CHAPTER 9

Go Deep: The Emerging Go-to-Market Retail Model

The once geographically narrow, export-driven economic machine that launched China onto the world stage has given way. That era was born out of a wave of political campaigns that led to chaos and upended much of society. People starved in untold numbers. For those who survived the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, there were repeated hardships, and education came to a halt. People went into hiding to escape persecution. Others were sent to rural camps where they were sentenced by the government to forced labor.

Throughout the 1980s, China rebuilt itself in the wake of these campaigns and launched one of the greatest economic revitalizations in history. Through the government-established Special Economic Zones, foreign investment flowed into the country in record numbers, primarily to the southern coastal regions, and China became the factory of the world.

This era was not without its costs. It spawned the largest human migration in history as poor, mostly agricultural, workers moved inland to work in the factories of the east. Families that were separated in previous generations because of politics were separated again because of economics. The factories driving the export model generated an environmental cost as well. Fueled by an insatiable demand for coal, China's industrial cities are covered in smog. The absence of regulation led to significant pollution. Countless lakes are polluted beyond the threshold ...

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