Thanks to three decades of rapid economic development, China has become a powerhouse in the realm of furniture production and export. An expanding middle class with heightened disposable income and purchasing power have only added fuel to this flourishing trade – making it one of the most sought-after markets internationally.
With a huge population and an ever-growing middle class, furniture is in high demand in China making it an extremely lucrative market. But as Chinese people earn more money, they are more and more interested in luxury furniture brands from abroad, as they don’t want furniture ‘made in china’, perceiving overseas products as more luxurious and of better quality. Chinese furniture industry reached $82.45 billion in 2022. In this blog post, we will take a look at China furniture market trends and opportunities for foreign brands.
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Overview of the Chinese furniture industry
The boom in the furniture sector is due to the continuous progress in the Chinese economy occurring during the last thirty years.
According to Statista, sales revenue in the furniture market in China reached $82.45 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow annually by 12.17% between 2022 and 2027, reaching $146.04 billion. China is the second furniture industry in the world and the biggest online market.
In 2022, 57% of furniture was bought offline, and 43% online and the numbers are to stay on a similar level in the next years. This presents huge opportunities for foreign furniture manufacturers, as it gives them a high chance to reach consumers in the Chinese furniture market rather easily, as they search for high-quality furniture, especially from abroad, online.
Chinese people are willing to spend on luxury furniture and home appliances
China is leading the way in luxury product acceptance. Results from Statista’s report on 2022 purchasing preferences reveal that 21% of Chinese respondents are willing to invest in premium household appliances, and 14% expressed interest in investing in high-end furniture – higher percentages than seen among US or French shoppers. This growth demonstrates China’s commitment to indulging its home decor needs with luxurious offerings.
Chinese culture places a strong emphasis on family and home life. After spending the day outside of their house, Chinese people love to reconnect with their families through time spent in cozy homes that help emphasize the bond between them. They invest heavily in both private circles as well as tangible items such as furniture or appliances for a comfortable environment where they can spend quality time together.
Chinese consumers do not want “Made in China”
The parable of “Made in China” is well-liked around the globe. Individuals believe that Chinese goods are synonymous with minimal top quality. This can be certainly not the case. In fact, China is the biggest furniture manufacturer in the world, exceeding famous Italy. There are millions of furniture factories and the local furniture industry is thriving, leading the world in terms of wooden furniture, metal furniture, and glass furniture.
Yet, after years of hearing about luxurious furniture from Italy or Spain, Chinese wealthy people and the growing middle class are visiting furniture malls and searching the internet to find the best foreign furniture for their homes, believing their quality exceeds Chinese furniture. This huge furniture market presents great opportunities for foreign furniture companies, but they need to know how to market their products properly to a demanding Chinese customer.
Covid-19 stimulated the growth of office furniture sales
With its bustling economic activity, China is a major destination for multinationals and domestic corporations. This has resulted in an increasing demand for office furniture – but not just any kind of furniture: due to the environmental harm caused by deforestation, plastic, and glass furnishings are becoming increasingly popular.
The office furniture market is also growing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which locked people at home and needs to arrange home office corners for themselves. Office furniture is one of the furniture markets that experienced the biggest growth in recent years, and the trend is here to stay, as more and more people start working from home.
Kids furniture is on the rise as Millennial parents furnish their new apartments
Chinese parents are prioritizing their children’s safety, comfort, and style when purchasing furniture. A recent study revealed that 72% of Chinese families opt for premium pieces – wooden furniture designed with non-toxic materials, smooth edges, and a multitude of elegant designs adapted to suit the individual needs (and tastes) of kids. From beds to bassinets, cribs, or tables; these high-quality items offer multiple color variations as well as cartoon characters popular amongst younger generations today.
Chinese people want eco-friendly furniture
As more Chinese consumers understand the importance and value of eco-friendly furniture, they are increasingly willing to pay a higher price for it. This is partially due to an Environmental Protection Law introduced by their government in 2015 which provided clarity regarding foregone toxic materials such as formaldehyde. While this may have initially caused difficulties among many manufacturers, ultimately these steps will help create healthier living conditions going forward.
China is the biggest exporter of furniture
Ahead of China, Italy was the largest exporter of home furniture. In 2004, Chinese furniture exports surpassed those of Italy to become the largest in the world. Cost-effective production and labor resources are key factors behind this success; coupled with increasing domestic demand for home decoration as people’s standards of living improve. Consequently, both quality and price have kept up with traditional Italian manufacturers making China emerge victorious on this market landscape; a trend further spurred by urbanization initiatives from leading policies aimed at stimulating internal consumption.
In fact, many leading furniture manufacturers and brands from abroad produce their furniture in China, as traditional Chinese furniture makers usually make the products better than their western counterparts, and for a lower price. The trick is that many wealthy Chinese don’t know that, and they still prefer to pay more for products believed to be from overseas, when in fact, they are produced in China’s Pearl River Delta.
Chinese furniture manufacturers are so good, foreign companies have problems with counterfeit products
Thanks to the great demand in China’s thriving furniture market, furniture production in the Chinese market often exceeds ‘the originals’ from abroad. Leading furniture designers can often find their products on Chinese e-commerce platforms or in furniture shops across China, especially when it comes to wood furniture.
