CBBC China Chat 2022 returns face-to-face!
“Thank you for inviting Holland Barrett to the CBBC China Chat. Personally, for me it was a great event that provided new angles on how to run a successful business in China, and it stimulated ideas as to what we could implement and adapt into our business.” – David Feng, Head of China for Holland & Barrett
Leading the conversation, the CBBC welcomed the following speakers: Torsten Weller (CBBC’s China Policy Analyst), James Hebbert (Managing Director of Hylink UK), Desiree Wong (Senior E-commerce Consultant from Pattern), Celine Tang (CBBC’s Retail & E-commerce Sector Lead), Antoaneta Becker (CBBC’s Director for the Consumer Economy in the UK) & Ran Guo (CBBC’s Director for the Consumer Economy in China). The China Chat was split into three main topics all with the aim to provide our audience the latest updates and trends from the Chinese market; the topics were: the outcome of the 20th Party Congress, the findings of the Double 11 shopping festival & the future of Hainan as a luxury spending destination amongst Chinese tourists.
Kicking off the discussion, our speakers addressed the outcome of the 20th Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. Whilst there tends to be a negative narrative regarding China in the press - given recent policy updates - we should remain positive and look at the bigger picture: that is, the abundant market opportunities available in China to UK brands. As observed, there were no major announcements from the Party Congress that shocked or unsettled the audience, and UK consumer brands should continue to look forward positively as the China market can change very quickly. A good case study that was raised was that of Hainan (an island province in China) - due to the success of the luxury duty free experience it has been projected that there might be more offshore shopping destinations.
One recurring question throughout the ‘Chat’ was how can brands better target Chinese consumers and keep pace with their changing consumption habits. These consumers are not a homogenous group, and as discussed at the event, there are several emerging trends that UK brands should be made aware of. For instance, the data from the Double 11 shopping festival suggests that the Chinese public are becoming more ‘conscious’ shoppers and rational in terms of their spending. The Chinese economy, like all around the world, has been hit hard in recent years and consumers have become less eager to ‘bulk’ buy.
Moreover, Chinese consumers’ conscious behaviour has strengthened brand loyalty as consumers have been shown to seek an emotional connection through their purchases. Establishing a personal connection with a Chinese consumer has become the key to success as more consumers seek to express their ‘personality’ through the products they purchase. A good example of this is the perfume economy as fragrances have been booming in the Chinese market. Furthermore, young Gen-Z Chinese are particularly driving this emotional trend as they are willing pay more for a brand’s product and therefore it is essential for UK consumer brands to target this audience.
Common trends that have remained unchanged were also touched upon during the China Chat, including the use of livestreaming and social media Influencers such as Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and/or Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs) to digitally promote products. However, one new observation that was extensively discussed in the ‘Chat’ was the use of Livestreaming by UK brands through Chinese UK residents to Chinese audiences abroad. Many examples were put forward by the audience of brands who have experimented with this. Notably, Fortnum & Masons have Livestreamed a Chinese individual visiting their Piccadilly store to show their products to Chinese tourists abroad.
Travel is still heavily restricted due to the Covid pandemic and creating these virtual tours has proved to be very effective with consumers as they can participate in the discussion and get honest feedback on brands. Molton Brown, a participating brand, also shared their experience where they recently opened a virtual store in the Chinese Metaverse. This also proved to be very popular amongst consumers as it gives them a ‘taste’ of the brand which they can visit, albeit virtually. Many other examples were shared, and it was clear that doubling down on digital marketing has become a keyway to engage with Chinese consumers whilst they are not physically able to visit the UK.
“It was so refreshing meeting up face-to-face, and discussing all things China. To be able to have open discussions, hear from expert panellists and from brands active in China, was invaluable. I’m greatly looking forward to the next one” – Domenica Di Lieto, CEO of Emerging Communications
Thank you to everyone who attended the gathering, and we look forward to welcoming you all again to the next China Chat.
China Chat will be held quarterly to update UK businesses with the latest Chinese market and consumer trends.
Our next China Chat is taking place around Chinese New Year and will look at China’s luxury market. If your brand has Chinese New Year special editions and you would like to bring them to the event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.