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).
Here are some examples of how the word “拼客” is used:
“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“
“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)
“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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