How to prepare for China International Furniture Fair?

CIFF 2020

As the Chinese furniture market is experiencing steady growth, foreign brands are legitimately trying their best to get a piece of the cake, and one popular way to do so is by taking part in the China International Furniture Fair. In this post, we tell you everything you know to get there ready and get the most deal possible:

What Is CIFF?

CIFF is China International Furniture Fair held annually in China. Its 46th edition is going to take place in Shanghai on Sep.7-10, 2020 at National Exhibition and Convention Center (NECC). China International Furniture Fair was founded in 1998 and it is held twice per year in Shanghai and Guangzhou.

CIFF is mostly suitable for foreign businesses involved into the following industries:

  • Furniture & Furnishing;
  • Office Supplies;
  • Woodworking Industry & Furniture Accessories, Materials.

CIFF covers the following segments:

  • Home Furniture;
  • Home Décor & Home Textiles;
  • Outdoor & Leisure;
  • Office Furniture;
  • Commercial Furniture;
  • Hotel Furniture;
  • Furniture Machinery & Raw Materials.

CIFF is one out of many furniture Fairs happening on the mainland, check out this post to discover more.

Why is China International Furniture Fair a must for you?

  1. It is one of the largest furniture fairs in the world (you can check the rate here) and is considered to be an all-category super exhibition.
  2. It gathers over 340 000 professional visitors annually.
  3. It showcases the entire industry chain.
  4. It facilitates brand activities, provides a fashion and trend feast.
  5. It offers an extensive exhibition experience and on-site commercial atmosphere which is conducive to drive sales.
  6. It helps companies to explore both domestic and overseas markets.

How to prepare for CIFF to attract Chinese customers?

What you think you need:

  1. A Brand (preferably with a good name back in your country or in the rest of the world).
  2. Registration at the expo.
  3. Money to install a booth.
  4. A skillful team.
  5. Confidence.
  6. Luck luck luck.

The sad truth is that you might have that all at the top-top level but not make any deal with Chinese people (we only focus on them now) during the expo whatsoever.

All the above-mentioned points are indubitably essential. However, this is just something that you need to participate in. It doesn’t really imply any focus on your result – it puts you in one line with other exhibitors. (Do you still remember how many of those..?)

What would definitely make you noticeable?

In China, you have to do as the Chinese do. And they do it differently. Believe me, when you come here you will see that there can be an abyss between their social habits and yours.

However, there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Once you understand their mentality, you realize that they are even more inclined to act according to a certain pattern.

In the furniture market, the pattern can be characterized by the following traits:

  • Chinese people need you to be present in Their digital world;
  • They will inevitably look for facts to support your credibility;
  • It is efficient if they are reminded of your existence regularly.
  1. Presence in the market

Being present in the Chinese market is not the same as being a worldwide known furniture brand. Why?

  • China used to be a really isolated state until recently, and the consequences can still be seen;
  • Behind the Great Wall, they have created their own system, which means they live in their own world, mostly, without knowing what’s happening outside;
  • They have their own alternatives for Google (Baidu, 1.2 billion users), Facebook (WeChat, almost 1 billion active users), etc.;
  • Before making a decision to buy or cooperate, they have a tendency to check any information on their own online.

So how does that influence your performance at China International Furniture Fair? Especially, if you are a complete newbie HERE. Take it as if you go to Mars if you like it, and no one knows there about you, and they have different ways to make research on your business. And why would they trust you, after all?

The same is true for the Chinese people, however strange this might seem. You will find out that when they will find your booth:

  • They might not notice it even, if they have never heard about your brand before;
  • If your booth is huge, they would approach it but it is highly unlikely they would listen to your story about it.


  • They don’t speak English:
  • Most importantly, they come to the expo to collect materials and conduct a research thereafter!

The stages of the research they do:

  1. They go on Baidu (which is an alternative for Google, again).
  2. They type in your brand’s name.
  3. They check your website or a Baike page (Chinese Wiki, however, a more creditable one) if you have any of those.
  4. They skim through any backlinks from forums that appear on Baidu.

You might understand here that if you are not there, it is impossible to find you.

