China is a country filled with opportunities. The first China International Import Expo will be held in Shanghai from November 5 to November 10, 2018, with the goal of helping promote China’s burgeoning market to the world, the 21st Century Business Herald reported. One market of interest is imported food. The country has over 1 billion people to feed and with the growing middle and upper class, foreign food is the answer to consumer demand. The best way to enter this industry is through online food shopping, on Chines e-commerce platforms as 60% of Chinese consumers who buy imported food buy online. This is because a variety of choices are available and it’s more convenient. In addition, you can also find better prices through online platforms than in traditional stores. Let’s explore this topic and the options available for foreign brands.

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In China, over 80% of consumers buy imported products: the most consumed products are those required on a daily basis.

 

source epermarket

An increasing demand for imported products

 

« By 2018, China is expected to become the top importer of foreign food products, with the total value of food imports set to reach RMB 480 billion (US$77 billion). »

 

According to the World Trade Organization China surpassed the United States to become the world’s largest importer of agricultural products. Even with 500 million farmers, China has been unable to meet the country’s growing demand for grains, soybeans and other commodities. The scandals regarding local food products have resulted in distrust, a problem that will take years to rectify.

Providing enough food at acceptable levels of quality and at an affordable cost is shaping up to be one of China’s most challenging problems.

 

Chinese Middle Class want better products

China’s middle class is increasingly turning to imported products in all food categories. China’s historic economic transformation has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, reshaped the global economy and given rise to a new power on the global stage.

While imported food used to be rare and expensive, the recent surge in domestic commodity prices, driven by inflation and higher costs, has made foreign food products more affordable.  The economic growth has brought a marked increase in the standard of living of urban residents, including an appetite for imported food once unaffordable to most Chinese households.

The increased demand for foreign food imports brought on by domestic food scandals is expected to grow. Foreign food imports have annually increased 15 percent in recent years, and the amount of food imports has more than quadrupled in the last ten years.

 

Example: imported fresh food

food organic Shanghai

 

In a June 2015 survey of internet users in China, 24.5% indicated they had purchased fresh food digitally, and nearly half were interested in doing so although they hadn’t already. Among digital grocery shoppers who do buy fresh food online, imported fruits were the most popular items of purchase, followed by seafood, domestic fruits and dairy products. Nearly half of digital fresh food buyers in China said they bought these items online because prices were good, while about one-third said it was for convenience. Most of this group buy fresh food online only occasionally, though around one-third does so on at least on a monthly basis.

What would turn them off? Products that don’t match the online description, a lack of actual freshness, high delivery charges followed by difficulty in getting same-day deliveries and also concerns with damage to products during delivery.

 

online-food-ordering

What you need to do

No matter how amazing your product is, or how well known your reputation is in your home country if the Chinese have never heard about it, if you have no footprint on their platforms, YOU WILL NOT SELL. Foreign social media is not accessible here. This is new territory and we are here to guide you through it.

Adapt your brand to the Chinese market

To seize these lucrative opportunities in China, you need to develop your brand and engage with your target audience. E-reputation, transparency, availability and brand image are a recipe for success.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS TO IMPROVE YOUR E-REPUTATION

Social media is very effective in China because it’s the perfect place to create relationships with your consumers. Chinese consumers love to follow brands and communicate with their representatives. Connecting with Chinese consumers is mandatory in China. There are several options, but the top 2 are WeChat and Weibo.

WeChat has an average of 900 million monthly users and 700 million every day. WeChat is not just a social media platform. The app offers its users an application regrouping all the necessary tools in everyday life. With WeChat you can book tickets, book a taxi or order food. The platform also offers an electronic payment system with Wechat Pay which allows users to pay in stores. It allows you to gain visibility as well as sell directly online.

Weibo, as a pure social media platform is effective for imported food brands to communicate with their followers and potential consumers. It’s also a good platform to send information, discounts, announce products launch, asks users’ advice and to do advertising.

There are many more platforms, but too many to cover here.

 

A WEBSITE IN MANDARIN & ADAPTED TO CHINESE NORMS

People like different flavors and the Chinese are the same. Their preferred aesthetics and required methods of communications need to be acknowledged. Language is important. A Chinese website domain is also advised.

 

IMPROVE YOUR RANKING ON BAIDU THANKS TO SEO

Baidu is the Chinese response to Google. They search for everything here. The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a strategy that works to rank your official website in the natural search results over time. If your ranking on the natural search results is good, you will be more visible and Chinese consumers will trust you.

 

TMALL: A HUGE E-COMMERCE PLATFORM FOR SALES

Tmall is the most reputable cross-border e-commerce platform in China. The cross-border e-commerce platform is associated with Chinese consumers with quality and authenticity in a marketplace often associated with fake goods. Tmall only accepts brands who already have a significant presence and have realized sales in China. That’s why a lot of companies are rejected by the platform, as they aim to keep a high standard.

There are two ways to join Tmall’s platform:

• If you are a company with China in-country business operations, you can apply to Tmall. com.

• If you are a company with overseas licenses, you are eligible to Tmall Global.

 

 

Lax quality control, production shortcuts, urbanization and rising consumer spending are all combining to turn the spotlight on China’s food supply chain, creating problems opportunities for international companies doing business in the country. We are an agency with experts in every field. Our main goal is results and that is what we are good at. Our team is local and international, which allows us to understand both perspectives.

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Case study:

True North Seafood

Other articles:

 

F&B in China 7 step Recipe for Success