COVID-19 led to a different attitude toward household cleaning and hygiene topics in China. The following data will show how the pandemic changed the cleaning products market, not only causing a higher demand for these products but also changing consumption behaviors. New categories of products and features are now required. Also, we are going to explain what are the best marketing channels and methods to sell cleaning products in China.
Chinese interest in cleaning products has changed with the epidemic
The household cleaning and care market according to Frost & Sullivan statistics
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- The retail volume of households cleaning and care market reached 110,8 billion yuan in 2019 and it should exceed 160 billion yuan by 2024.
- The annual compound growth rate was 5,3% in 2019 and it is estimated to overcome the 8,7% by 2024.
- The per capita spending on household cleaning care products went from 9,9 USD to 12 USD, still much lower than that of American and Japanese people (it is 77,8 USD in the USA and 57,2 USD in Japan). This data shows a lot of potential for growth.
The disinfectant market: a category that is destined to grow
The disinfectant market had an annual growth rate of 5,5% until a slowdown in 2019 due to the influence of the chemical industry. However, in 2020 with the Covid-10 pandemic, we observed a significant increase in the consumption of disinfectants in China.
It seems that this trend is expected to rise: the total output value of disinfectants will be nearly 15 billion yuan in 2025.
COVID-19 epidemic has affected consumers purchasing behaviors of cleaning products
The pandemic has had a deep impact on people’s minds. It increased health and hygiene awareness among Chinese, what you maybe do not know yet is how their “cleaning routine” has changed specifically.
Here you can find some data about the change of consumers purchasing behaviors of disinfection products under the pandemic:
- COVID-19 has affected 84% of consumers purchasing behaviors of disinfection products
- of that 84%, the 40% is currently disinfecting home once a week, the 23% is doing it every day
- of that 84%, the 49% increase the purchase amount, the 35% increase the purchase amount and variety of products.
What are the most used disinfectant products since the arrival of the pandemic?
- disinfectant (market share 31%)
- hand sanitizer (market share 29%)
- alcohol (market share 21%)
- air purifying sterilizer (market share 10%)
- ultraviolet disinfection lamp & disinfection cabinet (market share 10%)
Generally speaking, we can say that hands sanitizers and air products (air purifiers), as well as medical furniture, have entered Chinese households. Theis the most significant change, however, is in the use of cleaning products.
Where Chinese consumers buy cleaning products?
Even if eCommerce is extremely relevant in China, the Chinese still prefer to buy their cleaning products on offline stores, especially in hypermarkets and supermarkets. However, the online retail channel has become the fastest-growing sales channel in China’s household cleaning and care industry.
Due to this increasing attention toward online sale channels is interesting to further understand the online behaviors of Chinese netzines interested in buying disinfectants.
What factors influence the decision-making of the right eCommerce platform for buying disinfectants?
- The 61% buy on the platforms they are accustomed to using.
- Convenience. The 43% buy on the most convenient platform.
- The 22% say to buy on the platform that sells the disinfection products that they want.
- The 18 % to buy on fast delivery
- The 12% say to buy on the platform with cheaper price products.
What did Baidu’s data tell us about Chinese consumers’ interest in disinfectant products?
- The word “disinfectant” was extremely high in the Baidu search index from the beginning of February to the middle of March.
- Guangdong, Shandong, Jiangsu, Henan, and Zhejiang are the top 5 regions where the number of people searches of the word “disinfectant” were higher.
- Other related searches have related to the use, methods, and safety of disinfectants.
- In the searches, the name of the most famous disinfectant brands in China also is high: Dettol and Walch.
According to data on Baidu, we make some conclusion:
- Cleaning products brands should add disinfectant production process in the product presentations to earn customer’s trust.
- Cleaning products brands should opt for different products combination that can satisfy different needs. For example: disinfecting Spray, antibacterial wipes, disinfecting pocket size spray + antibacterial wipes.
What did data from Tmall tell us about Chinese consumers’ interest in disinfectant products?
Taobao and Tmall are the most used eCommerce platforms in China, here are some conclusions due to data extracted from the top 10 SKU selling points in December 2020.
- 75% alcohol disinfectant products are the best sellers since people know that 75% of alcohol can kill Covid-19 effectively
- Most brands emphasize the sterilization rate
- The production process and certification are immediately visible on the presentation of the products
- Quick-drying and easy to take products are very popular since people want to be protected everywhere
The demand for disinfectants has become so high that some Chinese brands decided to sell low-cost and low-quality products to be able to satisfy the need. The reaction has been that Chinese people are looking for certifications and guarantees of high quality before buying.
Household disinfection products market: the most popular brands in China
- Walch (owned by Whealthfields Lohmann) is the leader of the market with a share of 45.1%
- Dettol (owned by Reckitt Benckiser) has a market share of 16.6%.
Walch and Dettol together account for 61,7% of the total market share.
How to promote your cleaning products brand in China?
To enter the Chinese market, you can’t skip the Online marketing part anymore (Yes, even when you are looking for distributors). Even if offline channels still sell more cleaning products than Online Channels do at the moment, consumers are still using the internet to do their research. Distributors also use the internet to research the brand that contacts them. If your brand is nowhere to be found… I have bad news for your China dream 😉
What channels should include an omnichannel digital strategy for the Chinese market?
- Chinese website
- Search engines
- Social media platforms
- eCommerce platforms
What are the most popular ways for promoting your brand in China in 2021?
- Experts and KOL recommendation
- Live stream sales promotion
- Original promotion dedicated to popular Chinese events
A Chinese website is important to gain the trust of Chinese consumers
As in western society, owning a website is a demonstration of your relevance and reliability in the market. In addition, thanks to a website you can optimize your presence on the internet and be immediately found by those who notice you in other online or offline channels.
