business  consumer 
october 2014 by aries1988
Why Websites Still Can’t Predict Exactly What You Want - Kaiser Fung - Harvard Business Review
All that data and still an underwhelming result. What’s happening here? It seems that it’s a matter of how the companies position personalization. They regard it as a tool for upselling–they want to push us out of our comfort zone, to buy new things, and to buy more things. To achieve that goal, the companies can’t just look at one’s historical browsing or purchase patterns. Instead, data scientists look for traits in similar customers. When you position personalization this way, you build algorithms that are based on finding variables.

But the examples I cited above about the shoes, and the bank, and the travel, are based on invariables such as physical attributes (the size of your feet), cyclical life events (paying bills), or habits (brand loyalty). The beauty of such measures is the chances of matching user to need is much higher than the chances when predicting needs based on variant behaviors.
data  consumer  today 
june 2014 by aries1988
鱼翅与中国新娘 - 纽约时报中文网 国际纵览
当我还是个孩子时,鱼翅就属于婚宴必备的菜。一有人结婚,呼噜呼噜——我们就会坐在唐人街宴会包间里,在桌上的十道精致大餐中喝到那种翅丝汤。它令人愉悦,但和感恩节肉汁一样,它只是多盐、胶稠而已。鱼翅本身实际上是没有味道的——汤的口味主要依靠鸡汤、火腿和大量的中国红醋。因为每个人都喝,所以我们也喝,而其他人的理由也都一样。

中国中产阶级消费模式若能发生改变,对于从牛肉到电力和水的一切可能商品都会产生重大影响。政府表现出对反对鱼翅消费的支持也十分关键。任何解决过度捕鱼——或气候变化或空气污染——的长期方案都需要进步的政策,以及进步的消费者。
from:kindle  food  middle-class  china  chinese  mentality  consumer  change 
july 2013 by aries1988
Mobile data usage: All consuming | The Economist
To charge for services is reasonable; to provide an ecosystem in which a customer has no way of knowing what they are being charged for what is not.
googlereader  consumer  device  iphone 
october 2012 by aries1988

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