Black swan - thoughts

Book " black swan"

Even though we're constantly making predictions about the future, we're actually terrible at it. We put far too much confidence in our knowledge and underestimate our ignorance. Our over-reliance on methods that seem to make sense, our basic inability to understand and define randomness, and even our biology, all contribute to poor decision making, and sometimes to "Black Swans" –  events we believe to be impossible but which end up redefining our understanding of the world.

Perhaps the best defense against falling into the cognitive traps we've seen is a good understanding of the tools that we use to make predictions, and their limitations.

While knowing our own limitations certainly won't save us from every blunder we'll ever make, it can at least help us to reduce our bad decision-making.

For instance, if you're aware that you are subject to cognitive bias, like everyone else, then it's much easier to recognize when you're only looking for information that confirms what you already believe to be true.

Likewise, if you know that we humans like to organize everything into neat, causal narratives, and that this kind of approach simplifies the complexity of the world, then you'll be more likely to search for further information to gain a better view of the "whole picture."

Just this small amount of critical self-analysis can help you gain a competitive advantage over others in your field.

It's certainly preferable to be aware of your shortcomings. For example, if you know that there will always be unforeseeable risks in pursuing any opportunity, despite how promising that opportunity seems, you'll probably be less inclined to invest heavily in it.

While we cannot triumph over randomness or our limited capacity for understanding the vast complexity of our world, we can at least mitigate the damage inflicted by our ignorance.

Community Group Buying as China’s Next Battlefield – Who Will take the Lead?

Understand what contributes to the success of the Community Group Buying model in China and who are the major players in the market.

While citizens worldwide wear face masks and queue up in grocery markets, the Chinese homemakers are getting fresh grocery deliveries within a few taps on their phones. Community group buying (CGB), a contact-free model started in 2016 for online grocery retail, took off during the pandemic. It now has all of China's tech giants looking for a share of the pie. In 2020, the total transaction value of China's CGB market more than doubled to RMB72 billion (US$11.2 billion).


A CGB service collates small orders from households living within approximate locations and form bulk orders to lower the unit price of the items, working as a decentralized Costco. A designated community leader, such as a convenience store owner, will form a WeChat group to list available products for delivery. Products on the platforms can range from fresh shrimps to face masks. Individuals can order through affiliate links in the group, and the orders are collated into a bulk order for the community leader. The next day, orders will be delivered to the self-pickup spot users choose, usually at the leader's convenience store. The leader gets 10%-12% of the sales commission per order through this process while bringing extra visitors to the store. 

Key factors contributing to the success of CGB


1. An integrated ecosystem


The WeChat ecosystem, which consists of WeChat Pay, WeChat mini-programs inserted into WeChat App, and 1.2 billion monthly active users, allows the efficient and scalable spread of CGB. A complete supply chain, with takeaway businesses harnessing their warehousing and distribution capacity (built from fresh grocery e-commerce, for example), makes it possible for next-day delivery and early procurement. 

2. Effective Customer Strategy

Customers in large cities value efficiency, while consumers in lower-tier cities are more price sensitive. The price sensitivity of customer groups in lower-tier cities makes CGB more attractive, which is why it became the main battlefield for CGB companies. Compared to young people living alone, a family of three tend to look for cheaper goods and stock up. Considering the buying habits of different consumer profiles, companies target bigger family sizes for CGB.  

Major Players

Statistics on demographics and consumer behaviour 

The 2020 China Social E-Commerce Consumer Shopping Behaviour Research Report from Internet Society of China showed that CGB consumers are mostly housewives aged 25 to 50 and living in second to fourth-tier cities. About 78% of the community leaders are female, married, home-based with extra time, and looking to improve the family's quality of life.  

Frequency: more than half of the CGB consumers order at least once a week, and 11% order daily.

Average Transaction Value (ATV): more than half of the orders are below RMB100 (US$15).

Category: fresh products are the most popular. 

