With a huge population and an ever-growing middle class, furniture is in high demand in China making it an extremely lucrative market.
In recent years, the rise of the Internet, artificial intelligence, and other advanced technologies have further promoted the development of the intelligent furniture industry. In 2020, the market size of the furniture industry declined due to the impact of COVID-19. Data shows that the retail sales of China’s furniture industry reached 159.8 billion yuan in 2020, down 7% year on year.
“As per estimates, China leads online furniture sales globally with an estimated sale of over USD 68.6 billion in 2019. The rapid development of e-commerce in China has increased the sales channels for furniture in the past 2-3 years. The online sales of furniture through online distribution channels increased from 54% in 2018 to around 58% in 2019 as consumers are showing a rising preference for the purchase of furniture products online. The steady growth in e-commerce and the rise in retailers adopting online channels for selling their furniture products is anticipated to further increase the demand for furniture products in the country.”Mordor inteligence
The Myth of “Made in China”
The myth of “Made in China” is popular around the world. People think that Chinese products are synonymous with low quality. This is definitely not the case. Had the Chinese been manufacturing furniture while compromising on its quality, its exports wouldn’t have increased magnanimously. This viewpoint has seen a change in the Western world since designers have started getting their furniture manufactured in China.
You have more and more quality suppliers in China, that are able to produce quality products at affordable prices, like Nakesi, a Guangdong factory, doing only OEM for high-end customers Overseas.
When did China Become the Largest Exporter of Furniture?
Before China, Italy was the largest exporter of furniture. However, in the year 2004, China became the country with the highest number of furniture exports. From that day on there has been no looking for this country and it is still providing the world with the most amount of furniture. Many of the leading furniture designers have their furniture produced in China, although usually, they avoid talking about it. The population of China is also playing a vital role in making this country the biggest exporter of many products, including furniture. In 2018, furniture was one of China’s top exports with an estimated value of 53.7 billion U.S. dollars.
The Exclusivity of the Chinese Furniture Market
The furniture produced in China can be quite unique. You can even find furniture items that don’t use any nails or glue. The traditional Chinese furniture makers believe that nails and glue reduce the life of furniture because nails rust and glue can get loose. They design furniture in such a way that allows all parts to connect with each other to eliminate the use of screws, glue, and nails. This type of furniture can survive for centuries if made out of high-quality wood. You must try it to truly test the exceptional engineering mentality of Chinese furniture makers. You will be amazed to see how they connect different parts without leaving any sign of connection. It seems that only one piece of wood is used to build the entire piece. This is great for all parties in the furniture industry – manufacturers, designers, and sellers.
Areas where the Local Furniture Industry is Concentrated in China
China is a big country and has its local furniture industry based in different locations. The Pearl River Delta boasts the highest production of furniture. It has a thriving furniture market because there is a great availability of natural resources. Other areas which are known for their wonderful skills in producing high-quality furniture are Shanghai, Shandong, Fujian, Jiangsusuperheroand Zhejiang. Since Shanghai is the largest metropolitan city in China, it has a huge furniture market, probably the largest in the Yangtze river delta. The central and western regions of China lack the proper infrastructure in terms of resources and facilities to have a thriving furniture industry. This industry is still in its early days over there and will take time to develop.
The capital city of China, Beijing, has an amazing flow of resources available for the production of furniture. All the tools and facilities required for furniture production are also present there, thus more and more furniture manufacturers are interested in having their corporate offices opened in Beijing.
Why China Produces Much Better Quality Furniture when Compared to Other Countries
Although China may have a reputation for producing substandard products, it does produce excellent quality furniture. According to a survey, more than 50,000 companies manufacture furniture in China. Surprisingly, most of them are small to medium-sized enterprises with no brand name attached to them. In recent years, some companies have definitely emerged in the furniture producing sector having their own brand identities. These companies have increased the level of competition in the industry.
A survey conducted by the Hong Kong Trade Developmental Council (HKTDC) revealed that the small to medium furniture enterprises in China can make a lot of money if even a small percentage of the total Chinese population decides to get rid of its old-fashioned furniture and buy into a more modern aesthetic. This ability to adapt and grow within the industry is why manufacturing furniture in China is the optimal choice to keep with consumer needs and demand.
Revenue in China on the rise
The increase in revenue is the most important indicator that China produces better quality furniture as compared to its competitors. According to a study, in the year 2010 alone, 60% of the total revenue of China came from its furniture industry by selling locally as well as in the international market. The market took a hit in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but long-term growth is expected to bounce back. Industry revenue is expected to grow at an annualized 3.3% over the next five years, to total $107.1 billion.
