Chinese interior design is a rich tapestry of history and tradition. At its core, it values harmony, balance, and nature, as seen in age-old practices like Feng Shui. Traditional homes often spotlight courtyards, symbolic colors, and nature motifs. However with globalization in the late 20th century, China began blending its time-honored designs with Western influences, creating a diverse and evolving design landscape.
China is also the world’s fastest-growing furniture market for almost everything and the golden age for interior design business. In this article, we will explain the biggest trends in the home decor and interior design market, as well as present the best strategy and marketing tips for all interior design and furniture businesses.
Better City Better Life: The Slogan that Changes the Chinese Way of Life
The dramatic growth of China’s economy transformed its society in both qualitative (lifestyle, thinking…) and quantitative aspects (rising income and demands…).
In that context, the interior design industry in China also expanded “fast and furious” in the past 2 decades, opening numerous opportunities for foreign designers and interior design companies.
China is currently looking for foreign talents who have experience abroad and who are creative and diligent.
The international growth opportunities in China appear endless making now the best time to work in China!
Overview of Home Decor and Interior Design in China
The interior design industry is large in China and the demand for interior design services is growing fast. In the past five years, the number of companies in the interior decoration industry rose to 183,200.
According to Statista, China’s home decor market is on the rise. It’s set to earn $20.23 billion in 2023 and jump to $28.83 billion by 2027. This growth is because more people are moving to cities, earning more money, and wanting unique furniture and fancy decorations.
Interestingly, even during the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, when many businesses struggled, people in China were buying more home decor items.
Nowadays, things like wall decorations, lighting, and bedding are becoming more popular worldwide. The global home decor market is expected to grow to $939.64 billion by 2030. However, China’s growth rate is much faster than the world’s average.
Decorative items are the most popular, followed by curtains, carpets, and candles. This change means furniture makers need to adapt. More and more, Chinese buyers are looking for international styles for their homes.
Factors Leading to the Rise of the Interior Design Industry
Economic Growth and Urban Expansion
Urbanization is a contributing factor to China’s strong growth in this industry. As Chinese people continue to move from the countryside to cities, they are influenced by the city life of which elegant living space is an important part.
Another growth driver is the changing lifestyle and increasing disposable income of the Chinese middle class.
Chinese middle class is not only getting larger with nearly 400 million people in 2023 but also starts spending more on interior products as their income and lifestyle evolves drastically.
Shift in Lifestyles
The modern Chinese family, especially the younger generation, seeks comfort, functionality, and style. There’s a growing demand for spaces that reflect individual personalities and cater to modern lifestyles, hence the growing reliance on professional interior designers.
The increasing interest in trendy and modern interior design for living and working spaces is further encouraged by the local digital habits of younger, over-connected Chinese generations.
Taking interior design from private to public
In the past, the Chinese tended to keep their interiors as private spheres reserved only for family members, but now, pictures of interiors are shared on Chinese social networks like WeChat or Xiaohongshu as a new way to express aesthetic style & personality. These networks are also used to promote or discover new creative ideas or trends.
Taking on this opportunity, KOLs (Key Opinion leaders) who used to focus on fashion now pose in a creative interior setting and with stylish furniture items that further reflect their style and design culture. The influence of social media raises people’s knowledge and enhances their need to have a well-designed house.
One example is the famous fashion and lifestyle blogger Savislook, who has shared “how-to” videos of her home decoration on Weibo and YouTube. She explains her furniture choices, which mix international brands with more vintage looks, in a casual and friendly tone, while posting pictures of those pieces.
Savislook interior and Ligne Roset chair. Photo: Savislook Instagram
Magazines such as Elle Decor China, Domus, and Ideat China are also influencing this new generation, especially through their editors who are becoming specialized KOLs and experts on modern and contemporary design. The lifestyle editor of Elle Deco China, Sugar Lee (@DemonSugar), for instance, now has 20,000 followers on Weibo.
Western or Chinese Designers?
The interior design service market is becoming more competitive — both clients and the public are now seeking true innovation and uniqueness.
Chinese designers, in particular, interior and product designers actually grown relatively fast and have surpassed the previous generation. There are a lot of young and middle-aged product designers and interior designers who have received many international awards. They do a good job and are well-received.
Now more Chinese young and middle-aged designers are beginning to rise, and their abilities are as good as those of Western designers. Chinese architects are starting to find their own voice and style.
We also see more and more Chinese designers handle big projects such as shopping centers and commercial buildings. Now it’s the time to celebrate Chinese interior design, but there is still a place and demand for foreign interior design projects.