The CGB process starts from suppliers to central warehouses, warehouse networks, pickup points and finally reaching the consumers. Such a model introduced by the CGB platforms eliminates the middleman and minimizes costs. CGB offers a vast range of product choices and contact-free and fast delivery at affordable prices during the lockdown period. Despite its rapid growth, businesses have encountered many problems in the past year:

· Many CGB start-ups tend to recruit more community leaders than they can handle to seize the market, causing unhealthy competition. 

· The market tends to be homogeneous due to the similar product structure of each brand.

· Many community leaders registered with multiple brands and promoted the most profitable one.

· The low-price strategy at the beginning impacted the traditional businesses, which called for government intervention.

· The model of online grocery shopping still poses a risk to consumers. Product quality cannot be guaranteed due to next-day delivery, while the process for refund or return remains complex.

· Most brands do not offer direct after-sales customer service. They often rely on one single community leader to support the entire group, resulting in a poor customer experience.

At the moment, the business model of CGB is at the starting phase. Replicating a successful model is impossible as major brands are still figuring it out themselves. Through sound data analysis, improvement of internal management, and customer service enhancement, companies can better understand user demand and optimize resource allocation. These factors are critical to winning a place for themselves in the CGB market.







  1. 微信生态。微信支付、流量传播、分销逐渐被大家接受,而且小程序的出现,使得各种各样的服务在微信社群中更容易使用。1.2亿的月活使得微信可以覆盖各种圈层的用户,特别是低线城市中微信几乎是除了智能手机这类硬件外渗透率最高的触点。拼多多的快速增长也验证了微信生态的强大。
  2. 供应链完善。外卖、生鲜电商等模式带来的仓储配送的前期建设,使得次日达、原产地采购对效率要求得以实现。


  1. 消费分层。一二线城市消费者更看重效率,三四线城市消费者时间充裕更看重价格,所以三四线城市是社区团购重点发力的方向。
  2. 社交化购物。小红书、拼多多、微商等社交电商的发展,验证了圈子对消费者决策的影响力。
  3. 场景化消费。在高榕资产的零售模型中讲到,不该用人作为最小粒度来理解购买行为,而应该从场景去看。比如三口之家的购买习惯和独居青年的购买习惯完全不同,三口之家更讲求实惠往往会囤货,这是社区团购的受众。 







社区团购平台 供应商中心仓网格仓自提点消费者的流通方式,极大的缩短了中间环节,节约成本。低廉的价格,丰富的品种,快速的配送,无需接触过多人群,使得社区团购能切中消费者的软肋,尤其是疫情当前。然而社区团购这几年的发展也暴露出不少问题:

1.                  不少企业为了抢占市场,盲目扩张,自身供应链却跟不上,团长招募过多,素质参差不齐,易出现内部竞争。

2.                  各大品牌的产品结构类似,同质化严重。目前各品牌的收入60%-70%来源于生鲜产品。

3.                  全凭团长推广市场,客源掌握在团长手里。不少团长同时代理多个品牌,通常优先考虑自身利益来选择品牌推销。

4.                  初期的低价抢占市场让实体企业怨声载道,公众反响差,政府出手收紧行业管控。

5.                  从线上采购生鲜这类易损坏产品对消费者来说依然具有一定风险,品质不稳定,退换不方便,单纯靠低价来吸引顾客不是长久之计。

6.                  没有直接的售后服务,全靠团长来沟通联系,反应链条过长。


Why will China change the world?

(blinkist adaptation)

Blockchaining Chicken

In the Western imagination, we characterize China by crowded megacities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen. Today, many young people move to China’s most prominent cities in search of work. Yet, 40 per cent of the population still lives in the countryside. China’s latest novel creation can be found in a remote village called Sanqiao. Here, in the impoverished mountainous region of Guizhou, you’ll discover GoGoChicken, the first blockchain chicken farm.

Enter the blockchain chicken farm. This company raises high-quality, free-range chickens. These birds sell at a premium price to wealthy diners in the coastal cities. But these consumers want a guarantee that the chickens they’re buying are the chickens that are advertised.

