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Can things be this good all the time?
Slow Chinese 每周漫闻
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Can things be this good all the time? The answer to that question, according to Yuan dynasty play-write, Yáng Wénkuí 杨文奎 is:
人无千日好，花无百日红 rén wú qiān rì hǎo, huā wú bǎi rì hóng
- A man is never happy for a thousand days, and a flower never blooms for a hundred.
In other words, no, things can’t be this good all the time.
This week we look into stories of two companies that have been successful over the years in China, but aren’t doing so well at the moment.
Conversations worth consuming: Netizen conversations mocking Pīn duōduō 拼多多 price cutting strategy
Words of the week: latest failed investment of Bǎidù 百度, recently cut 90% of jobs in its online gaming business
For Baidu and Pinduoduo, things really can’t stay as good as they were indefinitely.
Read more below!
1. CONVERSATIONS WORTH CONSUMING
Pin Duoduo - the discount king?
Pīn duōduō 拼多多 is known as China’s king of the second- and third-tier markets (下沉之王 xiàchén zhī wáng).
This is from the phrase, xià chén shìchǎng 下沉市场, which is often mistranslated as ‘sinking market’. It means anywhere outside of Tier-1 cities.
Pinduoduo first dominated as the go-to e-commerce platform in the poorer parts of China and gradually became a serious player in the first-tier markets.
One of their strategies to gain new customers is to gamify discounting. Consumers can get huge discounts (sometimes 100%). They have to invite others to help them cut prices (砍价 kǎn jià), with new customers able to kǎn 砍 more than old ones.
In a lively discussion on Weibo this week, under the tag #拼多多回应砍价99.9%称小数点后有6位# (Pinduo says that there’s another 6 decimals on the 99.9% discount), Netizens mocked the company for its aggressive but unreliable discounting strategy.
So much so, that they have invented a number of different names for the brand. None of them are complementary:
拼夕夕 pīn xī xī (the character 多 is made up of two 夕s)
坑夕夕 kēng xī xī (坑 means to trick someone)
拼刀刀 pīn dāo dāo (刀 refers to discounts, here in a mocking way)
骗爹爹 piàn diē diē (my favourite! A combination of 骗子 and 坑爹)
Try translating those! The bottom line: there is low trust in Pinduoduo as a brand.
坐实 zuò shí - to be proven (a theory or a crime)
好嘛，坑爹爹这是要坐实了 - Right, so this proves that Pinduoduo is out to deceive consumers.
死活 sǐ huó - ‘life or death’ - will not at any cost
永远砍不完，最后那一分，无论找多少人也没用，就是死活不给 - The prices will never get down to zero. That last bit, no matter how many people you ask to join you, Pinduoduo will absolutely not give it to you.
砍一刀 kǎn yīdāo - give a discount
最深的套路，就是拼多多砍一刀 - The biggest scam is Pinduoduo’s discounting strategy.
当猴耍 dāng hóushuǎ - treat as a monkey; treat someone like an idiot
把用户当猴耍。让你感觉每次只差一点，其实差了好多 - Pinduoduo are treating customers like idiots. Every time you feel like you’re nearly there [getting to zero discount]. But there’s actually still a long way to go.
大开眼界 dàkāi yǎnjiè - an eye opener (usually positive, but used negatively here - like ‘shocking’)
拼夕夕是目前唯一一个让我大开眼界的 - Pinduoduo is the only one that I am truly shocked by.
天荒地老 tiānhuāng dìlǎo - old age
砍到天荒地老，都砍不完 - It takes ages to get a discount on Pinduoduo. It’s impossible to get to the bottom [zero price].
大张旗鼓 dàzhāng qígǔ - making a fanfare
一直不明白，为什么拼多多可以大张旗鼓骗消费者? - I really am confused as to how Pinduoduo has managed to so blatantly deceived their customers?
小刀捅屁股，开了眼了 xiǎodāo tǒng pìgu, kāile yǎnle - poked in the ass by a knife, opened a hole; very surprising - ‘holy moly’
真是小刀划屁股，开眼了 - This really is shocking!
