China, the biggest carbon dioxide emitter but also the leader of green investments. No need to be a genius to understand that two figures’ growth rate and environment are rarely a good match. But for a couple of years, the Chinese government realized the importance of building a green future and preserving its environment as much as possible. If for a long time the trend was to develop the country as fast as possible, from now on the trend is to grow in the most respectful way possible toward the environment.
Beijing has been investing billions in the following industries:
- Green energies
- Electrical vehicles
- Low carbon infrastructure
- Green financial development.
To fight again pollution, between 2017 and 2018, China also involved over 60,000 soldiers to plant a new forest covering around 84,000km2, which represents the size of Ireland.
A real improvement for China to make its economy cleaner but also to fight back pollution and global warming.
Even among Chinese new generations, including millennials, netizens don’t want to see their country’s development jeopardizing their own environment. Technologies are now involved in China’s new sustainable development plan, skillful positions are developed within local industries, and new green projects get supported by the government and Chinese consumers.
China’s objectives in terms of sustainable development:
- 15% decrease in its global energy consumption per units of its GDP
- 23% improvement of its water consumption management
- The new maximum level of 5 billion tons for energy consumption
- 18% decrease in coal intensity
- 15% increase in green energies
Eco-conception: a new way to do business
Eco-conception could be described as a new way to integrate environmental aspects in the product conception and its development. The main objective of this new system is to reduce the environmental impact of all kinds of products and services, during their life cycle.
This approach is implemented during the product or service conception, as the company will try to target a perfect balance among its different requirements: social, technical, environmental, and economical.
The eco-conception consists to integrate environmental value to the product/service conception, and all along with its life cycle development steps.
A new approach full of value:
About the operational process:
Why this model?
Traditionally we tend to develop products and use them for a short period of time before throwing it away because of not useful anymore or just not trendy. In the best case, products end up in the recycling center, and in the worst case in our oceans or mountain… a sad reality affecting all industries.
From this, the ecological consequences of such a life cycle are terrible: pollution of grounds, groundwater, air, etc. And we are not talking about dangerous chemicals used along the manufacturing process…
Also, for a couple of years, a new trend emerged concerning recycling cardboard, glasses, etc. The main idea is to give a second life to products. Which could be described as a circular economy. In the meantime, it’s also about modifying all steps of a product or service life cycle to reduce its carbon footprint.
Let’s take the fashion and textile industry. The second most polluting industry in the world, but the sector is currently changing for the best. Mindsets are evolving toward this circular economy thanks to the use of recycled materials, eco-responsible design, clothes gathering…
But also, the young generation and especially millennials, tend to have consumption and purchasing decision process more and more responsible for the environment and ethical values.
How does it work in China?
Many stereotypes may lead people to think that this kind of evolution is not for china. They’re wrong.
Even among the fashion and luxury industry, china has been preparing itself for initiatives for eco-friendly practices, with conglomerates like “Kering”, working hard to bring sustainability into its China relationships.
In the country, a growing number of high-end designers are also currently working to promote sustainability throughout the fashion cycle, to encourage conscious purchasing decisions by the smart modern shopper.
There is even the world’s largest sustainable fashion competition to reward effort in this direction: the EcoChic Design Award. For this international competition, designers from all around the world are trying their best to design clothes with recycled materials. They are coming from Europe, the USA, various Asian countries, but also local designers in china from big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Nanjing, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou.
The organization encourages minimal textile waste use, and prestigious judge such as Vega Wang, Stefan Siegel, and Sabyasachi Mukherjee, will elect the best eco-designers.
Redress, the group organizing competition also partnered with a number of initiatives in China to promote its cause, including GreenCode at Shanghai Fashion Week. An opportunity to draw attention to sustainability, eco-friendliness, and related issues in the fashion industry.
But other players in the industry also try to push discussions and applications of sustainability and social responsibility in all its forms in China. China’s non-profit Green Initiatives launched: RE:FORM, a program aiming to motivate cooperation with retailers and consumers to help put an end to textile waste.
