Shopping the Globe: Shanghai
Richard Chang in Retail, Shopping the Globe

A new Diesel flagship, for which Gensler was the architect-of-record, brings global fashion to Shanghai’s savvy consumers. Photo © Gensler

There’s a saying that China is made up of many Chinas. With a population of more than 1.3 billion people, each province, city and even neighborhood has its own personality that has to be understood before trying to do business here. Shanghai is China’s largest city, and has emerged as its primary economic hub. The retail industry is thriving, and has been a big part of Shanghai’s exponential growth over the past 25+ years. Now firmly established as a world class city, Shanghai is entering a refresh mode – updating aging infrastructure and experimenting with new models of retail – whereas China’s second, third and fourth tier cities are catching up and following Shanghai’s lead.

I believe this poses terrific opportunities for global retailers that are interested in bringing their brands to Shanghai: consumers here really gravitate toward international brands and crave new experiences. Global brands that emphasize experience and even education are really doing well here, especially now that China’s hyper-connected consumers do more and more shopping online. Shanghai is not so different from the rest of the world anymore, in this regard. In fact, I see many retailers being more inventive here than they are in other more established markets; Shanghai offers a terrific venue for experimentation and innovation, and our savvy shoppers now seek it out.

Barry Bourbon and I recently hosted the third webinar in our Shopping the Globe series, and discussed consumer trends, retail trends, and opportunities as well as challenges that retailers might encounter in Shanghai. You can follow along with our discussion here:

Check out the full Shopping the Globe series, including my colleagues’ discussions about São Paulo, Brazil and Bangalore, India – two other rapidly growing cities that our retail practice is deeply embedded in. What other global markets are you investigating, or trends are you experiencing? We’d love to hear from you. We’ll be keeping this dialogue going in the months ahead, and hope you’ll join us in the conversation.

Richard Chang is a regional leader of Gensler’s retail practice and an associate in the firm’s Shanghai office. With over ten years of experience, Richard has worked with numerous retail brands on their global rollout and implementation strategies, and is passionate about what retailers can do to localize their brand for global consumers’ varying cultures and tastes. Contact him at
Article originally appeared on architecture and design (
See website for complete article licensing information.