China’s Demand for Imported Consumer Goods Remains Strong, Bolstered by Digital Upgrades in Cross Border e-Commerce

Published on 2019-11-11

数字化转型驱动创新的进口模式,满足多元化、个性化、高品质的消费需求

Deloitte, China Chamber of International Commerce and AliResearch publish report highlighting new drivers of China's imported consumer goods market

德勤联合中国国际商会与阿里研究院发布《中国进口消费市场研究报告》 聚焦中国进口消费市场新动能

Driven by strong domestic consumption in China and the growing access to international brands to meet this demand, China has become a key growth engine of the global consumer market. In particular, innovative technology-driven models, led by cross-border e-commerce, have enabled closer ties between China and countries across the world. Exemplifying these trends, Deloitte China, the China Chamber of International Commerce (CCOIC) and AliResearch recently published the Inclusive Growth Drives Consumption Upgrading: China’s Imported Goods Market Research (the 2019 Report), which provides an in-depth analysis of the latest trends in China’s imported consumer goods market and insights for international brands that aim to access the China market.

In recent years, China has been actively expanding its imports while lowering the threshold for foreign goods to enter the Chinese market. With continued cuts in import tariffs, China has fulfilled and exceeded the World Trade Organization's (WTO) requirements on promoting trade. As China introduces favorable policies for cross-border e-commerce, cross-border trade is growing rapidly.

Zhang Tianbing, Head of Deloitte Asia Pacific Consumer Products and Retail Industry says, "China's emphasis on robust policies for imported consumer goods has boosted confidence in the sector and stimulated consumers' appetites. At the same time, consumers' desire for diversified, personalized and quality goods are being increasingly satisfied and unlocked."

China's imported goods market has made significant strides as a result of encouraging policy incentives. Digital innovation and consumer demand in less-developed areas of China continue to drive a healthy consumer market. Retail imports are being transformed by digital upgrades across personnel, goods and storefronts. Amid new trends in digitalization, brands, retailers and logistics providers are using technology solutions to digitize entire value chains, including improving operational efficiency and integrating online and offline data to give consumers a diversified  personalized shopping experience. Additionally, demand from less-developed areas is becoming a new driver of the imported goods market in China. According to the 2019 Report, demand for quality imported goods with specific added value is higher due to maturing consumption patterns and increasing income in tier 3-5 cities and counties, as well as growing coverage by convenient, efficient e-commerce channels.

Director General of the ICC China Secretariat, CCOIC's Yu Min believes the inclusive development of cross-border e-commerce shows China's commitment to further opening up its domestic market. This momentum will invigorate global industry chains, create diverse engines for global economic growth, and provide more alternatives in upgrading consumer lifestyles.

As suggested in the 2019 Report, the number of cross-border consumers continues to grow as the sector develops. Younger generations under 30 years-old make up the largest consumer segment for imported goods, while women and those above age 60 are accounting for -increasing shares in the cross-border e-commerce market.

Driven by digital transformation, the cross-border e-commerce market is enabling a more diversified selection of imported goods from many countries and regions to enter China. Alibaba Group Vice President and Head of AliResearch, Gao Hongbing notes, "The rapid development of cross-border e-commerce in China is driven by encouraging policy incentives and rising consumer demand for quality products. This sector will serve as an important engine for the country's continued consumption growth. With cross-border e-commerce accounting for just 2.2% of the total online retail market, there is substantial room for long-term growth for brands and retailers.”

Zhang Tianbing adds, "With an increasingly mature livestream model, the industry has entered a new stage of development shaped by diverse content in an ever-expanding market. E-commerce and livestreaming have become new industry drivers. Brands are increasing investment to build their livestreaming channels and create a stronger influence over consumers. The prevalence of social media and evolution of technologies will give rise to more social networking tools, enabling even greater alignment of products with consumers."

Finally, the 2019 Report sets out the paths and strategies of foreign brands entering the Chinese market. Collaboration between cross-border e-commerce platforms and foreign brands has evolved in areas such as business operations and consumer engagement. This is best exemplified by vertical integration of online and offline consumption scenarios. E-commerce platforms can help foreign brands gain deeper insights into consumption data and help them develop strategies for fast growth and increase their brand awareness. Furthermore, the overseas warehouse incubator model can help small high-quality brands—which may lack the resources to set up their own flagship stores—enter the Chinese market. Niche overseas brands with the opportunity to enter the Chinese market should consider adopting nimble efficient strategies, leveraging consumer insights from their operations on cross-border e-commerce platforms to achieve rapid business growth.

