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Chinese consumers are willing to create new relationships with worldwide brands. It’s a tremendous opportunity for a small or big business to develop with Chinese consumer’s brand affinity and build strong relationships.
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Selling International products in China
Guide to sell in China
The rapid urbanization combined with a growing and evolving Chinese economy sets the stage for both great opportunities and great threats to Western businesses. While some jobs are being outsourced from the U.S. and Europe, they can indeed also leverage China’s new-found buying power by offering to sell in China, a population of roughly 1.3 billion people.
Basically, the types of products that you will decide to sell in China should be interesting for Chinese customers in order to get their attention and engage them. Agricultural products, food and beverage, baby and maternity goods, and health and wellness products. Also, there’s an increasing focus on sports, leisurewear, and lifestyle goods.
What can I sell to China?
With a middle class of over 300 million people, that’s growing annually, there are certainly a lot of opportunities for selling products to Chinese consumers. But some products are more in demand than others.
Top 10 Products to sell to China
Chinese people like to wear international brands, be fashion means a lot in China that’s why they are always willing to buy imported products. Chinese consumers, especially young people, like the styles they can get from international brands, along with the quality of garments. Maternity clothing is especially popular due to the growing number of families in China.
For similar reasons, imported brands are also popular in China. Stadium Goods is one business that has realized success by selling shoes there. The company has found that some of its collectible sneakers that can’t be found in Chinese stores are especially popular.
Jewelry is another popular category due to the quality and value of imported goods. Jewelry brands can increase their profits dramatically by selling on the Chinese online marketplaces.
Beauty and makeup are a major product of the most popular categories for Chinese shoppers, especially those using Tmall. Beauty accessories are in the beauty niche, some accessories like makeup brushes are popular in China. An international brand can find a lot of success by selling its products on Tmall in China.
Sell in China Skincare products like moisturizer and sunscreen are also popular among Chinese consumers. Especially if you offer products made with natural ingredients, you could have a good chance of appealing to health-conscious Chinese consumers.
They also regularly purchase everyday products like cleaning goods online. So international businesses could potentially sell natural leaning products, especially those with natural ingredients to appeal to families and health-conscious consumers.
You can also appeal to Chinese customers by selling fresh products like fruits and vegetables. Natural juice is also a popular product among health-conscious consumers in China. And some types of fruit juice, like cranberry juice, have just recently been introduced into the Chinese market.
There’s also a growing demand for seafood in China, both because of the increasing health concerns over local Chinese seafood and western has access to some types of seafood that can’t be found in China.
Chinese consumers are also becoming increasingly health-conscious, so health products like vitamins and supplements are getting more and more attention to e-commerce platforms like Tmall, JD.com. Selling in China via Crossborder is a good option.
Packaged Healthy Foods
You can also appeal to Chinese consumers with healthy foods that are a bit easier to ship. Think packaged food items that include healthy ingredients like dried fruit and whole grains. Chinese consumers, especially young people, are more interested in food trends. Sometimes Chinese consumers can’t get these trendy food items from local Chinese sellers.
Wineries and small wine brands can appeal to Chinese consumers as imported brands. Especially for brands that operate in desirable regions, selling in China can lead to plenty of growth opportunities. To Sell in China you have to localize your content.
Baby Food is another one of the most popular product categories among Chinese shoppers. And baby food is a huge product within that niche. Gerber, for example, has found a lot of success by expanding its offerings into the Chinese market and introducing healthy food for the growing number of babies in China.
Moms also want to make sure they have the best possible products when it comes to taking care of their new babies. So companies that provide breastfeeding accessories and similar products can appeal to new parents looking to get the very best products for their growing families.
In addition, baby accessories like bottles, rattles, and playsets can also be interesting for those family-oriented consumers who are willing to pay a premium to get the best possible products for their kids.
Sporting goods and athletic gear are also popular. This category can range from outdoor gear to equipment for specific sports or workout activities. These areas aren’t really developed from a brand standpoint in China, so there’s a great opportunity for other brands and resellers to take the lead of Stadium Goods in tapping the market in China.
Technology is a huge market in China, so consumers like all different kinds of gadgets from international sources. But if your company has a unique offering that isn’t everywhere in China already, it could certainly appeal to that customer base.
How to sell your products to Chinese customers?
In order to successfully sell your products in China, you’ll have to make some adjustments in the way you’re used to doing business.
The unforgettable: Chinese Website
China is the most connected country in the world, so the first thing to do if you want to reach Chinese customers you have to create a Website. But not just a simple website, as usual, you have to create a Chinese website.
Chinese people don’t speak or understand too many other languages, then it’s better for you to present them something that there are familiar with. Your website will be the first portal to connect with them.
Sell in China: a Chinese website is the first option
While it won’t be your primary source of income, you’ll need a website for China. Not only it will give you more visibility but also will be proof that you are reliable as a brand. It is important to notice that your Chinese Website should be hosted in Hong Kong or Singapore for speed access. In fact, it’s always good in terms of SEO to be hosted in Asia. Prepare a customer service available 24h/24, able to answer all the customer’s questions.
