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How entrepreneurs are booming in China

CHINA, 05-21-2010

In growing low-tier Chinese cities, people are looking for fresh ways to spend their money, and enterprising locals are opening businesses to cater to them.

Local entrepreneurs usually have the big city training and experience to bring enticing modern urban services back to their hometown.

They also know that their customers need some familiar added value elements to make adopting new habits easier. Ling Pao Total Fitness Gym has signed up more than 3,000 members in just over a year, with plans to expand (the boss lives in Guangzhou).

“As our city develops, we should develop,” says Huang Qiu, manager of Ling Pao. “Exercise makes life better.” But exercise can be hard. So besides a broad range of exercise machines and fitness classes like yoga and spinning, Ling Pao features billiard tables and Internet terminals for budding fitness enthusiasts that need a break.

SK Beauty is a salon franchise on the rise, actually expanding up a tier, from Yiyang to Changsha.

Of course SK’s top-tier trained stylists give sophisticated coiffures. The local twist? Customers can indulge in online gaming or massage while they get a haircut.

Huang Qiu says her most important demographic is young adults age 20-30. Young working adults have more money to spend than students, no children, and no campus facilities or student life activities to fill out their schedule. And in low-tier cities, the increased importance of personal relationships and family mean that older peers have more influence over their young buddies than in first-tier cities.