Recently, the latest innovation in China’s sharing economy has been on display at a Guangdong shopping mall — “shareable girlfriends.” One shopper surveys a row of young women standing on yellow showcase pedestals in a 10-second video clip. There is a QR code behind each of them that shoppers can scan to “share” their girlfriend of choice.
It would cost only 1 yuan for 20 minutes of companionship, allegedly.
This marketing ploy mirrors one that a shopping mall in Hainan, which sold “shareable boyfriends” to lonely shoppers, attempted during Christmas last year. Customers had to spend just 1 yuan with the perfect boyfriend for 1 hour of shopping bliss — one who would help you shop, bring your bags around and even pretend not to be bored out of his mind.
Nonetheless, no touching was permitted once outside their box.
While that scheme seemed to be proving very successful, “shareable girls” seem to be less of a hit. Out of the 15 young women on offer at the Heyuan city mall, more than half of them are seen standing in the clip and checking their phones, with no suitors ready to move forward.
Chinese netizens have hypothesized that men will feel too uncomfortable in public to “rent a girlfriend,” and are not likely to go shopping alone anyway.
In addition to shared girlfriends and boyfriends, China’s sharing economy recently saw the rise of a vast number of startups including those offering shared bicycles, umbrellas, napping capsules, exercise pods, luxury cars, stools, basketball courts and wheelchairs.
Most infamously, one company tried to launch a virtual sex doll service last September, which was shut down only four days after its official launch by the Beijing authorities.