Chinese Social networks
The rise of Chinese social networks such as Weibo and WeChat facilitated person-to-person connections. Social networks are the best place to start if you have a moderate budget. And the choice of the social network is going to be quick because China is dominated by one network: WeChat.
So, how is WeChat used for online marketing?
- Set-up a WeChat account
- Connect this account to a mobile e-commerce website
- Direct traffic to this website through Key Opinion Leaders (KOL)
WeChat is an essential app in China. WeChat Official Accounts are powerful means to gather followers and redirect them to a website or e-commerce platform. It helps brands to build thought leadership and engage with both potential and current customers.
Users can subscribe and view the brand’s accounts both directly on the accounts and in a “WeChat Moments.” (the feature similar to Facebook’s “Newsfeed”). The biggest challenge is when you decide to do Wechat marketing with an official account, which technically requires you to have a Mainland Chinese company.
KOL Marketing campaign: Top way to sell in China
It is currently the top choice for luxury brands in China who create advertisements in a variety of different media formats. KOL ads allow companies or brands to post advertisements on the official accounts of KOLs.
The price range is huge because there is no set price and each KOL is free to decide the cost for advertising on their account. Generally, they determine their pricing based on the quality, price, and type of products brands would like them to endorse.
A portion of the advertising fee paid to celebrities is shared with WeChat, thus KOLs tend to charge higher prices to maintain their profits. The key to success with these advertisements is finding the right KOL for your product and your budget. If you want to know more about this topic, you can check out our website.
To Sell in China: Maximize Chinese Online marketplaces: Tmall, Pinduoduo, JD.Com?
Most Chinese users will go directly to Alibaba’s properties, Tmall and Taobao, in order to buy things. The marketplaces themselves have cross-border offerings for foreign companies. However, these are often costly and foreign companies have to go through a demanding selection process. Companies that are already appealing to Chinese customers will find it easier to get listed. For the others, they might be fighting an uphill battle.
Pinduoduo now is the second-largest e-commerce platform in China in terms of the number of users and the number of orders. It has pioneered several new trends including social e-commerce, team purchase, and consumer-to-manufacturer (C2M) that have revolutionized online shopping in China. JD in China is popular and has a good reputation for its efficient logistic system and product assurance.
Other growing players like Little Red Book (小红书) are sharing similar characteristics with Tmall cross-border or JingDong cross-border. Using cross-border marketplaces can be an extremely expensive strategy (expect 1 million USD to get a significant measure of success). However, for big players with an existing brand name, they can be a good strategy to pick.
Tips For E-commerce Success in China
Here are some important rules to remember if you want to sell online in China:
- Presence on established e-commerce platforms should be part of your strategy to reach a large portion of the market who rarely shop elsewhere. The biggest player, TMall, accounts for 45.1% of online B2C sales.
- Social Media such as WeChat, Sina Weibo is intimately tied to online shopping and should also be a key pillar in your digital marketing strategy. 85% of consumers frequently use social media to share their online shopping experiences and 55% have participated in a discussion about a foreign brand.
- Customer Service is important for Chinese customers who often chat or call before making online purchases. It’s always good to get someone to respond to queries when Chinese are online shopping 24h/24 is a good guideline.
- Online Payments are not like in most western markets where credit cards are widespread. In China, you have to offer the trusted Alipay and methods such as cash on delivery.
- A Chinese website is not only imperative to online sales but also offline sales. 37.6% of Chinese consumers regularly increase their brand awareness through brand websites and a further 47.5% claimed official websites increased their purchase intent; much more than the traditional channels like TV, radio, and newspapers.
The e-commerce tools and platforms in China are different, and the underlying method of selling online is essentially the same. It comes down to having a quality product with an established brand. Because of the e-commerce war in China between Alibaba (owner of Tmall.com) and Tencent (owner of Wechat and investor in JD.com), you have to know if the product that you are selling is right for each platform. Some advice:
- If you need to have social media to help push it, then WeChat would be the place to go.
- If you have a product that is discovered by people going to a marketplace and searching, Tmall.com is a better place.
- If you are planning to do more social media marketing to sell your product, and that would involve Wechat marketing, then JD is your go-to.
You need to invest in paid ads or marketing campaigns on either of these to get traction. For example, if you sell cosmetic products, you can work with the cross-border e-commerce platform, Little Red Book, to attract Chinese consumers.
GMA can help you to set up a store on these different Chinese platforms
Use Tmall B2D
For a business perspective, taking products into China is a massive task for any foreign company. China is a big and diverse country and it should be viewed as many markets.
Using an experienced Chinese distributor platform such as Tmal B2D is the best way for international companies to sell their product in China. And from a strictly legal perspective, distribution relationships between foreign and Chinese companies are fairly straightforward. Distribution contracts with Chinese companies can have stark and important differences.
Gentlemen Marketing Agency
Gentlemen Ecommerce Agency knows the digital in China. We have an immense amount of experience in Chinese social network management & viral strategy. There are many ways to sell your products online in China. We Setup Stores and run smart and innovative Digital Marketing Campaigns in China.
Contact us now to discover which solution fits your business best!
Further Readings on How to sell in China: