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 (pīn kè)—are almost like a social movement unto themselves.
拼客 (pīnkè) is Chinese slang term 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 are involved in a variety of activities such as:
Renting homes together to save money
拼房 pīn fáng
Eating together to save money
拼餐 pīn cān
Hanging out together to save money
拼玩 pīn wán
Renting cars together to save money
拼车 pīn chē
Traveling together to save money
拼游 pīn yóu
Here's a breakdown of the characters in "拼客":
拼 (pīn): to link or connect
eg. 拼凑 pīn còu
客 (kè): customer or person
eg. 顾客 gù kè
It's worth noting that 拼客 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:
1) 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
wèi jiàng dīshēng huó chéng běn, wǒ men yǔ tā rén pīn fàn, pīn chē, pīn kǎ, jiù guò shàng le pīn kè de shēng huó
2) Many private car owners frequently go to websites and post to find fellows, and provide a free card ride.
Hěn duō sī jiā chē zhǔ jīng cháng dào wǎng zhàn shàng fā tiě xún zhǎo tóng lù xiàn de pīn kè, tí gōng miǎn fèi pīn chē
Please note that here this is an unusual usage of 拼客 that actually refers to the thriftier mindset rather than group buying per se.
3) A reporter found that, city residents had different views towards group buyers.
jì zhě cǎi fǎng fā xiàn, duì yú pīn kè yì zú, hěn duō shì mín dōu chí yǒu bù tóng de tài dù.
Have you ever tried joining the 拼客 in China? What'd you think?