Chinese consumers have been fascinated by American products for a long time now. This trend has given a great opportunity for American brands to offer their products in the Chinese market. Despite geopolitical indifferences and what could be seen as a turbulent relationship between the US and the Chinese government, the popularity of American products among Chinese consumers in Mainland China is rising at an incredible rate and is the main reason for increased categories of consumer products in Chinese marketplaces.
There is great potential for American businesses that are looking to enter the Chinese consumer market at this point and looking into the future due to the incredibly high demand for American products and services from Chinese consumers. In this blog post, we will check which products have the biggest chance of Chinese imports and at the same period see how American companies can attract consumers in the Chinese market.
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CBEC’s growth in the Chinese market is opening the door to American brands
Now thanks to technology and China’s fast-paced digital space, cross-border e-commerce has proved to be the most effective medium to accelerate sales of American products among Chinese consumers. The e-commerce market share is growing, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, when most people were forced to buy products online.
Most Chinese companies sell their products online and if you want to succeed on China market, you need to take care of Chinese imports through cross-border e-commerce, offered by platforms like Tmall Global or JD Worldwide. Most popular American brands are available to Chinese shoppers on those platforms.
With the constant increase in disposal income, the demand for American products, like personal computers and Apple’s iPad selection, or other US goods among Chinese consumers has skyrocketed. Although many products from the US are actually made in China, such as Coca-cola, General Motors, Apple products etc., there is still a big need for US goods exports to Mainland China.
Which American products are the most popular in China?
According to Iresearch, the most popular categories of American products in China include cosmetics and personal care (46%), mom and baby care, formula milk (39%), nutrition supplements (39%), and fashion, apparel, and bags (38%).
Cosmetics and personal care
Cosmetics are one of the few industries that didn’t suffer loses in China during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, as Chinese people are becoming more health-conscious, they buy more quality cosmetics and engage in personal care. Chinese consumers believe that foreign cosmetics, especially American, French, Korean and Japanese ones are of better quality than domestic ones.
We also see a lot of services exports, like wellness, spa, professional beauty care and more, that are becoming as popular as traditional Chinese services like gua sha massages or Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments.
When it comes to cosmetics, Chinese people focus a lot on the quality and healthy look of their skin, investing a lot in dermo-cosmetics, anti-aging and anti-pollution products, that are one of the most promising sectors for the next years, so they will be interested in importing those products from abroad. And all the American brands producing natural cosmetics also have a big chance to get some of the Chinese market share, as this is one of the fastest upcoming categories in the industry.
Baby products and infant formula
A Shanghai-based representative for the U.S. Dairy Export Council says the lifting of the one-child policy in China has increased infant formula consumption by up to 10% in recent years, and the demand is expected to rise, even more, promising new opportunities for the U.S. dairy exporters. China’s infant formula market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 8%, from $30 Billion in 2021 to $40 Billion by 2025.
Infant formula goods trade is a big thing in China since few years and takes a big percentage of Chinese imports. It’s all due to the fact that few years ago there was a big scandal with baby formula made in China. Therefore, this category is a big deal for international competition, as Chinese parents prefer to buy those products from abroad. In fact, in Australia shops even put limits on baby formula, as many people were buying in bulk and sending to China.
American nutritional and dietary supplements
The rising demand for American nutrition supplements is mainly stirred by the aging population, environmental pollution, and rising consumer health awareness in China. Moreover, the rising disposable incomes of the middle class in China have enabled consumers to purchase American nutrition products and health supplements.
American nutrition products are popular on online platforms and gradually becoming more and more utilized by the tech-savvy population, and Ecommerce sales are growing every year. The health supplements and vitamins market accounted for 299 billion yuan in 2022 and it’s one of the most popular categories in the Chinese imports.
Luxury fashion and leather goods
We could say that fashion never goes out of fashion in China, especially when we’re talking about foreign luxury products, that still take a lot of Chinese imports. Chinese consumers love to show off their status with luxury brands from abroad, and many US brands are well known in China, like Tommy Hilfiger, GAP, Old Navy.
When it comes to clothes, now we see a trend among younger generations of changing their dressing habits, opting form more comfy and casual clothes and streetwear. US giants like Nike, Adidas or New Balance are almost in every corner in Chinese big cities and they are still in high demand. New York based brand Supreme is also a very trendy brand and there is more place to leverage, as Chinese people are looking for good quality imported athleisure and sportswear.
What makes Chinese customers want to buy American products?
