The Chinese lingerie market has exploded in recent years, with an increasing number of domestic and international brands vying for a slice of the pie. Driven by a growing middle class with a rising disposable income and a shift towards more comfortable and fashionable undergarments, the market is expected to continue its rapid growth in the coming years. The China lingerie market is expected to reach an estimated value of 42.51 billion by 2026.
However, competition is fierce and navigating the complexities of the Chinese market can be a challenge for foreign brands. In this article, we will take a closer look at the current state and market trends of the Chinese lingerie market and explore consumer preferences and the opportunities for foreign lingerie brands.
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Overview of China’s lingerie market
The booming lingerie market in China has seen an impressive 20% year-on-year growth since 2009. Projections for the next decade show this trend continuing – expected to reach $42.51 billion by 2026 and a staggering $73.8 billion by 2030. This signals an incredible opportunity for foreign brands eager to respond to the needs of China’s growing consumer base.
China women’s lingerie market accounts for 60% of the overall market in China, and women now spend around 10% of their clothing spending on lingerie which. is expected to boost the demand for lingerie in the forecast period. When it comes to the luxury products, international lingerie brands out compete local brands, as those products adapt better to high-end Chinese consumer tastes and changing consumer preferences.
But, on the contrary, the lower-end market is saturated with local successful brands, that have more brick and mortar stores and better online distribution, and of course, better prices that attract Chinese women.
Main market trends and consumer preferences to look out for in 2023
When it comes to the main market trends for the upcoming years, as you can see above, we listed four main bullet points:
The main buyers on the lingerie market in China are young women that represent 79% of the total purchases. Female consumers have higher disposable income and are more and more interested in high-end lingerie. They are independent and want to invest themselves and spoil themselves. Taking inspiration from fashion brands line Victoria’s Secret, they are a attractive targets on the high-end market. They have their own money which they gladly spend on themselves.
Body positivity is a great trend coming from Western countries and is one of the best new trends on the market. Women all around the world always were to compare themselves to Victoria’s Secret angels and perfect models, believing they look bad in sexy lingerie products. Therefore, now it’s popular among lingerie brands to work with models of different body types, skin colors and defects, that correspond to the actual look of womens’ bodies all around the world.
For example, the Chinese brand NEWAI did a campaign to show each type of woman’s body to highlight self-acceptance and diversity.
Comfort over ‘sexy’
Millennials, as well as those of other age groups, are redefining the lingerie market in China by opting for comfort rather than sexiness. In an interview with SCMP, Hong Kong-based designer Peggy Marlene Lim noted that consumers look not only to fabrics but also natural wearability when selecting intimate apparel; wire bras no longer enjoy peak popularity due especially to their lack of adjustability during activities such as yoga.
By placing a greater emphasis on personalized needs and overall ease of use over allure alone, Chinese shoppers have demonstrated a preference for practicality with their undergarments. But it doesn’t mean that ‘sexy’ lingerie is out of fashion. It’s still popular but it’s rather for special occasions, while women prefer comfortable lingerie for daily use.
Young consumers are more health and environment aware than older generations and they put great emphasis on sustainability. The trend also reached underwear market, so it’s important to offer them lingerie from sustainable materials and highlight it in the promotional materials on e-commerce platforms and social media networks.
Men’s underwear market
As nations in the Asia-Pacific region prosper and their average standards of living rise, so too does demand for higher quality men’s underwear. Survey results indicate that Chinese males are investing notably more in lingerie than before; 43% spend 500-800 yuan on this item annually, 22.7% budget approximately 800 to 1500 ¥ a year, while 8.8%, or one out of every 12 people surveyed, spends over 1500 each year – all driven by increasing interest in designs with greater durability and sophistication regardless of cost.
How to Sell Lingerie in China?
Shopping for intimate apparel has taken a digital pivot in recent years, as more and more women turn to the e-commerce sites. There they can access both discounts and products that may not be readily available at local retail stores. What’s even less expected however, is just how much men are taking advantage of this trend – utilizing these webstores’ privacy feature when it comes time to surprise those close to them with sexy gifts!
Therefore, it’s important, especially for foreign independent retailers to be present online and take care of good branding and e-reputation, so that Chinese customers will trust them.
Branding and e-reputation
Chinese consumers don’t trust products from brands they don’t know. What is more, selling online is very important in China, but e-commerce platforms won’t let a brand have it’s own flagship store on their website, if this brand is unknown to the public in China.
Therefore, it’s very important to take care of good branding in China. The first step is definitely a Chinese website hosted in China, so that customers looking for lingerie brands online, will come across your brand. They treat websites as source of information, so you shouldn’t expect to make sales there. But it’s advisable to put all information about your brand and products as well as all contact points, customer service chat and so on.
Apart from branding, it’s also advisable to spread the word about your brand on online forums and communities like Zhihu or Baidu Tieba. It will help your reputation and Baidu SEO. You can also work with some magazines for good PR of your brand.
