How to (legally) sell CBD in China?

Controversial in Western countries, cannabis is a hit in the countries where it has been legalized.

In China, the CBD market, or cannabidiol, is exploding with the recent loosening of Chinese laws regarding the cultivation of hemp and a local production already equivalent to that of France.


China is …


  • 1.4 billion inhabitants, and therefore potential customers
  • A rising middle class
  • Accompanying a 5% increase in the minimum wage
  • And a Chinese purchasing power increase of more than 6% in 2018


Why sell CBD in China?


  • A growing interest in CBD with over 164,000 questions about CBD on just 1 social network
  • A market that is expected to reach $ 23.7 billion by 2023
  • Asia is the largest region after North America in CBD market share
  • More than 46,000 comments for a hemp oil reflecting a growing interest in CBD


CBD market in the world


  • An industry with more than + 30% per year growth
  • Consumers with disposable income (77% of those interested between 30 and 49 years old)
  • A variety of products: drink, oil, tea, cosmetics,…
  • A sensitive subject that attracts the attention of Internet users



This product is currently very popular in the US and Europe but is only taking off in China. The opportunity to become the first CBD brand in China is real since there are currently no major players on the Chinese market.


In addition, Chinese regulations and laws are uncompromising on the sale of CBD: for example, CBD oil should not exceed 0.3% THC. In addition, it is imperative to hold an import and export permit to sell CBD in China since it is a psychotropic substance.

Forgetting or not knowing about the existence of such regulations can be fatal to your business and even cause you to face many problems with local authorities.


(Legally) sell your CBD in China


China is a unique market where selling your products may require the use of a completely different strategy from the ones in Western countries.

Differences in culture, language, lifestyle and many other things require you to adapt to this market to sell your products, and therefore also to adapt your strategy.


No, China is not asking you to change the DNA of your brand and products.

However, you need to be visible AND credible to your potential Chinese customers.

Your branding is vital for selling in China, but not only. Visibility and credibility make your products “pass or break” China.

But don’t panic, we’re here to help you.



  1. Rule number one : Be visible


Unlike the West, Chinese shop online on their phones. With more than half of sales made through e-commerce, the Chinese market makes online presence essential and even mandatory for the sale of any product.



But where to be visible?


  • WeChat

The equivalent of Facebook / Messenger in China. This social network allows you to chat, share text, images, music and much more.

The question of the repute of WeChat does not arise since there are a billion users who visit the platform daily.


WeChat can increase your visibility through Moments, groups of friends or official accounts which are perfect tools for spreading information.

Sharing visible content to everyone from your official account, a WeChat brochure to explain the benefits of CBD or a mini-program (that can be a little game or an event invitation for the launch of your products in China) are all powerful tools to get to your Chinese target.


Wechat is therefore an essential platform for the spread of marketing content in China. It can also be used to educate consumers when it comes to relatively new products such as CBD which in addition can come in a variety of forms.


  • Weibo

Chinese Twitter, perfect for effectively disseminating your content. A popular platform offering a large audience: 500 million monthly active users!

Chinese love fashion, which is trendy and in demand. It influences their mode of consumption: they love the latest novelty that everyone tears off, but they will certainly not be part of the early adopters (or first followers) of a new product, even more so if it’s CBD. This is why using KOLs to promote your products can be doubly beneficial: gaining visibility with a targeted audience, but also gaining their trust and credibility.


Key Opinion Leaders are Chinese influencers. They can introduce and promote your new products to their audience. Weibo users put a big trust in the KOLs they follow. That is why using the suitable KOLs can make your products have a good reputation in the world-of-mouth. And because Chinese people love to share their experience, having a positive reputation will lead you to also have a positive e-reputation on Chinese forums


  1. Rule number 2 : Be credible : Reputation matter in China


Trust is the basis of any business relationship in China. No trust, no exchange. To gain the trust of your potential consumers, you must therefore develop a reputation to be credible in their eyes.



  • Douyin

The short video app that has boomed last year. Just like on YouTube, opening your channel will allow wide and regular distribution of your content. Douyin is particularly appreciated by young people and remains an adequate platform for the dissemination of short videos that can quickly go viral. You can also use KOLs on Douyin for your marketing campaign.

Videos are very popular in China and are becoming a great marketing tool. For example, KOLs can add a link in their videos so the users can easily and quickly buy any of your products.

Douyin is also known to offer cheap ads to marketers which is good news for you! Reaching the Chinese youth thanks to cheap and visible ads. How could it be better?


  • PR (Public Relations)


Refine your public relations will increase your credibility. Indeed, if there is no article on your company or products, it is the quality or even the veracity of your products which can be questioned.

It is important to remember that if your PR does not exist, then you are not worth it.

Note that it goes the same for any business, artist or, more generally, professional that comes into the Chinese market.


Similar in some ways to Pinterest, Little Red Book is both a shopping platform and a forum. Indeed, this platform offers reviews and advice about products from its users but also the possibility of saving certain posts for the creation of tables as on Pinterest.


This social network is therefore based essentially on word-of-mouth and mutual trust of this online community, which can play a lot in the trust relationship with consumers.


It mainly targets young modern women and is rising in the Chinese market game. Thanks to its forum/store hybrid features, this platform is very efficient to convert a user into a buyer (especially for makeup/beauty products and skincare products).

And just as in WeChat, Weibo or Douyin, Little Red Book’s livestream use is growing a lot and increases brands’ sales significantly. Brands or KOLs can program a livestream, invite users to attend it, remind them the livestream is coming, produce the event and sell even more!



Rule number 3: choose right partner


To sum up, as in some western countries, CBD remains a sensitive subject also in China. Indeed, if your choice is not made on the right terms to promote it (and you even use prohibited words!), your account can be blocked, or even deleted.


GMA is a team of specialists with a wealth of experience in marketing in sensitive industries. Don’t let non-professional people destroy your image in China, GMA will never let you make that kind of mistakes.

As you can see, launching your CBD business in China is not easy and can involve many obstacles if your knowledge of the Chinese market is limited. This is why we will be delighted to accompany you on this adventure.



  • Great article.
    So CBD is legal in China? correct.

  • Hi there,

    I run a cbd company in England and would love to get in touch with you guys about bringing my business to China.

  • I live in France and CBD products are slowly popping up here. The CBD products’ entry in France is kind of shy, but it’s considered as super trendy and very effective!
    I would not have thought that it would come to China, and even faster than in a European country. This shows us how Chinese consumers are open-minded and willing to try brand new products!

  • lawlong

    It is very interesting to see how much Chinese mentalities are evolving. In general, they are very open to new products and they even welcome sensitive products such as CBD. I saw a video of a Chinese influencer introducing a CBD mask to her followers. The interest was clear, the mask was well sold, but it shows that this type of brand should educate its customers first.

Leave your comment