200 million Chinese singles boost the ‘lonely economy’

Solo living has become the second common way of life in China. According to the latest data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs, there are about 200 million single adults in China, with 77 million living alone. This loneliness number is expected to reach 92 million by the end of this year.

Either by choice or being forced into this situation, living alone comes with a lot of responsibilities, choices, and of course, plenty of alone time. When first living by oneself, many people start paying more attention to their self-care – making the home comfortable, figuring out personal lifestyle, or finding a good “companion” such as a pet. The need for one to settle down and enjoy solitude has led to and boosted the “lonely economy” – businesses that bring pleasure to being alone.

For instance, pets are becoming extremely popular amongst Chinese singles who live on their own. The 2020 Chinese Pet Industry Consumer Report shows that the pet population (cats and dogs) in urban China has reached 100.84 million, and the pet market size hit 206.5 billion RMB ($31.97 billion) in 2020, increasing by 2% compared with the previous year. Now 58.4% of single people in China have at least one pet. They generously spent the money saved from dating and gifts on their beloved cats or dogs, hence boosting the pet businesses.

The lonely economy also includes producing vlogs that are dedicated to solo activities, such as a single person cooking or eating. The well-furnished home and carefree lifestyle presented in the videos often attract those who are living alone. On Douyin (China mainland’s version of Tiktok), clips under #LivingAlone have gained around 47.46 million views. Such videos have become the models of being happy alone and formed an almost unnoticeable way to sell products to young Chinese consumers.

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