Young buyers preferring imports, foreign brands

Amazon Global Selling’s booth can be seen at the cross-border e-commerce fair in Fuzhou, Fujian Province in March. (WANG DONGMING/CHINESE NEWS SERVICE)

Chinese consumers have shown strong purchasing power for imported products and foreign brands, which has become a key factor driving increased consumption driven by preferential policies such as lower tariffs and an expanded list of imported goods, along with gradual improvement in cross-border logistics, experts said.

Data from e-commerce giant JD showed that transaction volume for more than 180 brands on JD Worldwide, its cross-border platform, increased by more than 100 percent year-on-year in the first four hours of the shopping carnival, which took place on June 18 and ends on May 31 at 8 p.m. :00.

Sales of imported spirits such as Penfolds and Remy Martin quadrupled during the period compared to last year, while turnover of foreign luxury brands such as Loewe and Tiffany skyrocketed by 250 and 100 percent respectively, JD said.

Generation Z consumers – born between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s – have proven to be the main driving force behind the consumption of imported beauty and beauty products, he added.

According to Tmall Global, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s cross-border e-commerce site, sales of 1,497 foreign brands, including 342 new ones, doubled in the first four hours of the mid-year shopping extravaganza, which began at 10 a.m. in May. 20:00 20.

Foreign brand wines, digital cameras, cycling equipment, sporting goods and health care items were found to have seen significant growth during the promotional campaign.

Zhang Zhouping, senior analyst for business-to-business and cross-border business at domestic consulting firm Internet Economy Institute, said Chinese buyers have shown growing demand for diversified, personalized and niche foreign products that represent a new lifestyle and pay more attention to the value of what they buy products.

Zhang said cross-border e-commerce has played a significant role in enriching product supply and supporting consumption recovery, and called for intensified efforts to further optimize the inventory of imported retail goods for cross-border online shopping.

Market consultancy iiMedia Research said China’s further opening up, gradual improvement in logistics and delivery, and rising demand for imported goods will provide a big push to boost consumption.

“The penetration rate of cross-border e-commerce in smaller cities and towns has been increasing over the past few years,” said Chen Tao, an analyst at internet consulting firm Analysys in Beijing, adding that the exploitation of consumption potential and the upgrading of channels and services in downstream cities and rural areas are key measures needed to revive consumption in China.

Cross-border online shopping via live video – a quick way for domestic consumers to find detailed information about foreign products – became popular among generations of shoppers after the 1980s and 1990s, he said.

Li Yanchuan, director of Amazon China Global Store and Prime, said that young Chinese consumers, especially Generation Z, think and evaluate independently when choosing brands and prefer to pursue niche lifestyles and personalized products.

Li said sales of fishing, skiing, camping and other outdoor sports equipment are seeing rapid growth, while in recent years Chinese customers have favored virtual reality equipment, hand-dripped coffee products, tableware and kitchenware with unique patterns.

Cross-border online shopping orders are still placed mainly in the largest cities, but residents of second- and third-tier cities show rapidly growing purchasing power. Amazon will continue to enrich cross-border shopping scenarios based on consumers with similar interests and hobbies, Li added.

In November, Amazon China Global Store announced the launch of its first inland bonded warehouse in a comprehensive cross-border e-commerce pilot area in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, to provide Chinese consumers with more convenient delivery.

Li said the new bonded warehouse will be connected to Amazon’s global fulfillment centers and offer millions of inventory with faster deliveries. This is expected to save up to 10 days compared to direct international shipments, with the shortest delivery time being two days.

“With the increase in domestic demand and the advancement of emerging retail technologies, China has introduced preferential policies such as lowering import taxes and expanding the range of goods that can be imported,” said Zhang Tianbing, head of Deloitte’s Asia-Pacific consumer products and retail business.