While metal furniture is now becoming more popular in the West as compared to wood furniture, China is expected to surpass the west in this field because of its amazing furniture-producing skills and no compromise on quality. As mentioned previously, this is a good sign for both manufacturers and sellers as it raises the perception and value of the market as a whole.
China Furniture Market Trends
The Rise of Urbanization in China and its Impact on the Furniture Market
China has been experiencing a boom in its economy and there seems to be no stopping it anytime soon. The younger generation is now moving towards urban areas because of job opportunities, better education, and a comparatively better lifestyle. Since the new generation is more trend-savvy and independent, many of them are living independently. the ever-increasing trend of building new houses has also taken the furniture industry to yet another level.
Due to urbanization, different brands have also surfaced in the Chinese furniture industry. Their most loyal customers are younger people, who tend to be better at adopting the new trends, and have significant purchasing power as well. This urbanization is also affecting furniture marketing in a negative way. It is leading reduction of forests and high-quality wood is becoming more scarce and expensive. Moreover, there are lots of organizations that are working to preserve the environment to limit deforestation. The government is taking the initiative to increase the number of trees in the country to ensure that the furniture market in China keeps thriving while keeping the environment safe. This process is slow therefore furniture makers in China import wood from other countries and some organizations export finished wooden products and furniture to China.
Living & Dining Room Furniture: the biggest selling segment
This segment has been growing steadily representing nearly 38% share of the Chinese furniture market as of 2019. In terms of popularity, the living room segment is immediately followed by kitchen and dining room equipment. This trend is especially noticeable in the southern and eastern part of the country with the multiplication of high-rise buildings.
IKEA and innovation within the industry
IKEA in China is a very good and mature market, and the brand increases its market share every year. In 2020, Ikea partnered with Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba, to open the first major virtual store on Alibaba’s e-commerce website, Tmall. This is an incredibly innovative move within the market as the virtual store allows the Swedish furniture company to access many more consumers and allows them to experiment with a new method for marketing their goods. This bodes well for other furniture brands and manufacturers because it shows the incredible growth within the market and innovations that are available for companies to reach consumers.
The Popularity of “Eco-friendly” Furniture in China
The concept of eco-friendly furniture is quite popular these days. The Chinese consumers understand its importance and thus are ready to invest in it even though they have to pay a higher price. Eco-friendly furniture is free from any type of harmful chemicals which may include artificial odor as well as formaldehyde which can be harmful to one’s health.
The Chinese government also cares about the environment a lot. This is why the Environmental Protection Law was introduced by the government in 2015. Because of this law, many furniture companies were forced to shut down as their methods were not in lieu of new protectionist policies. The law was further made clear in the December of the same year so that furniture manufacturers are clear about the need to use formaldehyde-free products which can be harmful to the surroundings
The Demand for Kids Furniture
Since China follows the two-child policy, many new parents want to give their children the best that they have got. So, a rise in the demand for kids’ furniture has been seen in China. Parents want their kids to have everything from their own bed to their own study table whilst a crib and a bassinet are also needed when a child is still small.
A study shows that 72% of Chinese parents want to go for premium furniture for their kids keeping in mind their child’s safety. The premium furniture is more suitable for kids as it is free from any type of harmful material and is less accident-prone. So, the parents don’t generally have to worry about sharp edges. Furthermore, the premium furniture is also available in different styles, colors as well as cartoon and superhero characters which are popular among kids of different age groups. It is important for furniture companies who are doing business in China to consider the importance of this segment of the market from the design phase all the way to the selling phase.
The Increase in the Production of Office Furniture
China is among one of the most popular hubs for economic activities. Many international brands are investing in China every year. Many multinationals, as well as domestic corporations, have their offices over here, while many more organizations are also opening every other month. This is why a huge increase in the demand for office furniture has been observed. Since deforestation is causing serious problems in China plastic and glass furniture is becoming more popular especially in offices. There are some non-profit organizations that are working to create awareness about the benefits of non-wooden furniture in the long run. Chinese people have a serious awareness of this fact because they are experiencing the adverse effects of deforestation in and around various cities.
Furniture Production and the Opening of Hotels
Every hotel requires stylish and elegant furniture to ensure the comfort of customers and attract them. Some hotels and restaurants get customers not because of the taste of their food but because of their furniture and other such facilities. It is a challenge to find the best-suited furniture in huge stock at low rates but if you are in China you can get innovative furniture easily.
Another factor that the economic boom has given birth to is the concept of more and more hotels opening up in China. They range from 1-star to 5-star hotels which are constantly competing with each other. The hotels not only want to provide the best possible services to their guests but also want to give themselves a contemporary look. This is because the furniture industry is always busy providing high-quality and trendy furniture to the various hotels present in China. Therefore, this is a specific niche that can be incredibly profitable if exploited correctly.
