In 2020 China’s kitchen appliances market was estimated at 51,9 billion USD, with a forecast to grow further at a pace of 2,8% annually and reach the 60 billion USD benchmark before 2025
What makes Chinese market of kitchen appliances a perspective arena for foreign brands?
- Low penetration rate in 3rd and 4th tier cities in China;
- A boom in real estate market.
- A tendency to renew personal kitchen appliances.
- A drive for higher quality.
Most demanded kitchen appliances in China:
- Range hoods;
- Water heaters;
- Gas stoves;
- Rice cookers;
- Microwave ovens.
Most fast-growing segments of the kitchen appliances market:
- Coffee machines;
- Ovens and baking utensils.
Top 10 Kitchen Appliances Market Consumer Trends in China
Greater brand awareness and even greater importance of brand’s reputation.
Falling price sensitivity.
Emphasis on design, functions and features.
Medium and high-end products dominance.
Growing demand for eco-friendly and energy-efficient products.
Growing preference for smart appliances.
Rising interest in multifunctional products with a purpose to use space more efficiently.
Growing popularity of built-in kitchen appliances.
Increasing requests for healthcare-oriented products (small kitchen appliances, in particular).
Strong localization of the Chinese market.
!!! Trends Causing Troubles !!!
Out of the above mentioned list of 10 trends, most kitchen appliances exporters to China would definitely consider everything related to functionality and features, designs. Generally speaking, this would be fair for the world market on the whole.
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However, I want to place emphasis on brand awareness and localization as long as we are talking about the Chinese market and Chinese consumers.
Why is brand awareness crucial?
Brand awareness is tightly bonded with a brand’s reputation in the market. To put a long story short, brand awareness implies having a lot of people speaking good about the brand. When we speak about China and the rest of the world’s big kitchen appliances markets, we should point at one major disparity here:
It is significantly easier for a brand to enter any new market in the world if it has already gained credit in another big market (like the US, Italy, UK, etc.). Meanwhile, in China, this would barely be any indicator of value for money…
Brand awareness starts from zero in China. Not that complicated but way too different a mentality is a reason. Check this article to find the details.
Kitchen appliances brands coming to China and putting stress on their domestic or even worldwide reputation are making a big mistake when they think they can simply let the Chinese know how good they are outside China and rest on their laurels. However, China requires one’s special effort.
Why is localization crucial?
Localization implies that a common trend in the market will not necessarily be true for the targeted market as well.
Let’s see what is special about China’s kitchen appliances market. Culture and mentality have added its soft touch here. You only know it if you have seen life here..
For instance, foreigners who live in China know that Chinese people barely ever bake their food. So they basically don’t need ovens. Currently, the first and second-tier cities show a growing demand for that (however, still mostly in B2B). But it is pretty pointless to target the less developed and more traditional Chinese areas with ovens.
Another big trend is an induction cooker. However, most of the Chinese people are still using wok at home, so the targeted consumer can only be confined to the progressive citizens of the big cities here.
China is good for the fact that what is not popular here at the moment can still take over after a while and become a huge success. However, this should be guarded and given consideration.
How to get into the market of kitchen appliances in China?
Being a foreign brand is a big advantage in the Chinese market because it implies quality and prestige. However, the actions to penetrate the market for a foreign brand are no different from the ones taken by a local kitchen appliances brand.
Website and WeChat Account
For businesses involved in e-commerce in China, the website serves as sort of an introductory tool. It should not be too complicated but it should provide general information about the brand (maybe a beautiful story) and the products.
Apart from the content, which is obviously crucial, there are a few more intricacies:
- it is a must to have a website with hosting in China/Singapore/HongKong as others might be blocked anytime;
- it is essential that the website is all in the Mandarin language as an average consumer in China won’t bother to translate your English texts, let alone any other alien language.
A well-designed website (both technically and visually) will also contribute to your visibility on the Chinese domestic internet.
It is highly recommended for a kitchen appliances brand in China to get an official WeChat account. Here are the reasons:
- WeChat can boast having 1 billion active users in China with them checking their account for 4 hours per day on average;
- WeChat account for businesses is an officially registered tool so it adds credibility to the brand;
- WeChat is good for a brand to introduce itself (using an e-brochure, for instance);
- WeChat is perfect for promotions with regular newsletters it allows to send to its followers;
- WeChat allows to open mini-apps and a store;
- WeChat has its own payment system which is incredibly convenient and popular.