在持续开放战略影响和强大内需的拉动下,中国消费市场正成为全球消费市场的一个重要的增长极。中国进口消费市场在科技驱动下迎来了模式创新,以跨境电商为代表的新进口模式使中国与全球各国的链接愈加紧密。近日,德勤中国研究中心联合中国国际商会与阿里研究院发布《进口普惠驱动消费升级--中国进口消费市场研究报告》(下称“2019报告”),对中国进口消费市场进行了深入分析与研究,并为海外品牌进军中国消费市场提供参考。

近年来,中国积极扩大进口,并陆续降低外国商品进入中国市场的门槛。中国多次大幅降低进口关税,达到并超过世界贸易组织对发展中成员的要求。与此同时,随着国家跨境电商利好政策出台,跨境业务也迎来快速发展。德勤亚太消费品与零售行业主管合伙人张天兵表示:“稳健的进口消费政策,有效刺激进口消费从业者对行业的信心和消费者的消费积极性,消费者多元化、个性化和品质化的消费需求也得到了充分满足和释放。”

政策红利下让中国进口消费市场迎来了黄金期,而数字化应用和普惠发展也是中国消费市场另外两个驱动力。数字化正在围绕人、货、场全方位地对进口零售领域进行重构。在如今新的数字化趋势下,越来越多品牌商、零售商以及物流提供方通过数字化提高经营效率,打通线上、线下数据为消费者提供丰富而高效的购物历程。此外,普惠发展正成为中国进口消费市场新动能。2019报告显示,随着三至五线城市和县域地区消费观不断成熟,收入的逐年增加,以及便捷和高效的电商渠道全面覆盖这些城市和县域地区的消费者,他们对有一定附加值的品牌和品质化的进口消费需求也正逐渐释放。

中国国际商会国际商会中国国家委员会秘书局部长喻敏表示,跨境电商进口的普惠发展,既充分显示了我国向各国进一步开放市场的诚意,有助于使全球产业链更加活跃,为世界经济增长带来多元化动力,也为满足人民群众不断升级的消费需求、实现“美好生活”提供了更多选择。

2019报告发现,普惠趋势下的进口消费群体渗透率逐步提升,30岁以下的年轻消费群体成了进口消费主力军,女性消费和60岁以上的老年消费市场也持续增长。

此外,跨境电商市场还呈现出进口消费品类日趋丰富、消费品进口国别/区域愈加多元化、数字化赋能的进口消费形态日趋丰富等特征。阿里巴巴集团副总裁、阿里研究院院长高红冰表示,跨境电商消费进口源于中国市场开放和消费升级,这也是中国增量消费的重要驱动力。目前,中国跨境电商交易额仅占整体网购市场的2.2%,未来发展潜力巨大。

张天兵补充道:“随着直播行业商业模式逐渐成熟,行业发展进入新阶段,在不断提升的市场规模之下,直播产生了更多的内容和形式,电商+直播的模式成为了行业的一个新风口。通过这样的方式,众多品牌竞相打造自己的直播间,推动着消费向更深层级发展。相信随着新的社交时代的推进和人工智能等技术的演进,会衍生更多的社交沟通工具,更高效的实现人货直接匹配。”

最后,2019报告对海外品牌进入中国的路径和策略进行分析,并指出经过多年磨合,跨境电商平台与海外品牌的合作模式在应用场景、品牌运营和售卖模式上迎来优化和更新:首先,通过对线上线下融合的消费场景的垂直和精细化运营,电商平台帮助海外品牌深入消费数据,构建业绩高速增长渠道,以及品牌知名度和美誉度。其次,海外仓孵化模式则为体量较小、暂时不能开设品牌线上旗舰店的优质品牌成功地打开中国市场,最后,联合多渠道和机构建立内容电商引流机制,扩宽内容触达渠道,建立零售趋势下的新型营销模式。

而对于那些迎来进口良机的海外小众品牌来说, 进入中国市场时可以采用“短、平、快”的战略,充分运用依托大数据、云计算、人工智能等技术建立的现代科技管理工具。作为小众品牌提升运营效率的重要手段,数字化和轻资产模式可以帮助小众品牌从繁琐的日常事务中解脱出来,聚焦核心业务和市场搭建,促进业务的快速增长。