To have a website in China, you have to buy a server and a Chinese domain. Not use many domains because the Chinese search engines penalize websites with multiple domains.
The Chinese search engine also penalizes websites written in foreign languages, so it is very important the content present on it, it would be in Chinese. Not just for this reason, the adaptation of content to the Chinese audience is a key factor for making your space more interesting for Chinese people. So, don’t forget to only use high-quality images, video, and a fresh design to give your website a second chance to be visited by your Chinese target audience.
BAIDU is the most used search engine in China, brands must not forget this important digital channel
Baidu owns more than 70% of the search engine market and is fundamental to build your online visibility. You can invest in paid adverting or organic SEO. Both can be used, but in order to increase your visibility and, even more important, your trust rank, you must work on SEO.
To rank in the first positions of a Baidu research, you need backlinks from other websites. If many websites talk about your brand in a positive way demonstrates to Chinese consumers that you have a good reputation.
In conclusion, SEO is a long-term strategy your brand needs to increase your visibility and reputation
Forums: the most cost-effective tools to work on SEO
To post comments, questions, and answers on forums and Q&A forums is extremely useful to climbing positions in SEO ranking. As we already said these operations have the double functions to increase your brand exposure and reliability.
The main Q&A Chinese forums are Baidu Zhidao and Sougou, the most famous forum is Zhihu.
Social media: be social for building relationships with your Chinese costumers
China has a variety of Social Media and it could be difficult to choose the right social platform for your brand.
Chinese spend a lot of time on many of these platforms but each one of these has its own features that can be useful for a specific use.
- Weibo is an open social media where companies can easily promote their brands using a promotional tone and driving traffic to eCommerce platforms. It can be seen as the Chinese FB.
- Douyin is the original version of TikTok. As in the rest of the world, the Chinese TikTok is very popular in China too. It is important to notice that the use of this platform in China is different from that in western countries. While in Europe or America TikTok is used mainly to watch funny videos, Chinese users particularly love to watch educational videos. So, a good option for your cleaning products brand can be to collaborate with a doctor or an expert that can talk about the use and the benefits of your products via short videos on TikTok.
- WeChat is the most used social media platform in China, but it is a closed system. You cannot rely on it to increase the visibility of your brand, you should work on this platform for building relationships with customers and give special promotions through WeChat groups. Also, you can nurture them sending WeChat message that looks like articles with a very good appearance. You can also see them as a newsletter. By the way, the platform is particularly interesting for its CRM system, then for the post-purchasing stage.
- RED is a very interesting option for promoting cleaning products in China. This platform is also known as Xiaohongshu and Little Red Book (LRB). It a social eCommerce platform very popular among Chinese women. Women love to talk about their daily routine products on it, read “shopping notes” about products, and watch product recommendations videos of their beloved KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) and KOCs (Key Opinion Consumers). KOCs, in particular, can be very influent for a specific target niche, Chinese usually trust more the communication of these people than that of VIPs.
Ecommerce platforms to boost your future sales
Even if offline channels still work better in China for the cleaning products industry, this can be also due to the strategy adopted by the players of the industry.
If eCommerce was not efficient, why would the leader of the cleaning products sector in China (Walch) be relying more on online sales channels rather than offline channels?
In recent years, Walch has been investing more in online channels because offline selling points require higher costs. The shift of resources has been the right choice for the company that has made great achievements in the online market.
How Walch has been able to boost its online sales?
Walch has built in-depth partnerships with major e-commerce platforms like Tmall, JD, Suning, and Yigou. To drive traffic to its online store, Walch creates special campaigns, that include social media, KOLs, live streams, marketing events, and variety shows.
Walch presence on Tmall deserves a special mention.
Walch Tmall flagship store online page
The company has a flagship store on Tmall with an impeccable appearance. The structure is very organized, users can easily find the needed product because the menu on the top board is very clear. It differentiates products according to customers’ needs.
On the flagship store home page, you can find:
- Promotional live stream and banner on the top of the homepage to encourage customers to participate in it.
- all kinds of coupons including “social sharing coupons” at the bottom of key visual to encourage customers to buy.
- Celebrity endorsed product highlighted on the bottom of coupons zone to help to increase consumer stay time on the store.
Tmall store + variety shows
Two special episodes of the variety show “crazy wardrobe” and “Time Travel Kitchen” were broadcast simultaneously on Jiangsu TV and Youku, attracting more than 100 million viewers. Walch has deeply bound the marketing content of Double 11 in the official flagship store with “surprised Easter egg”.
Special marketing events
The company launched a membership carnival for brand followers, with the theme of “Singles Day Savings Guide” in 2017. Other events the brand participated in are the “Super Brand Day”, the 818 Festival, Double 11 Festival, and New Year’s goods Festival.
Chinese people always want to find the most convenient option. Then special promotions and coupons are very welcome among them. Walch often makes strong promotional activities such as:
- buy 1 suit, the second for free;
- buy 2 suits, wet wipes, and hand sanitizer for free.
It also limits promotion time to create urgency to encourage customers to buy the products fast.
Collaboration with KOLs
The collaboration with Liu Haoran (that is the brand’s ambassador) generates 130 million views and 34 thousand discussions on Weibo. For the occasion, it was created a particular hashtag #Walch birthday wishes to Haoran#.
In 2020, Walch collaborated with one of the biggest live-streams KOL Li JiaQi. The products were sold at a low price and the strategy was successful, in few minutes a huge quantity of laundry sanitizers and disinfectants were sold during Double 11.
To conclude on “the Cleaning products market in China”
The cleaning products industry’s brands must focus on high-quality products, the communication of their high standards on the home page of the online stores and everywhere else is possible, and build creative omnichannel marketing campaigns. These brands should also take into consideration the high demand for multi-use and pocket-size cleaning products.
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