Lu Ming: Online economy cannot replace offline, and technological progress cannot change the trend of population agglomeration in big cities

Reporter Wang Yu

Recently, there has been a view that technological progress may change the trend of population agglomeration in big cities. In response, Lu Ming, a distinguished professor at Shanghai Jiaotong University Antai School of Economics and Management, said the answer is no.

Speaking at a forum held by the Shanghai Institute of Finance and Law on Friday, Lu Ming said that with the rapid development of the Internet economy, many people have come up with the idea that online can replace offline. “So will there be changes in (city) population density and people flow? The answer is no,” he said.

He said this is based on four reasons, based on the premise that human nature has not changed. First of all, the vast majority of service industries cannot be stored and transported, especially when people’s living standards have improved, out of the yearning for a better life, new consumption, especially service consumption, cannot be used in online scenarios. replaced.

“For example, although you can make tea yourself at home, some people have to sit and drink tea in the teahouse. Many little girls order tea in the teahouse, take pictures there, and post them on WeChat Moments. This thing is at home. It doesn’t seem to be possible to achieve it inside. Therefore, teahouses are becoming more and more fashionable and layout. The tea is not necessarily delicious, but it is beautifully arranged. This is the new yearning for a better life among young people.” Lu Ming said.

Second, face-to-face communication is more efficient. He said that as early as the 1950s and 1960s, American behaviorists discovered that when people communicate with each other, body language transmits more than 50% of the information. There can be more communication offline than online.

Third, Lu Ming said that online is indeed replacing offline, but there is also a strong complementarity between the two. For example, live delivery of goods, for the buyer, it can save the time of offline selection, but the seller still needs to select products offline and conduct business negotiations, so it should be close to the big city (especially the city center). There is still a need for couriers to deliver goods to consumers offline.

“For another example, there is a service called breakfast project in Shanghai. After the white-collar workers order food in the subway, the merchants put it in the breakfast cabinet, and then they can get it when they get out of the subway. However, if a service like this is placed in the flow of people In places where there are few and few merchants, the cost will be high. In terms of business logic, it requires the flow of people on the demand side and the density of merchants on the supply side. Services such as shared bicycles and online car-hailing also require offline population density. conditions,” he said.

Finally, Lu Ming said that offline can provide more personalized and diversified services.

“For example, we are doing live broadcasts in business schools, and some popular topics have at least 1 million views, but there is a Chinese idiom that is difficult to adjust. So when the number of people online reaches 1 million, I will definitely say that everyone can easily understand, and The content you are willing to accept, some complex, personal preferences and cutting-edge things will not be discussed, but you can talk about more niche and personalized content offline, and the interaction is much stronger.” He said.