Other problematic sectors are glass and porcelain, with foreign companies struggling to sell their pieces to Chinese consumers. This is mainly due to the fact that China has a highly developed glass and porcelain industry with cheaper products with higher quality. Actually, China is the biggest export country of glass and porcelain products in the world. Today, they are still taking a 25.1% share of worldwide glass and glassware exports.
How to sell furniture and home appliances in China?
Although it might seem that competing with local manufacturers in the furniture market is set to fail, in fact, there are many opportunities in the market for foreign brands. As we mentioned earlier, this is mainly due to the fact that Chinese consumers believe that furniture in China is of worse quality than Italian or Spanish ones.
As the Chinese furniture market is full of excellent manufacturers that are hard to beat when it comes to quality, production time, and cost, the only way to win consumers is through good branding and e-reputation, which will attract Chinese consumers to your brand.
Position yourself as a luxury brand
As mentioned earlier, Chinese people are looking for luxury furniture from foreign brands, as they believe they are of better quality. Suppose you’re willing to sell non-luxury products. In that case, it might be very hard to reach out to Chinese consumers, as the market is very saturated with furniture from local manufacturers, that is way cheaper than what you can offer them.
Focus on branding and e-reputation
Branding is therefore key to your marketing strategy in the furniture industry in China. The first step should be the development of a Chinese website hosted in Mainland China, where consumers can read about your brand and see your product with all the necessary specifications. It’s essential to add a chat box and all contact information with social media links so that you seem reliable and professional.
Website is also important for another reason, which is Baidu search engine optimization. Having a website in Chinese hosted in China increases your score in Baidu search results, which makes it easier for consumers to find you online. Baidu is the first place that Chinese people check for information, so it’s advisable to focus on Baidu SEO to increase your chances.
Apart from having a website, it’s advisable to participate in forums, especially those dedicated to interior design and the furniture industry. Chinese people check forums for recommendations and product reviews.
Last but not least, you should also try to be featured in interior design magazines, so that you increase your reputation. Some of the most popular ones include; Vogue China, GQ China, ELLE, Conde, or Package and Design.
Promote your products on Chinese social media platforms
Chinese social media platforms are your way to reach out to your target audience. Although a website is essential, it works more like a hallmark of a brand, whereas social media accounts are where the real marketing happens.
The most popular and advisable platforms for furniture brands are WeChat, Weibo, and Xiaohongshu. WeChat is the go-to platform for all kinds of activities in China and this is where 1.26 billion consumers are to be found online.
WeChat allows brands to send newsletters, and push notifications, contact consumers in private messages, sell through private traffic, post different content formats, or even own their own WeChat stores.
Weibo is good for reaching out to new consumers, as it’s the most popular micro-blogging site in China. You can post photos, videos, discount events, special offers, lucky draws and collaborate with Chinese influencers, which will help you reach more consumers.
When it comes to influencers, it’s very advisable to have an official account on Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu), which is a platform often compared to Instagram. It’s based on user-generated content, where people share their lifestyle tips, fashion, cosmetics recommendations and reviews, and so on. It’s also a platform where influencers promote products to a large audience of engaged users.
Offer innovative products and smart solutions
Smart furniture is becoming a mainstream feature in newly completed, furnished apartments. Advances in AI, big data, and 5G have enabled convenient features to make households smarter than ever before – offering users higher levels of comfort while also helping reduce carbon emissions.
Examples include dining tables that can monitor the weight and body temperature of infants as well as self-adjusting heights for greater user convenience. With 89% adoption rates according to All View Cloud’s figures, it looks like smart homes are here to stay!
Sell your furniture on e-commerce platforms
To maximize success in the Chinese market, it is essential for your brand to establish an e-commerce presence. As far as platforms go, Tmall and JD are top contenders to consider when promoting your store. Unlike Taobao (a platform mainly geared towards cheaper home decoration items), these two giants offer a more luxurious environment that works well with luxury brands – helping you differentiate yourself from competitors while increasing trust among customers who can be confident they aren’t receiving counterfeit products.
We have worked for Ethnicraft to sell furniture to Chinese consumers
For over two decades Ethnicraft has been crafting loyal wooden furniture pieces. Rooted in outstanding Belgian craftsmanship, their quality wooden creations are designed to stand the test of time – defying trends for generations to come.
To ensure that customers find them on Baidu search engine results with a strong e-reputation, Ethnicraft partnered up with GMA Solutions. The goal? Generate leads by making sure potential clients have easy access to the Shanghai showroom!
We are a China digital agency with more than 10 years of experience. Apart from Ethnicraft, we have worked with luxury brands like Porcelanosa and Pasabahce, to help them reach out to potential consumers in China and increase brand awareness in the Chinese furniture market.
We offer many services, according to your brand’s values, needs, and budget. Don’t hesitate to leave us a comment or contact us to discuss your options on the Chinese furniture market and the best solutions we can offer you to reach your goals.