This is a Chinese pun, a 歇后语 xiēhòuyǔ
民不举官不究 mín bù jǔ guān bù jiū - the people don’t report problems, and officials don’t investigate them; turn a blind eye to something
希望官方支棱起来，千万不要民不举官不究 - I really hope that the regulators have a look at this. It can’t be ignored anymore.
2. WORDS OF THE WEEK
Where’s the ‘B’ gone in BAT?
According to a recent article in Sohu, Baidu has sacked all of it’s e-gaming staff and 90% of its live-streaming team:
Baidu has laid-off the whole gaming team, and 90% of its live-streaming team. Baidu was once by far the biggest of BAT companies, and totally dominated the online search sector after Google withdrew from China. It had virtually monopolised information flow and distribution. But, in just a few years, with the growth and popularity of the mobile Internet, Baidu has gradually been left behind.
The same can be said for Baidu in other sectors too.
Here’s some vocab to discuss the predicament of Baidu
破局 pò jú - break-through
直播电商下半场，破局之道何在？- What will the breakthrough be in the next stage of live-stream e-commerce?
草莽 cǎo mǎng - wild, uncultivated; unruly growth
直播电商经历了几年的草莽发展 - Live-stream e-commerce has gone through a number of years of wild growth.
Similar to 野蛮 yěmán - savage.
挖角 wā jiǎo - poach talent from a competitor
不少网友表示，YY 甚至开高价挖角百度主播 - Many Netizens commented that YY had even offered high salaries in order to poach live-streamers from Baidu to join the platform.
冤大头 yuān dàtóu - a person deceived on account of their generosity; become a target on account of large size
19亿美元收购91无线，简直是个冤大头 - Spending 1.9 billion USD to acquire 91 Wuxian. Baidu has made huge losses on account of its size [and inability to make good investments].
导火索 dǎo huǒ suǒ - fuse, trigger
百度裁员内幕：YY营收成导火索 - The inside story on Baidu redundancies: YY revenue was the trigger that led to the issues.
毋容置疑 wúróng zhìyí - no doubt
技术很牛，百度是个技术公司，这点毋容置疑 - Their tech is very strong. Baidu is a tech company, which is undoubtable.
Note: in spoken Chinese you will probably hear wù instead of wú.
事与愿违 shìyǔ yuànwéi - things did not turn out the way that was expected
也想在直播电商领域有所作为，但事与愿违 - Baidu also wanted to make moves into live-stream e-commerce. But things did not turn out as expected.
招兵买马 zhāobīng mǎimǎ - recruiting soldiers and buying horse - recruiting aggressively
别人的收购都是招兵买马，百度的收购则是损兵折将 - With other company’s acquisitions they acquire talent; with Baidu, following their acquisitions they have lost some of their key executives.
损兵折将 sǔnbīng zhéjiàng - lost soldiers and generals in battle; lost talent to competitors
一席之地 yīxí zhīdì - a place
百度想在竞争激烈的直播领域拥有一席之地的决心 - Baidu was determined to establish itself in the live-stream e-commerce sector.
本末倒置 běnmò dàozhì - put the cart before the horse
没有考虑到直播对品牌的长期价值，也是本末倒置 - Not considering the long-term value of live-stream e-commerce to products, is putting the cart before the horse.
人无千日好，花无百日红 rén wú qiān rì hǎo, huā wú bǎi rì hóng - A man is never happy for a thousand days and a flower never blooms for a hundred; things don’t go well all the time.
几乎处于垄断地位，但人无千日好，花无百日红，短短几年，随着移动互联网的普及，百度逐渐落寞 - Baidu was literally holding a monopolistic position. But things can’t stay that way forever. Within a few years, with the arrival of the mobile Internet, Baidu was gradually left by the wayside.
This is a line a plan by Yáng Wénkuí 杨文奎 of the Yuan dynasty.
起了个大早，赶了个晚集 qǐle ge dà zǎo, gǎnle ge wǎn jí - got up early but as late to market; was an early mover but did not capitalise on it
说百度没长远眼光吧，是国内最早布局自动驾驶领域的科技公司，但起了个大早，赶了个晚集 - Baidu does not have a long-term vision. It was one of the earliest companies to have a driverless car strategy. But although it made these early moves, Baidu did not capitalise on them and lost out to others.
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