Home Consumer Why British brands should make the most of the China opportunity

Why British brands should make the most of the China opportunity

by Antoaneta Becker
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For many of the UK’s most prestigious brands, entering and succeeding in the China market has been daunting, but almost all will tell you it’s also been incredibly rewarding. During CBBC’s China Consumer 2022 event, we heard from the people on the front lines, the CEOs and managing directors with first hand experience of the market – here’s what they said.

In the run-up to the largest China-consumer offline event of the year —China Consumer 2022 — CBBC was thrilled to introduce China Voices. Reflecting the expansive, diverse nature of China and its consumers, our extensive and varied panel of China specialists and UK brands shared their exclusive insights and unique experiences in the China market.

China Voices put our speakers in the spotlight, who shared first-hand advice on how to navigate China’s sophisticated marketplace – from achieving success and satisfying your China consumers’ demands through branding and brand aesthetics, to targeting young consumers, communicating your unique brand identity, and diversifying your retail space through concept stores.

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Read on to learn more about our speakers’ secrets to success in China, and how they overcame their China market challenges and made the most of the opportunities the market has to offer:

“You can run but you can’t hide from the enormity of the China market, and the incredible opportunities it can bring. A glimpse into this super fast-paced market will change any pre-conceived perceptions and bring no doubt that this is where it is all at.

As the world’s second-largest beauty market, soon to be the first, China has played a crucial part in ARgENTUM’s global growth.

Doing business with China can be daunting at first but once you are immersed, it will inform what you do in the rest of the world. Don’t get left behind!”

Joy Isaacs, Founder & CEO, ARgENTUM Apothecary

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“The mix of China’s ancient and modern, traditional and innovative, mean it’s truly intoxicating for any foreign brand with ambitions to enter, grow and win customers.

It is not enough to only embrace the China of digital nomads — brands also need to appreciate and respect China’s past. Disregarding any one of China’s many facets can leave brands in danger of committing a cultural faux pas.

Thus, it is not only the size of the China prize that merits the effort, but also the incredible opportunity to learn and innovate.”

Antoaneta Becker, Director, Consumer Economy, CBBC

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“Fortnum & Mason has become synonymous worldwide with extraordinary food, joy-giving things, unforgettable experiences and exceptional service.

We are constantly creating more opportunities to connect with Chinese consumers.

With the recent shifts in consumer behaviour placing more value on brand experiences, lifestyle sharing and sustainability, we are excited to bring more authentic and engaging experiences to our Chinese consumers.”

Carmen Chiu, Regional Managing Director, APAC, Fortnum & Mason

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“Should we look to China for future growth and opportunities in the luxury sector? The answer is — without a doubt — yes.

I am confident in the continued growth potential for China’s luxury industry. Coupled with a strong economic foundation, China’s luxury market is fuelled by robust demand amongst millennials and Gen Z.

Young consumers continue to have a curiosity and an appetite for premium and luxury experiences and products, however the industry is more competitive and crowded than ever.

China’s unique digital ecosystem presents challenges for foreign brands. It’s expensive and noisy. Building a brand in China takes commitment, focus and resources.”

Chloe Reuter, Founding Partner, Gusto Luxe and Founding Partner & Vice Chair, Gusto Collective

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“China is a market that no business can afford to ignore, not only because of the sheer size of the customer base, but also because of the consumers’ ever-growing, insatiable appetite for new, innovative and trending products from all over the world, especially Europe and UK.

Advertising, such as live streaming, is considered a form of entertainment that draws in millions and holds attention for hours. This level of consumerism is simply unparalleled anywhere else in the world.

Yes, it has many challenges and obstacles, but the size of the prize makes it all worthwhile.”

Jake Xu, Co-founder, Shakeup Cosmetics

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“Chinese consumers are unable to travel overseas due to Covid, but there is still great demand for international brands, especially in the health and wellness sector.

In order to make the most of the China opportunity, it’s important to highlight both the cultural significance of Holland & Barrett as a British brand, and localise our branding for the Chinese market.

Adapting our brand message to the trends that influence young Chinese consumers enables them to resonate with Holland & Barrett.”

Joanna Zhou, China Manager, Holland & Barrett

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“In our experience, brand collaborations and being truly flexible with your IP is one of the hardest trends to accept for foreign businesses in the China market.

Despite this, the opportunities in China are exciting and endless; a partnership with an historic museum could be just as relevant as a trending children’s TV show.

Brand collaboration is now the main method of acquiring new audiences for many market leaders.”

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Andrew Atkinson, Director of Insights & Research, China Skinny

“Through working with partners to develop commercial and cultural activities in China, the British Library is not only able to generate income while marking our intellectual heritage accessible to Chinese audiences of all ages, we have also learned to appreciate our collections through a different lens inspired by Chinese consumers’ energy, creativity and imagination.”

Kai-Chuan Chao, Cultural & Commercial Partnerships, East Asia Lead, The British Library

For further enquiries related to China Consumer 2022 or CBBC’s work in the consumer sector, please contact Antoaneta Becker at Antoaneta.Becker@cbbc.org

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