Major Design Trends in 2023
There are some significant trends helping to form what Chinese consumers want in their home décor consumption:
Neo-Chinese style is the most popular style in China, especially among high-class clients. The neo-Chinese style combines modern elements with tradition, the European luxury with ancient Chinese furniture to create a sophisticated and contemporary look.
Talented local designers are inspired by the historical craftsmanship of the old Song and Ming dynasties and Chinese philosophies like Taoism to create China-inspired design pieces (like Ming dynasty antique table or chairs) that fit today’s needs. This style is everywhere in China: luxury hotels, houses, shopping malls, or coffee chains.
An international contemporary designer style is booming with newer generations who favor minimalist aesthetics. This style suits small apartments and is very functional, especially for small spaces with that sense of simplicity and natural materials. IKEA is a big name representing this style.
The Blend of Cultures: East Meets West
As China becomes more integrated with global markets, there’s a significant influence of Western design aesthetics on traditional Chinese interiors. This merger results in unique design outcomes that celebrate both global modernity and traditional Chinese values. For instance, one might find a living room that combines sleek, minimalist Western furniture with Chinese art or antique pieces.
Scarce and Fresh-Released Art Pieces in Demand
Young, urban Chinese have a strong desire for culture, sophistication, and knowledge — but they also want their home interiors to look sharp. Therefore, having exclusive or unique products that tell a story is a must for their home interior standards. In fact, looking for the latest art pieces or discovering new, upcoming artists to display in their homes and share with friends is something many trendy Chinese are interested in. Purchasing and investing in art has become a real lifestyle (even a habit) for the wealthy Chinese, particularly the younger generations.
Embracing Sustainability and Eco-friendly Designs
With growing environmental awareness, many in China are seeking designs that are both stylish and sustainable. This trend manifests in various ways, from choosing recycled or upcycled materials for furnishings to incorporating energy-saving appliances and fixtures. Natural elements, like indoor plants and water features, are also becoming popular, as they add both beauty and eco-friendly benefits.
Chinese’s spiritual decor objects to consider
Sculptural lighting, paper lanterns, and paintings are very important for the Chinese. Additionally, what is still present in almost all Chinese houses is the “tea ceremony” space. Even a small corner can be used to put a Chinese traditional tea table with all related stuff for tea.
Foreign designers should also consider, for their projects in China, the typical Chinese arch door which is known as “moon gate” and is usually used in gardens. It normally functions as a pedestrian passageway but is also used for interiors. “Moon Gate” has strong spiritual meanings for the Chinese. Besides, Chinese ink wash painting and calligraphy are favorite elements and they suit well with almost every interior style.
Best Marketing Strategies for Interior Design-Related Businesses
Chinese people spend hours browsing the Internet, interacting with stores, asking questions on social media, and looking for reviews about products and services they are interested in. Therefore, foreign architects, designers, brands, and manufacturers should implement an aggressive advertising, marketing, and branding strategy with a focus on digital channels to compete in this market.
Be visible on the Baidu search engine
In China, the number one search engine is not Google but Baidu with more than 70% of the market share.
Baidu has become one of the most important frontiers you need to include in your marketing strategy for the Chinese market. Considering that over 60% of Chinese consumers do extensive research before purchasing a product or service, you can imagine how competitive it is to rank for top positions on this search engine. Mandarin content is a must since the Chinese People use the local language to conduct searches.
Besides, Baidu has a different set of rules for ranking from Google, thus requiring different techniques.
Baidu is very important for people in China because it helps everyone meet what they are looking for (products, services, brands, clients, suppliers…). Baidu also owns a set of other useful tools that connect and influence people’s daily lives to a significant extent:
- Baidu Tieba is China’s largest online community. Baidu Tieba uses “bars”, or forums, as a place for users to socially interact.
- Baidu Baike is a web-based encyclopedia that is very similar to Wikipedia.
- Baidu Zhidao which allows the community to ask Questions and Answers. Think Quora.
Being prominent on Baidu and its various networks can ensure huge traffic even though it may seem overwhelming and challenging at first to navigate through the Baidu system.
E-reputation is what people talk about you online
In China, it’s mandatory to invest in an e-reputation strategy. In the Chinese culture, reputation is everything. Many brands never sell because they don’t have enough “online mentions” from Chinese people. Due to all the scandals, Chinese consumers need to be reassured. They no longer trust brands that don’t have good reviews on the Internet. In addition, Chinese consumers buy into the recommendations of their peers.