E-reputation in China
It is not a fast and easy task for a foreign kitchen appliances brand to penetrate the Chinese market (and not even to get followers on WeChat) for the following reasons:
- Kitchen appliances is something you buy for a long term purpose – it is not wise to take risks with that;
- There are many well-known and highly reputed brands here who can satisfy the demand – it is not wise to take a risk with an unknown brand;
- Chinese people, let’s say, like being proud and show off a little bit with what they buy – it is not wise to buy something no one else knows, then;
- There are so many scams and fakes in China – it is not wise to risk like that.
Conclusions and things to consider:
- Chinese people don’t take risks!
- They want to make sure that what they buy is a 100% value for money;
- Good reputation is a way to create that value.
What brings a reputation for a foreign kitchen appliances brand in China:
This is a Chinese alternative to Wikipedia. But in China it means a lot more for a brand to have a page there:
- Baike requires authentication and verification, so for the Chinese people it serves as a proof that you are not a scam at least;
- It gives a chance to introduce oneself in great details and provide any links to your website, or a QR-code to your WeChat account, or the ways of how to find your stores;
- Baike also puts you on top in Baidu search engine (85% of Chinese people use that instead of Google as it is blocked here), so if there’s someone looking for kitchen appliances on web the brands with a Baike page would pop up first.
Zhihu/Zhidao, Q&A, etc.
These services(zhidao, Zhihu) are reminiscent of the well-known Quora. The task is to open discussions there, make yourself show up in Q&A sections. This gives:
- Wide-range mentioning – makes you known already;
- Mentioning of your products’ features that are attractive for the Chinese consumers;
- Contribution to your ranking on Baidu as well – a big plus to your visibility.
PR public Relations
Public relations are very important in China.
Being mentioned in local expert press releases adds a lot to your positive image in the market:
- Chinese people believe experts who could verify that you are a good brand to buy;
- They also trust verified press sources who would never recommend anything unworthy.
All in all, a good reputation is a strong card of any successful kitchen appliances brand in China. Reputation triggers a desire to buy.
Stores – Retail – Supermarket
For mentality reasons, again, it is wise to get into Chinese e-commerce platforms with your kitchen appliances only once you have already worked on your visibility and reputation and got some credit in this particular market.
After that, as a kitchen appliances manufacturer or retailer, you might want to consider the following platforms:
- JD.com or JD Global (these platforms dominate in kitchen appliances and consumer electronic goods, can host foreign brands’ flagship stores and can use an online payment escrow service to complete transactions in USD);
- Suning Global (an online mall of the largest commercial company in China which focuses mainly on electrical appliances and has its own online payment escrow service both in RMB and foreign currencies);
- Tmall or Tmall Global (China’s leading domestic online marketplace as well as the first platform for the Chinese people to look for high-quality products like kitchen appliances; Tmall Global offers country pavilions to classify products by countries; it uses Alipay for payments).
Branding is everything
Branding is vital for kitchen appliances brands in China. It allows boosting your sales once you have your stores open to the Chinese consumers.
Part of branding is about the reputation that we have discussed before, while part of it implies that it is not only important to let people speak positively about a brand in China, but also to make everyone talk about it. This is the key and the apogee for the sales.
Tools to consider for branding in China:
- Livestreaming and any video content (Chinese frenetic lifestyles dictate a trend to spend more time browsing through videos to stay we-informed, that’s why it has become a popular way for marketers to target this market);
- Social media like Weibo and WeChat, again (as it was said before WeChat has 1 billion users, with Weibo having around 600 million as well.. Perfect tools for regular promotional activities);
- Influencers (Chinese influences, KOL (key opinion leaders) and KOC (key opinion consumers) have huge influence on the locals when they make any decisions in their daily lives – a golden opportunity to make good use of the Chinese feature to follow “leaders” instead of making decisions alone).
A huge market of kitchen appliances in China deserves corresponding consideration, attention to details and a diligently customized strategy.
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