chinas group buyers

China’s Group Buyers – 拼客

You’re probably familiar with Groupon.

But did you know that China also has more than 800 group buying websites, of which Groupon is just one? 

In fact, in China group buying is said to be more than just a way to get a cheap meal or movie ticket. The group buyers — 拼客(pīnkè) — are almost like a social movement unto themselves.

拼客(pīnkè) is Chinese slang for group buyers who get together to save money by increasing their negotiating leverage or by using resources more efficiently. While it often takes place impersonally through group buying sites, it can also be a very social activity among strangers as well. 拼客(pīnkè) are involved in a variety of activities such as:

拼房 (fáng): renting homes together to save money

拼餐 (cān): eating together to save money

拼玩 (wán): hanging out together to save money

拼车 (chē): renting cars together to save money

拼游 (yóu): travel together to save money

Here’s a breakdown of the characters in 拼客(pīnkè):

拼 (pīn): to link or connect (eg. 拼凑 – pīn còu – to piece together)

客 (kè): customer or person (eg. 顾客 –   – customer)

It’s worth noting that 拼客(pīn kè) have come to represent more than just an activity or hobby. They’ve come to represent a new kind of  thriftier lifestyle and mentality that’s becoming increasingly popular in China (alongside the standard conspicuous consumption).

Below are some examples of how the word “拼客” is used. You can find more examples in context through the FluentU program.

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Example A)

“为降低生活成本与他人拼饭、拼车、拼卡,就过上了拼客的生活 “

“wèi jiàngdī shēnghuó chéngběn yǔ tā rén pīn fàn, pīn chē, pīn kǎ, jiù ɡuò shàng le pīnkè de shēnghuó”

“To reduce living costs, we bought food, rented cars, and got cards with other people — we basically came to lead a life of group buyers

Example B)

“很多私家车主经常到网站上发帖寻找同路线的拼客,提供免费拼车 “

“hěnduō sījiā chē zhǔ jīngcháng dào wǎngzhàn shàng fātiě xúnzhǎo tóng lùxiàn de pīnkè

“Many private car owners frequently go to websites and post to find fellow 拼客, and provide a free card ride” (here this is an unusual usage of 拼客 that actually refers to the thriftier mindset rather than group buying per se)

Example C)


“jìzhě cǎifǎng fāxiàn, duìyú pīnkè yìzú, hěnduō shìmín dōu chíyǒu bùtóng de tàidù”

“A reporter found that, city residents had different views towards group buyers.”

Have you ever tried joining the 拼客 in China? What’d you think?

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