Successful UK-based companies often decide to expand internationally. Established marketplaces like those found in Europe, Australasia and Singapore provide security, but emerging marketplaces — China or India, for example — can be more lucrative and exciting. So, why do business in China, and do Chinese consumer preferences differ from those found in the UK?
We’ll answer those questions, and a few others, in this brief guide. First, we’ll explain why China is a good choice for international expansion, and then we’ll explore four unique Chinese consumer characteristics you need to be aware of.
Why do business in China?
So, why do business in China, rather than in India or in South America — or in an established economy? In short, because China has the biggest e-commerce market in the world. Analysts at GlobalData predict that by 2024, the Chinese e-commerce market will be worth CNY19.6 trillion. That figure represents enormous potential for UK SMBs looking to expand internationally.
While much of the global economy suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s economy recovered quickly. GDP in China jumped 18.3% in the first quarter of 2021, and 7.9% in Q2. In contrast, Britain’s GDP contracted 1.6% in Q1 and grew 4.8% in Q2.
Other practical reasons to do business in China include:
- Market stability: China has been growing at a steady rate for over four decades, so it’s a reliable, stable destination for expansion.
- A skilled workforce: If you need talented, competent workers and specialist manufacturing know-how, China is the place to be.
- Low corporate tax: Corporate tax in China is typically 25%, which is more than corporate tax in the UK, but much less than corporate tax in India, Mexico or Brazil.
- Easy port access: A large number of world-class seaports make Chinese products easy to export.
Chinese consumer preferences
The advantages of doing business in China are numerous, but to do well in China, you’ll probably need to modify your marketing tactics and product-centric literature. Next, we’ll dissect four of the most influential Chinese consumer preferences.
Curiosity is key
Knowing their products well is important to Chinese consumers in committing to a purchase — especially if they’re considering buying from an unfamiliar brand. Marketplace experts agree that people in China are curious about foreign products, and that they find social proof and word-of-mouth recommendations very compelling.
Incorporating this preference — this desire to seek information — into your Chinese marketing plan is important. Make your product descriptions detailed and educational, and provide a list of FAQs for consumers who want to find out more. Use social media to cultivate proof, and encourage happy customers to spread the word by providing them with money-off coupon codes or free gifts.
China shops local
Chinese consumers tend to prefer good-quality low-cost local products. You can cater to this trend by working with domestic Chinese manufacturers and developing a local Chinese supply chain.
Another important reason Chinese consumers choose local brands is customer service. Accessible and responsive customer service is essential in China, so you’ll need to create a comprehensive and robust aftercare plan to compete with industry peers. Many UK-based companies enter partnerships with third party customer service solutions (Callnovo, for instance), or hire customer service agents who speak the local languages in China.
Simplify international transactions with WorldFirst
UK-based marketplace sellers that decide to expand overseas — especially when their target markets are emerging economies — benefit from partnerships with experienced payment providers. WorldFirst, for instance, has well over ten years’ experience moving money between the Chinese mainland and Britain. Payments take hours, not days; you can pay Chinese suppliers in renminbi, and seamless Xero integration makes accounting simpler.
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