Case study example.
SAOLA SHOES, eco-conception shoes.
Producing high-quality eco-shoes in China, while using recycled materials.
They first wanted to establish their business in Spain, but when they realized that 70% of raw materials come from China, they decided to directly settle their company in that country. It offers them a low cost of production and direct access to plenty of raw materials.
For them, eco-conception is not only using recycled materials, but it’s also a global process including the production system, logistic, and packaging.
How to do they produce their shoes?
With 3 plastic bottles of water, they can make 1 pair of shoes. They use seaweed to produce the inner sole and the outside one is composed of recycled materials.
Bonus, the company distributes 3% of its revenue to environmental projects: the Surfrider Foundation, Tree Planted, Save the Turtles.
A real example of sustainable development: doing great business and taking care of our home.
How to sale your eco-conception products in China?
First of all, you need to understand the concept of trust in China. It’s extremely important and a requirement for any business relationship. Whether you plan to target distributors or final consumers, you’ll have to gain their trust. Especially in trading eco-conception products…
Indeed, it’s an early-stage market, which means two things: a lot of opportunities as the market is in development, and a need to educate Chinese consumers toward this new trend.
Building trust in china goes through two main steps:
- Your visibility
- Your reputation
The concept is simple: give them the chance to know who you are.
In China, they don’t have access to our western media and platforms: No Google, no Facebook, no Instagram, etc. So, there is a high chance they don’t know anything about your brand.
And honestly, how would you react if somebody contacts you to do business, but you don’t know that company and can’t find anything about it on Google? I guess that without recommendation it’s going to be pretty hard to trust that company, right? Well, for Chinese, it’s the same.
So, to get started in china give them the opportunity to know more about you:
- Develop a new website
It needs to be in Chinese (yes, it’s still their mother tongue), with a Chinese domain name. Plus, we recommend you to adapt your website features to the local market. Due to cultural differences, their design is usually different than ours.
- Open a Weibo account
It’s like the Chinese Twitter. The most popular social media in China, it’s also an excellent platform to develop a KOL strategy. If you plan to target a large audience and engage with your customers, Weibo is a must-do.
- Open a certified account
- Communicate with your community
- Advertise your brand through sponsored ads
- Engage your customers (with games and contest for example)
Building your reputation (vital in China)
Being visible is the first step. And if you followed our previous advice, from now any potential customers or collaborators that will check on you, will be able to find a minimum of information certifying you’re trustable.
But in China, distributors will not cooperate with you if you’re not able to show them that your products will work on the market. They receive hundreds of demands a day. So, to get their attention you’d better develop a strong fan base and show that people actually love your products!
In China, branding is everything. People are ready to buy ten times the price of a product for a branded one, compared to a non-branded product.
For customers, it’s very similar. Keep in mind that Chinese people tend to be suggestible and “act like sheep”… We mean here that they won’t buy something that nobody bought. On the other way, they’ll be glad to buy something that everybody is buying or talking about. The reason behind all this is that a famous product can be trusted. They know they won’t be cheated. On the other hand, if they’re the first ones to buy the product, they have no guarantee of your reliability.
Build a reputation goes through Chinese social media. See Full Social Media Marketing Guide for China
WeChat is like the Chinese Facebook. Everybody uses it in China. A great messenger APP that also gets a “moment” system allowing people to share content (messages, pictures, videos) and personal feedback. Through this app, people use “WeChat groups” to communicate solutions about their problems and therefore recommending brands or products. Not very efficient for direct advertisement but a super tool for community management and building engagement. You can also create your own groups through the APP.
- Open an official account
- Create an e-brochures
- Community management
- Engage with your followers
- Use mini-programs
- Baidu: The Chinese Google
Having a Chinese website is good, but not enough. They don’t trust corporate communication… So, understand here that before buying anything, they’ll search for information about the product or the brand. It can be reviews, comments about something specific, forums, or general research to solve a problem they may have.