Work on SEO
Baidu is the most popular search engine in China. Baidu accounts for more than 70% of market share in SEO in China. Baidu became the most important search engine you need to include in your SEO strategy if you want to succeed in the Chinese market. It is a kind of success if your brand is very visible and rank on the top in SEO.
To be visible on Baidu, keywords are the key, but they have to be in mandarin because your consumers will always try to find information using Chinese keywords. In addition, your website needs to be hosted in China if you want to be ranked on Baidu. Notably, all your contents have to be responsive design because Chinese users are very connected and surf a lot on their smartphones.
Social media platforms are the main promotion channels
Social media platforms are where Chinese Internet users spend most of their time online. This is where they communicate with each other, check their favorite influencers and brands, watch short-videos and live-streams and look for products reviews and recommendations online. There are several platforms advisable for foreign brands, which are; WeChat, Weibo, Xiaohongshu and Douyin.
WeChat is the most popular social media with more than 1.26 billion monthly users. It’s the perfect place to communicate with your consumers and publish contents. You also have to know that WeChat provides to brands an e-commerce part. You can build your own e-shop and sell directly on the platform.
In China, Chinese consumers are used to sharing their purchase on their WeChat profile. It’s a good way to improve your awareness and gain recommendations. Weibo is another efficient way to promote your brand. It’s a micro blogging platform where consumers are used to expressing themselves. And Weibo is easy for startups to spread its ereputation. You only have to create your Weibo Official Account which allows you to develop a strong and smart communication strategy to target a lot of consumers.
When it comes to the apparel market, lingerie market included, probably the best place to promote a fashion brand is Xiaohongshu, also called Little Red Book. Often compared to Instagram, RED is a user-generated content platform, where users (mostly women) share their lifestyle photos, product recommendations and reviews and shopping tips. This is also a great spot for all influencers and live-streaming.
When it comes to young consumers, it’s also worth to be present on Douyin, the mother app of Tik-Tok. This short-video platform is very popular among young consumers and it also provides live-streaming and e-commerce options for brands to promote and sell their products online.
Hire Influencers to show off your brands
Working with Chinese influencers would be a good choice to promote your products and target to more young females. Key Opinion Leaders are really powerful in China. They are simply users who drive traffic on their pages with good and interesting contents. Chinese consumers love following KOLs on social media and they will follow to buy your products.
You can employ a KOL in your communication strategy. He or she will be the image of your brand and can help you to develop your image toward Chinese consumers. It’s an effective way to develop your awareness and brand image in China because Chinese consumers trust more KOLs than brands.
Moreover, you have to create beautiful stories around your brand. People in China do not really buy brand or product they buy an environment, but they buy a beautiful story. Influencers can also promote your products through live-streaming sessions.
Selling Online is a must
As for selling online to do eCommerce, there are several ways to make your business successful in all aspects. As far as GMA is concerned, selling on Tmall is one of the best solutions. Tmall is the most reputable cross-border e-commerce platform in China. Chinese people trust Tmall because this platform guarantees to sell consumers only quality and authentic goods.
A Tmall.com storefront is essential to the China retail strategy of leading global businesses. It’s the most effective way for China’s market penetration. But Tmall only accepted brands who have a significant presence and realized high sales in China. That’s why a lot of companies are rejected by the platform which wants to keep a high standard.
But it’s important to know that Tmall is expensive, therefore not that suitable for market entry and small brands. Those brands can test the market by selling through WeChat and Xiaohongshu first, which are cheaper and safer at the beginning. They are also easier, as you will already have accounts on those platforms.
Chaton Case Study
GMA worked with CHATON to better its visibility online and online press in China. CHATON is a high-end lingerie brand created in 2013 by a multicultural couple. This French-Russian cooperation gave life to a very sensual brand. They have set their mind on entering the Chinese market: with the luxury lingerie market now maturing and local consumers craving invisible luxury, they have seen it as a great opportunity to target this new clientele.
We help it with its media selection for release and PR writing. In the end, it realized 30 press articles and their exposure is 300 000 views. We help the brand approached by a distributor.
We can help you promote you lingerie brand in China
China’s lingerie landscape is changing as its consumers have varying preferences for colors, padding and style compared to that of Western countries. From purples and pinks favored in the East to black-and-white sexiness preferred in Europe; from Chinese women looking for comfort through padded bras to their European counterparts who desire lace detailing – one thing remains constant: local shoppers want a combination of fashionable design with quality craftsmanship they can trust.
Now is an ideal time for entrepreneurs striving towards market leadership within this burgeoning sector! Right marketing strategies could well make you brand the next big name on China’s growing lingerie scene.
We can help you with that. We are a Shanghai-based digital agency specialising in digital marketing and e-commerce solutions for Western brands.
We offer many services that you can see above and more. We have 10 years of experience and a team of Chinese and foreign experts that helped over 600 brands, small and big, succeed in the Chinese market.
Don’t hesitate to leave us a comment or contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experts, that will learn about your brand and present the best solutions for your China success.