A Market Full of opportunities
The Furniture Industry Provides a lot of Job Opportunities
Due to its amazingly high population, China has a lot of people looking for job opportunities. The furniture industry has provided many jobs. Since the making of the furniture involves everything from cutting wood to delivering it, the whole process involves a lot of labor. The initial purpose of developing the furniture industry by the Chinese government was to provide its poor people with options to work and provide for their families. Initially, its target market was low to medium local consumers only.
The rate of unemployment in the country also meant that the Chinese government did not have a lot of unnecessary rules imposed upon its manufacturers as well. The next step for these industries is to find a workforce that can work efficiently and develop innovative techniques.
The world is advancing and now metallic alloys, plastic, glasses, and polymer materials have entered the furniture market. Furniture made up of these materials is relatively inexpensive and causes less damage to the environment when compared to wooden furniture. To manufacture furniture made up of unique materials, industries should have an appropriate workforce. So, those with a unique talent in this field are the future of this industry and you use said skill to earn a fortune. It is crucial to find a manufacturing partner that employs a highly skilled and reliable workforce.
Outsourcing of Western Furniture
China has become the most popular furniture market even in the West. Even the designers rely on the Chinese market to provide them with the best quality furniture with a fantastic finish at a reasonable price. Even the cloth to be used on various furniture items is also imported from China because of its unmatchable quality. Shang Xia and Mary Ching are two Chinese companies that have partnered with various Western counterparts for the export of their furniture.
There are also many designers who import furniture from China but sell them with their own brand name. This is the very reason why China is now emerging as a trustworthy furniture market in the Western as well as the international front. Ironically, the same furniture which is manufactured in Italy or America costs over double in price when compared to one manufactured in China and exported to these very same countries. China knows how to adopt the Western sense of style in manufacturing and designing its furniture instead of simply conforming to what is produced in Asia and specifically China.
American Retailers & Chinese Furniture
Many American retailers have a keen interest in Chinese furniture. Giants like IKEA and Havertys export furniture from China and sell them in their shops. Other brands like Ashley Furniture, Rooms to go, Ethan Allan, and Raymour & Flanigan are some of the other companies which sell furniture made in China. Ashley Furniture has even opened some stores in China as well to bring more power to the Chinese consumer.
However, in America, the cost of buying furniture has started to reduce. The American furniture industry is again improving and the labor price has also decreased as well. Furthermore, many American companies are now partnering with Italian leather manufacturers for the production of leather furniture. But still, Chinese furniture is high in demand and will remain so for a long time.
The Demand for Furniture Malls
China is definitely keeping up with the furniture game well. Many furniture malls are now opening in the country due to high consumer demands. The potential customers prefer visiting these malls instead of going to a standalone shop because of the variety and the different types of pricing on offer there. Many companies have their own websites as well for their tech-friendly customers.
Guangdong the furniture center in China
70% of furniture suppliers are based in Guangdong province. The Chinese furniture industry is definitely going to go places with the right amount of marketing and by maintaining a high manufacturing standard. The affordable prices combined with no compromise on quality have made it a favorite not just in the local but in the international market as well. Here is a shortlist of the most popular furniture markets, malls, and shops in China.
China Furniture Wholesale Market (Shunde)
This enormous market is located in the district of Shunde. It has almost every kind of furniture. The size of this market can be imagined from the fact that it has more than furniture from 1500 manufacturers. This kind of extensive option can cause confusion therefore it is better to know the most popular and reliable furniture maker before entering the market. Moreover, you will not be able to check all the shops because this market is 5 Km long with over 20 different streets. The best thing about this market is that you may find your desired furniture from the very first shop in the market. This market is also known as Foshan Lecong wholesale furniture market because this market is close to Lecong town.
Louvre Furniture Mall
If you are looking for high-end furniture with exceptionally high quality, unique design, and attractive texture then this place is for you. It is more like a palace than a mall. The environment of this mall is very comfortable therefore you can easily explore it for several hours. If you are a businessman and want to start a furniture business then you must give this mall a try because you will get high-quality furniture at optimum rates. This mall has become a key source for the furniture industry in China. You do not need to worry about scams as all the shops in this area are very reliable. If you are a traveler and don’t know where to buy reliable furniture without getting scammed then this place is best for you.
Ajman China Mall (Foshan)
This mall has shops for fashion accessories, clothes, and electronic devices. You can also get soft furnishing materials. The number of furniture shops in this mall is less as compared to Foshan Lecong market and Louvre mall but the variety and quality are impeccable. If you want to buy all types of home décor products including inventive furniture.
