You want to market your Chocolate in China, you have to read this article before starting the wrong move.
Here you will find an insight into the Chocolate market in China and practical instructions of how to get there.
Chocolate market in China is that kind of market that still offers a lot of room for growth
Chocolate traditionally is not the Chinese sort of thing. So together with opening its doors to the world market China has also opened its doors to chocolate.
We take chocolate as a sweet snack or a desert that is available at all times, at all places. Chocolate in China used to have a more specific role. For many years it has been viewed as a luxury from the outbound world. A luxury given as a gift or consumed at special occasions.
That makes the difference. Outside China you might get loads of Chocolate brands, loads of women saying they need chocolate every day for a good mood. This implies chocolate is everywhere and it’s no surprise. In China maybe you won’t find chocolate in the stores in the developing areas. Maybe in the developed cities you will find a few luxury chocolate brands that are doing great, a few ordinary chocolate brands that stay firmly on the Chinese ground and a few of them who have a limited array of tastes to offer – testing the base. Again, it should be said that before it was not like this.
Chocolate market in China
Now chocolate at least can be seen in the stores (offline or online). But the culture of chocolate consumption is at its lowest if we consider the fact that China is the world’s second largest economy. At the moment reports reveal that on average a Chinese resident consumes zero to 1kg of chocolate per year. That’s roughly 10 standard plates. Per year. In Europe people eat 10kg of chocolate within the same period of time.
So can you imagine conquering the public of 1.5 billion people and make them consume at least half of what a European consumes?
Together with that, the new generation of Chinese are not only perceiving the idea of eating chocolate regularly seeing more chocolate available. They are directly influenced when they go abroad and delve into different experiences. They travel much more now and they bring new habits along with them.
So, first, chocolate is a large empty space in a huge market, with an inconceivable potential.
Second, foreign chocolate has already gained credit as something that is genuine, high quality. They fairly assume good chocolate requires cocoa and good fresh milk. This becomes exaggerated together with modern trends of striving for a healthy lifestyle, healthy eating.
When it comes to chocolate as a marketed product, there are still a few things that should be highlighted:
- TASTE. Two major points here:
- It might be true that only 30% of Chinese say they care a lot about the taste, against 66% in the west. However, there’s nothing more important for them still;
- Chocolate consumption is underdeveloped and doesn’t allow an average Chinese consumer to make a decent estimation of the quality of the taste (cocoa or milk properties);
- They are more particular when it comes to sensations, so popular brands always tend to highlight that their chocolate is silky smooth, soft, tender, melting, etc.;
- They are open to try different flavours, fillings, so this also gives inspiration to chocolate manufacturers.
- There is still a habit of giving chocolate as a gift, as a special snack during large scale celebrations, as a way to show feelings;
- Chocolate without any unique package is already part of mass market.
There are two independent ways to market chocolate in China:
- On your own, to individual consumers.
- Indirectly, via distributors.
Whatever you choose, you have to start with setting up your image, becoming visible and earning a good reputation. Only this will make you attractive to the Chinese people whether you target individual consumers or distributors.
Because a Chinese person doesn’t want to buy anything they are unfamiliar with, never heard of, etc. Distributors don’t want to waste time on branding, especially when they also have no idea what they are dealing with. So both categories only go for something they know for sure has a good image.
There are 4 steps to take before trying to sell your chocolate in China.
1. A Chinese Website.
If you want to look like a brand, it is necessary to have a website that would fit the following requirements:
- Be in Mandarin (for those who don’t speak English..which is, well, the overwhelming majority
- Have a hosting in China/Hongkong/Singapore;
- Have beautiful images and be informative on the whole;
- Have a Click-to-Chat tool (especially, for chocolate distributors who would like to contact you immediately);
- Make a stress on quality.
Why is it necessary? Because they will search information about you and they need to have it at hand.
2. Visibility on Baidu
Baidu is Chinese Google. This is basically how they might get an idea that you exist. You can use the following of Baidu services to deliver some information about yourself:
- Baidu Zhidao (Chinese Quora);
- Baidu Zhihu (another Chinese Quora);
- Baidu Baike (Chinese Wiki).
