There is currently a huge opportunity to sell products online in China. With a rising economy and little to no personal debt it is easier for the Chinese consumer to spend more on luxury goods. It is not surprising, therefore, that this emerging Chinese middle class is now spending more money online. They are particularly interested in products they cannot easily get in China such as American luxury goods like gourmet food products, wine, fashion clothing, and jewelry. These products are typically only available online. Many will order these products online, even if they have to wait a long time for the product to arrive.
Chinese online retailers have made it easy for companies to sell online to the Chinese market. There are several online retailers in China. The largest is TMAL.com, which has over a 50% share of the online B2C market in China. JD.com is the second largest Chinese online retailer. Amazon has established Amazon.cn, an online retailer in China that is similar to Amazon.com. This Amazon website is totally in Chinese and is specifically for Chinese consumers.
Social media is extremely popular in China and is an excellent way to promote products sold through Chinese online retailers. There are many similarities between the social media in China and that in the United States. There are, however, some differences. Chinese consumers don’t use Facebook, Twitter or YouTube but they have similar options. In China many people use Weixin/WeChat, a social media site that is similar to Facebook in the United States. As with Facebook, WeChat has ads that can be broadcasted to specific audiences. Sina Weibo is one of China’s very popular sites and is similar to Twitter in the United States. Videos are placed on Youku, which is similar to YouTube in the United States. Q-zone is one of the most popular social networking sites in China and has over 600 million users.
Placing advertisements on social media is a great way to promote products in China. Online advertising, however, is more difficult than in the United States. A deal has to be made with each social media platform each time a media buy is made and each deal is different. It seems that almost everything is negotiated in China and social media is no exception. Agreements have to be made as to the time frame the advertisement will be run as well as the price.
A Chinese website is considered a basic requirement for a manufacturer selling online in China. Many Chinese consumers like to verify the authenticity of a manufacturer prior to making a purchase. One of the ways they do this is by reviewing the manufacturer’s website. They are looking for information about the company as well as details about the brand and products.
Consumer Research is often a first step for larger companies selling products online in China. It enables these companies to develop an understanding of the attitudes of Chinese consumers toward their products. Would they be interested in purchasing these products through a Chinese online retailer? How do they feel about the brand name, quality of the products, pricing and any other elements of the marketing program. Through what social media can they best be reached regarding these products? Do these products and the marketing messaging fit their lifestyle?
If you spend time in China these days you will notice an interesting phenomena. Many Chinese consumers are now less interested in bargains and cheap products and more interested in quality products, brand names and foreign products. This is one of the reasons there is currently a huge opportunity to sell products online in China. Many Chinese consumers are willing to take to time to go online to find the product that exactly fits their needs.