Five Best Strategies For UK Companies Looking To Market Their Products In China.

Alibaba is often referred to as”the portal to China. Its Tmall Global platform is China’s largest e-commerce marketplace and has nearly 29,000 brand names across 84 countries, selling to 900 million consumers. Royal Canin, VW and North Face offer direct sales to Chinese consumers.

Mim Figueiredo, cross-border e-commerce business development Europe at Tmall Global, offers her tips to British SME companies trying to break into China’s rapidly growing consumer market.

#1Consider that digital-first brands should consider technology as a way to establish relationships with Chinese consumers.

It is an essential requirement for companies looking to expand their business globally, and China is no exception.

At the end of 2022, China was home to 989 million internet users. Of these, 782m shoppers were shopping online mostly on smartphones, according to the government organization China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). However, this mobile-first, consumer-centric market is experiencing a digital transformation across all retail sectors. Chinese consumers now expect an extremely personalized shopping experience seamlessly integrating online and offline shopping experiences. For example, the IKEA flagship store on Tmall has a virtual 3D furniture-filled showroom with 3,800 items that allow customers to experience its unique maze-like experience online.

#2 – Be aware of consumer behaviour

While many social media platforms in China have launched their online shopping options, Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall remain the top source for online purchases in China. To capitalize on China’s opportunities, international companies must build an appreciation of the ways customers purchase from these platforms. It is essential to align new product releases and marketing campaigns to major Chinese celebrations and holidays, which include not only Women’s Day in March; the mid-year 618 promotion in June, the 20th of May (Chinese Valentine’s day) and in the Qixi Festival in August (another Chinese Valentine’s Day) and Alibaba’s own 11.11 worldwide shopping festival that takes place in November will allow brands to gain the attention of consumers.

In the meantime, fan culture is widespread and not just among the Chinese youth. They watch every movie, stream every track featuring their favourite character, and buy lots – or even all of the merchandise they like. Collaboration with influential influencers or opinion makers could be an excellent method to reach a targeted market and create brand awareness in the targeted consumer segments.

#3 – Embrace live streaming

Livestreaming is the preferred option for consumers looking for new products and deciding which products to purchase. The market for Livestream-based shopping in China is anticipated to reach RMB2tr more than $300 billion this year. It is the most popular way for the top opinion makers (influencers) to interact with their followers in China. People can ask questions about the products, make remarks to hosts and even offer virtual gifts as a gesture of their appreciation during the Livestream. Welsh beauty tech company SmoothSkin held a Livestream on Alibaba’s 11.11 shopping festival, which saw more than 103 million views, which helped SmoothSkin be listed as one of the 10 most popular UK brands for 2022’s festival.

#4 – Keep abreast of trends in the world of fashion.

If you’re a company considering entering the market, it’s crucial to be current with the latest and emerging patterns. Although the pace of life in China is likely to return to normal for many people, the Covid-19 epidemic has left a lasting impression on how consumers look at their daily lives and lifestyles. The growing trend of “lying flat” – primarily among Gen Zs, but also many millennials – includes challenging the hyper-competitiveness of modern society and embracing simpler and nature-connected lives. In the 618 mid-year campaign, the purchases of “glamping” products jumped by over 130 per cent with the help of products like old-fashioned camping lighting and portable coffee makers, barbeque equipment, outdoor clothes and fishing equipment. For fishermen customers, those under 18 years old grew by around 190%.

Consumerism allows young people to escape their daily demands, fueled by the growth in “shoppertainment” activities like live streaming and social commerce. Younger people are choosing to postpone marriage or remain in a relationship.

The number of pets has risen over the last two years. At shopping events like last year’s 11.11 and this year’s 618, cat food was the top-selling item for Tmall Global. For 2021’s 618, the category saw the sales of pet-related items increase by 109% year over year.

#5 – align your brand’s mission, vision and values with the consumer’s priorities

Brands with a clear purpose and vision or strong values messages are most popular with China’s latest generations of conscious buyers. The epidemic has increased awareness of sustainability as customers seek out brands such as products, services and retailers with beliefs and goals that align with their priorities. Although it’s not a specific issue for China, the younger generation of employees, consumers and investors are demanding more transparency and more stringent ethical business standards for the products they purchase and work for, as well as the companies they work for and the companies that they invest in. It’s also prominently on the Chinese government’s agenda. We’re seeing brands and business units within Alibaba Group’s ecosystem embracing this enthusiasm for sustainability.

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