Other aspects are as follows:

  • if you have a website, and they find it, but it has no Chinese version, it is a big problem for them as long as LESS than 10% know SOME English;
  • if you have a website with a Chinese version even, but with a hosting different from cn/hk/sg, and it is slow or blocked even (a very typical situation here), why would they spare 10 minutes more or whatever to open it with 3000 more options at hand..?

The conclusion is that for your visibility in China you should better have a website:

  • in Mandarin language;
  • with a hosting that would work smoothly here;
  • that would be designed in Chinese ways to match their taste;
  • with an added Click-to-Chat option to answer any questions, optionally;
  • optimized for Baidu (the mechanisms here are different from the ones on Google!).

As it comes, together with your visibility in the Chinese market, you give them a sense that you are really here in China and the first impression about you. This is the way to program their thoughts about you in a way that you would want.

  1. Nurture some reputation from their side

Introducing yourself in a good way is not enough in China for the following reasons:

  • If there was anything wrong with your brand, you would never say it, and they know it;
  • There are 3000 competitors who might have already done the same;
  • Fake rates and scam rates are very high in China – they prefer to doublecheck;
  • On a deep mental level, they are never explorers or risk-takers – they rely on public opinions or experts’/leaders’ viewpoints;
  • They only trust locals, in addition to that.

When a Chinese person takes your business card or your hand-out materials at an exhibition, he then comes back home and surfs through the Chinese web to know more about you. If he finds a website, it’s good. If he finds other local sources mentioning you in a positive way, it’s better. This is what is called Reputation.


You might think they could easily find out how great you are for the consumers outside China. But, believe me, this is really similar to going to Mars:

  • they simply don’t have access to this information;
  • sometimes they might suffer from a lack of knowledge and what seems great outside is nothing for them;
  • they just enjoy following the crowd so they need you to have this crowd around you here.

How to build up positive reputation for a foreign brand before CIFF?

  • Create a Baike page

Baike is Chinese Wikipedia which implies that your company has undergone an official verification in China. This adds to your credibility. However, still, it cannot create a buzz around your name.

  • Use forums

Forums like Zhihu and Zhidao are very similar to Quora. They might offer a lot of data. What’s more important is that they are largely popular and trustworthy in China. Chinese people share their user experiences online and give recommendations about brands or products.

Forums might help you to let them get a clearer picture of you once they search and feel much more inclined to buy your product or cooperate with you.

  • Show up in press

It is not only that Chinese people trust the majority, but they also believe in expertise. It is much like their governmental and social order: they have a leader who is an expert, and they absolutely trust him and act accordingly.

Before China International Furniture Fair, make sure professional furniture or home and lifestyle-related digital sources mention you in their publications. This gives authority in the Chinese market. Regular publications smartly targeting your audience would prevent you from being forgotten just after CIFF is over.

  1. Appear on China’sSocial platforms

Consumers and businesses in China have both entered the digital era and got literally absorbed by it. Using it is a good method to pop up in targeted minds regularly after your participation in CIFF.

Once you are there at an exhibition you might notice that most of the time they don’t really approach any managers to talk to. They do take business cards for the purposes I have highlighted above, but they also scan the QR-codes.

QR-codes give access to the company’s profile on Chinese platforms. In the furniture market, this is mostly the WeChat account that they reach through scanning the code.

What does WeChat Official Account give to a CIFF attendee?

  • Brand-related information;
  • Company’s activities and promotions;
  • A chance for doing more research.

What does WeChat Official Account give to a CIFF exhibitor?

  • A more efficient way to introduce yourself;
  • A chance to use regular newsletters as a tool to influence potential customers or partners;
  • A better contact with visitors;
  • An opportunity for re-targeting.

WeChat is helpful not only to keep your CIFF visitors close but also for getting access to someone who has missed out on your booth.

WeChat has +1 billion active users and covers the whole country – consider this.

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When to start preparing for CIFF?

Preparation is always a process rather than a single action. The result you get at CIFF is proportional to the amount of time you dedicate.

gma - DIgital Marketing Agency China

For rational distribution of your time and maximum leverage from your efforts, don’t hesitate to contact us.

We are GMA – we know how to challenge Chinese consumer behavior.

Contact us if you are on your way there;)

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