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8 Trends of Imported Goods Consumption in China

Updated: Jul 9, 2019

Part 1

1. China represents the new global consumer market.

The continued expansion of consumption has become the main theme of China’s economic development. The market for imported goods is still visibly growing.

Online market places with mature technologies provide the new economy with greater vitality and efficiency than ever. According to data from eMarketer,

Asia-Pacific has the largest share and fastest growth rate among global online retail markets, and China is the major online retail market and core driver in this region and around the world.

2. Import demand concentrates on high-end and quality products

China Customs’ data shows that in 2017, the range of categories of consumer goods imported into China continued to grow with an increasing abundance of choices of daily consumer goods. Structure of China’s import comsumption matured over the past years:

Alongside increased income, the information channels available to consumers in the digital age have become more plentiful than ever before. Awareness and knowledge about imported products is accumulated as the consumers browse the internet for better products and online market places. Their focus has shifted from commodities to services. More emphasis is being placed on the quality, content and shopping experience for goods and other diversified needs.

From the perspective of overall consumption and willingness to import: food and nutrition, mother and baby products, cosmetics, watches, glasses, jewelry... are the product categories that consumers are most willing to buy more of in the future.

3. Population of CBEC consumers has increased 10-fold in three years

The population of cross-border e-commerce retail consumers is growing rapidly, with 10 times as many Tmall International consumers in 2017 as there were in 2014. This growth trend is expected to continue accelerating at a steady pace.

At the same time, with the continuous development of the bonded warehouse model in cross-border e-commerce retail and business operating models gradually maturing, consumers nowadays buy imported goods with an incomparably smooth shopping experience.

Users of cross-border e-commerce are mainly located in first- and second-tier cities. Only a small proportion of cross-border online shoppers live in third- or fourth-tier cities. However, sales of imported goods are slowly starting to grow in the more peripheral regions where an increase in disposable income is causing a rapid change of attitude towards consumption. In the near future, the development of cross-border e-commerce in third- and fourth-tier cities will become an important trend.

4. Consumer groups are becoming younger, with post-90 and post-95 generations becoming the largest consumer group

Young adults enjoy the benefits of a stronger purchasing power and show their willingness to embrace a wider global awareness becoming apparent in a higher cross-border consumption among their age group.

This can indicate a shift in popular categories of imported products. If you are trying to approach the Chinese market with a more sustainable growth strategy, it is meaningful to base product concepts and marketing efforts on younger consumer groups.

Source: China Chamber of International Commerce, Deloitte Reseach, Ali Research Institute (2018)

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