WITH some grooming, you can find your match. And agencies are cashing in with "exclusive" courses that teach women on how to spot the wealthy and the well-off as life partners.
While the agencies are gaining in popularity, not many are buying into it.
One agency that claims it can help single women find her dream "Mr Right" within 90 days is offering a one-day course for 2,800 yuan (US$451).
And the youngest student is only 17 years old!
The agency promoted the courses at the city's largest matchmaking event in May that attracted some 30,000 singles. And several hundred people signed up for the courses, the Shanghai Evening Post reported yesterday.
"To marry a rich husband, women must groom themselves up first to get that added value ... just like renovating a "rough apartment" into a "lavishly decorated house." The new "luxury product" can then stand tall among others," explained Liang Yali, the founder of the agency that carries her name Yali.
Yali, which has been in the business for three years, promotes the concept that spotting a good husband requires skills and wisdom, which it delivers through their training.
All the 75 students who have signed up are women between the ages of 20 and 40, with the majority being in the 30s.
"Some women who were born after 1990 have also signed up for the courses, encouraged by their parents who want their daughters to date and marry early," Liang said.
"A happy marriage can be tailored," insists Liang. She said more than 60 percent "students" at her agency are single women. The rest are married, but have problems with their partners or are trying to learn the skills of an ever-lasting marriage.
Liang claimed about 160 women had already received training at the agency since 2009. Of them, 60 percent were either dating or are married. Some of them found bliss in foreign countries.
"Many women above 35 find it difficult to find Chinese men. I tell them look for expats. Foreigners think a 35-year-old-woman are charming and in the prime of their life," Liang said.
A student, who identified herself as Coco, said they were not willing to marry randomly, or to anyone, just because they have reached the marriageable age.
But there are skeptics of the program as well.
"I don't think it makes sense and I won't participate," said Jin Liyin, a 28-year-old single woman employed at a trading firm.
"Training for marriage should involve some practical things like how to cook and how to do housework or provide some psychological consultation. This sort of stuff only sounds like 'how to marry a millionaire or a billionaire.'"
Jessica Zhao, a 25-year-old teacher at a local middle school, also sees no reason to participate in the course.
"Love is about yuanfen (connection), chemical reaction and fate, and such classes are just too tricky and too purpose-oriented," she said. Zhou Juemin, director of the Shanghai Matchmaking Association, said the city had many agencies that taught students how to maintain a good relationship in marriage, or how to date and how to serve as a good daughter-in-law. Even, on how to find a good husband. But Liang's agency is the only one that claims to help single women spot good husbands.
There is demand for such agencies in the market, because many singles lack knowledge on how to date and how to communicate, Zhou said.
"But it is not necessary for single women to flock to these agencies for such training, because the idea of tailored happiness is just a good wish, which certainly doesn't work for everybody," Zhou said.
Taking such training does not ensure happy marriage, and the high price they pay also does not guarantee high quality. Therefore, singles should realize that happy marriage is a kind of wisdom that needs lifelong practice, Zhou said.