- Open an Account on Baidu
This all makes your brand look real and trustworthy. Whether you are good or no is something they might get when they see what reputation you have.
3. Control your Reputation Online.
Reputation is very important. Chinese people won’t buy anything if they are not sure if it is good. Distributors won’t attempt to sell anything that might spoil their own reputation. Losing face is the first and foremost fear when doing business in China.
So, to get your reputation, you can resort to the following solutions:
- Get media talking about you, have some articles mentioning you;
- Let people share their experience of tasting your chocolate online through some forums;
- All in all, get as many positive comments about yourself as possible. As it is clear now, it is important for both distributors and individual consumers in Chinese market.
4. Social Media : the fuel of your Brand Awareness
After building up a positive image, it is important to support it through social media.
Wechat will give you access to all the Chinese users. This is the most popular platform that can be used for marketing and sales both. So, what you should do is:
- Start an official account
- Create an e-brochure
- Update your content to keep the followers well-informed and aware of you all the time
- Give discounts once you start with sales (next level).
Weibo is another popular platform, quite similar to Twitter. It is a powerful tool to strengthen your roots in the chocolate market in China.
This platform is a hit on the Chinese market. It offers a chance to post short videos which are very much loved by the Chinese people. Douyin has already gathered a huge audience of 500 million people. They browse it every single day as with their hectic lives the only way to stay in tune with the world is too watch a lot of short videos. Once you move to sales, this one can also be of use now.
What is common for all of these platforms and what can let you move even forward (provided that you are not on a shoestring budget) is involving KOL. KOL is key opinion leader, or a Chinese influencer. They have a strong impact on the Chinese consumers, and on distributors as well, because they are someone who can be trusted. You can get a few influencers with quite big audience on a smaller scale or you can get an expensive famous KOL for more effect.
At this point let’s get back to distributors and individual consumers and see what we have got:
- Once you have all that, distributors will want to cooperate with you and will contact you directly;
- With individual consumers, it is a start, generally speaking.
How to move to sales for individual Chinese consumers once the reputation is built?
There are two ways to sell your chocolate online:
Through cross-border e-commerce platforms like Tmall Global or JD Global (this is convenient as you don’t have to get a Chinese license to do that, however, it takes more time and it is more expensive).
Kaola.com is a suitable option for cross-border sales in chocolate as it has a focus on food. It allows to buy products directly from foreign companies.
- a refundable deposit of 10000-15000USD
- commission of 2-10%
- yearly membership of 1000USD
Through domestic e-commerce platforms which is cheaper and faster:
For chocolate, you would be supposed to open a flagship store on Tmall. This might cost up to 20000USD at the beginning. Service payment ranges within 4000-8000USD. There are also commissions due to be paid on transactions, discount application, etc.
Then there is a lot of paperwork to be done to make it official and let the store operate. That is followed by prelaunch and launch procedures.
Opening a store on JD.com requires verification first. Then it takes a refundable deposit of 15000USD. Further, it charges 1000USSD per year for service. It also has a order-based commission of up to 8% for sale.
This platform is on the rise because it targets the 3rd tier and 4th tier cities first of all. Nonetheless, it has become popular all over the country as it provides flash sales and big discounts. see more about PDD
WeChat store is a good additional tool to boost chocolate sales for a few reasons.
It is integrated with WeChat so it is convenient to use and to make payments through WeChat, Most of the Chinese residents who buy online have WeChat Wallet. However, platforms like Tmall, Kaola, etc won’t offer an option to pay via WeChat as it belongs to Tencent.
- WeChat store operation is different from other platforms. It is well combined with marketing strategies.
- It has less competition.
- WeChat is a lower-cost alternative.
This was a step-by-step guide of how to market chocolate on the Chinese market.
We are sure you can now see the time is now and the strategy is ready.
Why you should contact us
When you can reach the target and make your chocolate brand successful depends on when you contact us.
We are the GMA – Gentlemen Marketing Agency. We know how to do it – we have great experiences.