Research indicates that Beijing residents bought more than one sixth of all face masks sold over Alibaba’s online shopping platforms in 2014, highlighting the severity of the capital’s pollution problem.
According to Xinhua, the research was carried out by AliResearch and AliHealth, companies belonging to Jack Ma’s Alibaba group. Coming hot on the heels of Beijing’s second airpocalypse of this year, the findings will come as a surprise to few.
Jiangsu Province in eastern China and Shanghai municipality joined Beijing to form the top three regions for mask consumption. The northeastern province of Heilongjiang, which ranked the ninth, saw the largest year-on-year increase of 200 percent in 2014.
Consumers from the wealthy Guangdong, Fujian and Hainan provinces, where air quality is relatively good, showed higher per capita consumption amounts.
Online consumption of health-related products and services reached 65 billion yuan ($10 billion) in 2014, an increase of 62.5 percent year on year. This was matched by an increase in the number of online consumers, surging from 68.2 million to 101.1 million. Heavy users that spent over 5,000 yuan per annum on health products increased by 68.9 percent.
Sales totals are likely to be even larger for 2015 as the Wall Street Journal reports that online sales of air masks spiked during Beijing’s red-alert this year. On Taobao there were 606,031 searches for face masks from November 30 to December 6, representing an increase of 141% compared to 2014.
Xue Yan, a senior analyst at AliResearch, said wealth growth, aging population, urbanization and environmental change were the main causes of rapid growth in the online health market.