Before purchasing a product, they will compare different brands and will be influenced by other’s comments and reviews. Here’s how to optimize your online reputation:
- Baidu Zhidao & Zhihu: a good way to deliver information. (more information here)
- Baidu Baike: the Chinese Wikipedia. And they trust it a lot here. So, we advise you to make up your own page.
- Forums: it’s important to develop your online presence. The more people talk about you, the better.
- PR: if you have good products: high quality, valuable price, and consumed by lot of people, then there should be articles about you. If not, it means you’re not worth it.
- Comments/reviews: Chinese people are always giving a comment or review about what they bought/consume. And you’ll need plenty of positive comments to convince distributors to sell your product.
- Douyin: the video King in China
A short video sharing app growing very fast among young generations. It’s the perfect app to generate content and spread it to a wild audience. More intuitive and fun than WeChat and Weibo, this app is also an amazing tool for KOL. On this app, companies can get access to a commercial account allowing online sales and advertisement. But to use this one, you’ll need a Chinese business license…
Once you’re visible and reputed in China, it will be time for you to sell your products and make money.
In terms of sales and product distribution, we recommend online sales.
Probably the easiest way to make money in China. Cause if in western countries the online sales system is just starting to get popular, in China people are constantly focused on their phone. E-commerce online platform is THE place to sell your product.
Why online sales:
- Chinese people are always looking for products to buy online.
- Easy to buy. Your potential clients can buy your products from anywhere. They’ll just need access to a phone or computer.
- If they are satisfied, they’ll buy from you again.
- If you’re turning out to sell a lot of products on the E-commerce Platform, offline distributors will contact you by themselves.
As a reminder, the last double 11 resulted in $38 billion in a day. And most of the products have been bought through mobile phones.
To distribute your products online, you’ll get two possibilities:
Cross border E-commerce
It’s about the importation of goods through sellers from foreign countries.
As an online e-commerce business model, you’ll need to have a platform. The main ones in China are currently Tmall Global and JD Global. Once you decide which platform you want to operate with, you’ll just need to set it up. Here’s the process:
- Pay a deposit
- Build a nice store
- Advertise a lot (at the beginning)
- Pay commission per sales
- Pay daily operation management (high cost)
- Need an active marketing campaign
The good part of cross-border e-commerce is that you don’t need to have a Chinese business license or any certification, but it may require investment capacities.
For more information about cross-border e-commerce, check our ultimate guide
Chinese E-commerce platforms
If you have the possibility to establish your business directly into China, and therefore get a Chinese business license and the required certifications, you can use Chinese e-commerce platforms such as Taobao, Tmall, JD.com, etc.
It’s cheaper than cross-border and the time to deliver your product is faster. The main problem is that you’ll need to understand Chinese or to hire someone that can deal with it on your behalf. Because all the stores will be in Chinese. Otherwise, the process to open your store is similar to the one for a cross-border platform.
- Build a store, design pages
- Advertise it
- Participate in special events (double 11, 618, 12/12, etc.)
- Manage daily operations
- Store supported by your branding
To resume, eco-conception is a new approach allowing the development of new products or services, with an eco-friendly operational system. A new way to create and manufacture products/services, with ethical resolution and social & environmental responsibilities.
Eco-friendly products belong to an early stage market in fast development, while following the Chinese governmental plan toward environmental protection, and evolution of the population mindset.
To maximize your results in this country, we strongly recommend you to work on:
- Your brand visibility
- Your reputation
- Your distribution system
If you have any questions about the eco-conception market and how to develop your company in China, feel free to contact us.
We are the GMA, the most Eco-friendly Agency in China
- Digital Marketing Expert
- Professional in E-commerce
- Lead Generation
- 30min free call
Do not hesitate to check on our case study
Wow, great article! It makes my day to see that China is taking initiative to reduce pollution and waste. Younger generation are more aware of their environment, there is hope, the consumers habits are evolving, slowly but surely and the fact that a country with such a huge population is also on a eco-friendly path is a great new!