“Pinduoduo, Pinduoduo, the more you group-buy, the more you save. If you wanna group-buy, go Pinduoduo; every day, every time Pinduoduo. Pinduoduo.” This song repeatedly appeared in celebrity reality show Go Fighting sponsored by the company. To many Chinese consumers, particularly those in the middle class, Pinduoduo exists in this song, not their lives. For those with lower means, the story is different.

Interestingly, the show’s previous top sponsor was Tmall. The new sponsorship quickly made Pinduoduo’s brand well-known in China’s mainstream market. Though the show’s fans didn’t know the exact reasons behind the sponsor change, they believed Pinduoduo must be powerful—at least the sponsorship fee they paid should be equivalent to Tmall’s.

Pinduoduo’s IPO made the company famous overnight. As criticism of its business, products, and operation rose, debates have gone beyond Pinduoduo to issues of China’s retail business, legal principles, and social fragmentation. Some say Pinduoduo is a shameful business. Some say it is Pinduoduo who has drawn public attention to low-income consumers.

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Runhua Zhao

Runhua Zhao is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Connect with her via email: runhuazhao@technode.com