For Chinese consumers following aspects are of high importance, when purchasing American goods:
Chinese shoppers have a huge appetite for foreign, high-quality goods from trusted sources. Chinese shoppers believe that foreign websites offer superior product quality (57% foreign vs. 21% domestic) as compared to domestic websites.
The biggest issues that Chinese consumers come across while shopping domestically is counterfeiting, food poisoning, and poor-quality products, that’s why in many cases they prefer to rely on Chinese imports of foreign products. Chinese shoppers perceive U.S. and foreign products as safer and more trustworthy than domestic products, especially in categories like food, baby care products and nutritional supplements.
Among Chinese Consumers, American products play the role of the high-status symbol. American products are considered prestigious and highly valued. By continuously providing various varieties of merchandise in China, which includes big brand names and niche brands, U.S. retailers help shoppers to have a unique experience.
Chinese Millennials are particularly passionate about niche brands that help them to reflect their unique tastes and lifestyle. For instance, several Chinese customers are passionate about buying luxury and branded bags online like Michael Kors and Guess. American brands capitalize on the demand for products by making shoppers feel how some brands fit their lifestyles. This trend is extremely popular on social media.
Good price for imported products
Chinese shoppers indulge in intense research before purchasing a product online. Tech-savvy Chinese shoppers have a close network on social media where they share reviews about a product. Chinese shoppers follow influencers and KOLs that endorse the products according to their lifestyle. Usually, the price of American products is cheaper than the price of luxury brands compared to other countries.
Branding of American products on Chinese Ecommerce
With the immense popularization of American products among Chinese consumers, more and more American brands are struggling to find the right strategy to rise above all existing brands and capitalize on increasing demand in the Chinese marketplace.
When an American brand enters China’s digital ecosystem, it is not known until it creates a deafening buzz on the digital platforms in China. Apart from some American product categories that have already gained a well-reputed image among Chinese consumers.
Therefore, three strategies are of utmost importance when entering the Chinese digital sphere, firstly, to create awareness, secondly, to build E-reputation, and third to be actively present on Chinese e-commerce platforms.
How can American brands build a presence on Chinese e-commerce platforms?
Overseas companies need to have an online store on one or a few of the Chinese e-commerce platforms, this depends on the products they are promoting. Here is an overview of e-commerce platforms in China, where local digital marketing companies can help overseas companies to enter the Chinese e-commerce sphere.
Start selling on Tmall
TMALL holds the biggest market share in the e-commerce market of China at 57%. It mainly focuses on premium brands. This characteristic makes TMALL generally the most expensive e-commerce marketplace in China. It provides an opportunity for international brands to open exclusive online stores and directly sell products to Chinese consumers without being physically present in China. It also engages in direct Chinese imports, offering a Tmall Global website for cross-border e-commerce.
TMALL has an invitation-only policy where only qualified international brands can either be invited to join or can apply through a local digital marketing agency. For more information on how to sell International products through TMALL, please contact our digital marketing agency.
JD is also a great choice to sell in China
JD.com is China’s largest online direct sales company. It has relatively less market share than TMALL.com but international companies can open individual online stores on JD.com. JD’s cross-border service enables suppliers to sell directly to Chinese consumers without a local presence. JD.com is less expensive than TMALL.com but also has a zero-tolerance policy for counterfeit products.
Cross-border on Chinese E-commerce
There are several cross-border e-commerce websites that cater to overseas brands. Cross-border B2C e-commerce refers to a form of B2C (business to consumer) online purchasing where consumers can purchase foreign goods online via e-commerce platforms and marketplaces, such as kjt.com, Tmall Global, and others, that are set up to operate within special Free Trade Zones (FTZs) in China. Chinese consumers prefer buying imported products from foreign websites.
Taobao: innovative app for a tight budget
Taobao is owned by Alibaba Group. It offers the largest C2C e-commerce marketplace in China. Taobao allows registered or non-registered businesses to sell directly to consumers. Establishing a store on Taobao is virtually free but the online marketplace is ruled by small sole sellers who compete fiercely on price and honesty and authenticity is an unwritten rule of their trade ethics. Sellers with a low budget and lower quality products opt for this platform.
WeChat: another eCommerce alternative
WeChat is engrained in the lifestyles of Chinese consumers. It is an all-in-one app that integrates social e-commerce seamlessly. Wechat store gives numerous possibilities to International brands to reach Chinese consumers effectively. Possibilities range from branding to campaigning and easy payment methods.
The online store can be used to manage products, take orders, display products, and manage customer complaints. For more information on how to manage a Wechat store, international companies are advised to partner with an expert Digital Marketing Agency that can assist in applying for an Official WeChat Account on behalf of the international company.
Want to promote your American brand in China?
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