China has a very high population density. Most people can’t afford to buy big furniture for their home. This mall has folding furniture which can help you have a bed, dining table, seats, and sofa in one small room. You can fold the furniture when you are not using it. This is the future of furniture in China and Ajman mall has already played its role in introducing this futuristic furniture to the Chinese people.
So, now you have comprehensive knowledge of the furniture industry and markets in China. You can get the best furniture for your home, shop, and office from the aforementioned markets.
How to Promote your Furniture Brands in China?
We have written a good article about this subject HERE
Ereputation in China is the base. Every brand needs to have a strong reputation for success in China, and good branding online to attract customers. What is E-Reputation? E-reputation is what people are thinking about your brand and what their opinion is about it.
Promote your Furnitures brands on Chinese Social Networks
To promote your furniture brand, or any brand for that matter, in China, social media services are absolutely critical to have a presence on. Chinese society is now connected more than ever thanks to the help of these services – much like how Facebook and Twitter connect the west.
There are many social media available in China. For furniture brands and designers here is our top pick:
- WeChat: necessary for any brand to have a WeChat official account for credibility. Wechat is a great nurturing tool and is quickly developing its search engine function as well as live streaming and video channel.
- Weibo: Weibo is great for being commercial. It is the place to sparks debate and become viral.
- RED (Xiaohongshu): It is a too go place for high-end product reviews. As a furniture designer working with RED influencers will bring prestige to your name in China as well as boost your trust level.
RED’s main user group is female, and its age group happens to be TA of the furniture brand. The current furniture products are liked more by a young group, the younger generation has a certain consumption ability, aesthetic idea, the pursuit of life level, focused more on the living environment of the comfortable and beautiful, greater demand for furniture products degrees, more willing to share according to promote the post to buy the furniture of the desired products.
The RED platform has a large number of evaluation bloggers and recommendation bloggers, which can attract a large number of fan traffic to promote furniture products, improve consumers’ knowledge and understanding of furniture products, and further purchase and sharing to promote sales of furniture products. At the same time, the RED platform will also recommend notes and share related furniture products according to users’ view habits, and further popularize furniture products.
- Douyin: Douyin is now the hottest social media platform, covering people of all ages and income levels. Moreover, Douyin live stream is also the fastest growing e-commerce channel.
Especially concerning the furniture equipment, you have some specialized websites dedicated to this kind of product where you can create your own press release content in order to reach your targeted customers. Sites like forums and Q&A should be part of your strategy as undercover marketing(Baidu Zhidao, Tieba, Wenwen, Zhihu,). These forums are great to inform consumers about your brands and your products but also build your reputation more organically.
SEO on Baidu
You have to get great visibility on Baidu to attract visitors and potential clients, step one is to get yourself a Website in Mandarin that follows china’s UX habits. Using Baidu SEO won’t only give you visibility but also credibility – e-reputation. Our clients Ethnicraft for instance, have succeeded in getting great online visibility in Shanghai with such a strategy. (more information here)
Sell your Furniture on Chinese Ecommerce platforms
Thanks to the rise of eCommerce in China, direct consumer selling has become the norm, and ordering furniture online has never been so popular. Heck, even Ikea now has a flagship store on Tmall. Actually, Ikea has been selling online in China for a pretty long time. While working on your brand awareness using social media and SEO, it is not a bad idea to start looking into the different eCommerce options the Chinese market offers.
You may not be able to enter Tmall, but apps like Taobao have been rebranding themselves as the Young Designers app for a little while now. Taobao is also innovative and offers many marketing tools to its merchants.
How to sell furniture in China: the OLO case study
Using the word consumers rights day, OLO launched its own branded festival consisting of a combination of Chinese (internet) stars, new products, design shows, new retail, and live streams. The idea is similar to Alibaba launching the 11.11 shopping festival by using a date that already has meaning for many citizens.
1. Why launching their own shopping festival on 3.15 aka World Consumer Rights Day
Context: On World Consumer Rights Day the Chinese government released a list of companies that have not been working for the best interest of Chinese consumers.
For OLO furnishing, the choice of this date is not random. Indeed, by associating their brand with this date, they position themselves as “consumers friendly” in opposition to the brands “listed” by the Chinese government.
It is also a date that has not been used thus far by other Chinese brands or Chinese online marketplaces to run heavy marketing campaigns, giving the edge to OLO.
2. Efficient brand promotion.
OLO 315 branded festivals typically follow a 360°c marketing strategy allowing for full market penetration. From collaborating with numerous celebrities to promote their spring-summer collection to engaging strategies such as contests and interactive mini-programs as well as the exhibition shows the brand occupies every-channels possible online and offline.
On top of an omnichannel strategy, OLO ads a layer of complexity by taking advantage of the different geographical markets throughout China
If you want to market your designers/furnitures brand in China, do not hesitate to contact us.