Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tiers or hinterlands?


The other day I attended a conference where a range of foreign companies considered the question of stepping up sales of goods inland in what these days are referred to as the tier 2 and 3 cities - some people, like Adidas, now talk about anything up to tier 7. This ‘tier’ business is relatively new - if you read pre-Revoltution business guides people used to speak of ‘hinterland’, or ‘interior’ cities.


That the conference took place in Shanghai was apt as it shows that what Captain Balfour intended for Shanghai in 1843 – that it should be a giant emporium for the foreign (actually then just British really) China trade to the inland provinces to which Shanghai would act as a gateway. And for over 70 years that’s what Shanghai was – until the post World War 1 boom created a consumer market of size in the city itself. Still, Shanghai never stopped being the entrepot for the hinterland primarily and continues to be - just as Balfour wanted.
Don't have a portrait of Balfour - but the British did name a rather grand steel schooner after him in the 1880s (pictured above)






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