Each chicken is tracked and monitored from the moment it’s born until it reaches the table. A chicken’s data is compiled and stored using blockchain technology. This distributed record-keeping system makes it extremely difficult to falsify any information. So, you can scan a code and see its entire life on a special website when you buy a blockchain chicken. This way, you truly know what you’re about to eat.

Online learning is re-educating China

City dwellers have much better access to education than countryfolk. Only 10 per cent of rural residents continue education after high school. In some regions, the high school dropout rate is above 50 per cent. To remedy this, China has turned to online learning.

In 2015, an elite urban high school, called Number 7 High School, began live-streaming classes for students in rural areas in Yunnan and Guangxi. Initially, the experiment was a failure. Poor internet infrastructure and family obligations kept rural students from really benefiting from the initiative. But, three years later, 88 of these students were accepted at Tsinghua and Peking Universities. It’s unclear if the program will work on a larger scale, but this small success is promising.

Piracy or innovation tweaking?

There’s some truth to this. In China, there’s a concept called shanzhai, which is a derogatory term for pirated goods. That’s because rural mountain villages have sometimes created whole economies around making imitation products, from pirated DVDs to fake designer handbags. Of course, these shanzhai economies only work by ignoring intellectual property rights.

While shanzhai can be about creating knockoff iPhones, it can also be something more. The idea that anyone can adapt and repurpose existing ideas for their ends actually opens a whole new field of innovation. That way, creative engineers can share ideas and remix products into an astounding array of new devices, even with few resources.

Just take a stroll through the Huaqiangbei electronics market, you’ll find hundreds of small-scale companies making everything from 3D printers to simple modular cell phones you can augment and repair on your own. This massive array of incredible shanzhai shows that China’s culture of swapping, sharing, and DIY manufacturing is a type of innovation all of its own.

China’s surveillance state has both practical and ethical problems.

In the popular imagination, China is an authoritarian state where the state closely tracks everyone. It’s true that the government monitors and restricts information in the media and on the internet. But China’s actual surveillance operation is less slick than you might think.

Consider a city like Guiyang. Authorities are attempting to catalogue all the residents into a massive database. But urban villages are populated by an ever-shifting community of rural migrants, so the task isn’t easy. Even after years of work, the spotty database includes only 60,000 people.

Companies like Face++ might offer a solution. This Beijing-based start-up makes facial recognition software for private companies and the Sharp Eyes program — a government initiative that aims to use surveillance cameras to monitor public spaces. Still, despite the hype, the program has stalled. Chinese cities still have fewer surveillance cameras than those in the US. And the software isn’t always as accurate as advertised.

Often, a camera’s facial scan can misidentify a person or fail to see a face at all. Even when data collection and surveillance efforts do work, there remains a host of ethical problems. For one, these programs generally target poor and minority communities. This excessive focus can create lopsided crime statistics that unjustly stigmatize these populations. And once the system has singled someone out, their negative data can follow them for life, even as they grow and change as a person.

Internet commerce ties remote villages to the global economy.

Shangdiping, a tiny village of 900 people in the mountainous Guizhou Province, was connected to the world only through a meandering footpath through the hills. That all changed in 2018 when a paved road was built.

Shangdiping, like many remote villages, is slowly changing. It’s now a patchwork mix of traditional and modern lifestyles. Farm animals still wander the streets, but there’s a flashy new internet cafe. The town’s single restaurant has no signage or set prices, but you can pay your bill with the smartphone app WeChat.

Many of these changes result from a nationwide effort to integrate China’s rural communities into the broader economy. At the heart of this effort is e-commerce. Villages have been adapting to the internet economy. This change is fueled by the e-commerce giant Alibaba and its website, a major shopping platform. In 2013, the company launched the Rural Taobao strategy. It aimed to transform rural communities into hubs of online commerce. First, the company opened Rural Taobao Service Centers to help villagers buy goods from Then, it sent officials to teach residents how to sell goods on the website.