Being active online on social media, forums, and publishers… as well as regularly posting content and encouraging consumers to make positive comments about your products/ services will help you develop strong brand awareness and credibility. It is also crucial to manage negative feedback or scandals (if any) since bad news spreads faster than light in China.
Engage with customers at their favorite place – social media
China’s digital landscape is distinct from the rest of the world, with its unique set of social media platforms that dominate the communication channels. For businesses aiming to build a presence in the Asian interior design market, understanding and leveraging these platforms is paramount.
WeChat is the most popular social media with more than 1.3 billion monthly active users. It’s the perfect place to communicate with your consumers and publish content valuable for them. You can regularly share design ideas or decoration inspirations to motivate your fans and engage with them as well as learn more about their taste and wishes.
Chinese consumers are also used to sharing personal thoughts and product reviews on their WeChat Moment.
If they are inspired by you and thus mention you on their WeChat, your brand can significantly improve awareness and gain WOM effect. WeChat has various features such as Moments Ads, mini-programs, push notifications, geolocation capabilities, e-commerce, customer service capabilities, etc, perfectly to boost customer engagement and brand loyalty.
Weibo is another efficient way to promote your brand awareness. It’s a microblogging platform that is more “open” than WeChat, helping your brand and its messages reach out to a larger base of audience.
It allows you to:
- Interact with your consumers.
- Increase your brand recognition
- Publish content to increase your visibility (pictures, ads, videos…).
- Convert followers to customers.
Weibo needs to be included in any marketing strategy in China because it’s the most powerful social media platform here.
RED (Xiaohongshu) is another significant player, primarily catering to a young, urban, and predominantly female audience. This platform is a mix of social media and e-commerce, where users share their product experiences, lifestyle stories, and more. For interior designers, it’s an excellent space to share design inspirations, decor ideas, and even product recommendations.
Enhance Your Credibility Through KOLs‘ Endorsement
Influencers or KOLs are really powerful in China. They are considered experts in certain fields thanks to regularly sharing interesting thoughts, news, guides, and advice… thus attracting huge numbers of followers who trust them and their opinions. Chinese people especially put huge trust in their favorite KOLs due to a long history of being scammed and cheated by brands as well as an overwhelming diversity of products available on the market.
KOLs can direct their attention and influence their buying decisions. It is crucial to employ a KOL in your communication strategy. He or she will be the ambassador of your brand and help you to expand your awareness towards Chinese consumers. Chinese consumers trust KOLs more than brands. A Chinese KOL also brings your brand closer to Chinese consumers even though you may represent a foreign concept or style.
Make a Mark at Trade Shows in China
Participation in trade shows can be a significant catalyst for businesses aiming to penetrate the Chinese market. These events offer a unique opportunity to showcase products, services, and innovations to a targeted audience. Moreover, they provide a platform for direct interactions with industry peers, potential clients, and even competitors.
China hosts a plethora of interior design and decor trade shows throughout the year, with cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou often being the epicenters. Events such as the Shanghai International Furniture Fair and the China International Building Decoration Fair are prime examples.
Preparation is key to making the most of these events. This includes understanding the event’s audience, having clear objectives (whether it’s brand visibility, networking, or securing business deals), and ensuring an impressive booth setup that stands out. Live demonstrations, interactive sessions, or even tech-enhanced displays, like VR walkthroughs, can capture attention and leave a lasting impression.
Sustainability as a Selling Point
The wave of sustainability is sweeping across industries, and interior design is no exception. Emphasizing the use of eco-friendly designs and materials can distinguish a brand in the market. There’s an increasing demand in China for designs that focus on green living and energy conservation. By offering design solutions that minimize environmental impact and champion sustainable living, businesses can tap into this growing trend and appeal to environmentally-conscious consumers.
We Are Experts in Digital Marketing in China
And we believe you need Digital Marketing to succeed in China.
Navigating the dynamic and vast Chinese market can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone. Gentlemen Marketing Agency, with our expertise and a deep understanding of the Chinese landscape, is your perfect partner to make your mark in China’s thriving interior design industry.
We specialize in tailoring digital marketing strategies, leveraging the most popular social media platforms, and optimizing your brand’s presence on search engines like Baidu. From creating compelling content that resonates with the local audience to managing high-impact campaigns on platforms like WeChat, Douyin, and RED, our team is dedicated to ensuring your brand stands out.
Moreover, our vast network can provide you with invaluable insights and opportunities to participate in top-tier trade shows, ensuring you get the best platform to showcase your designs.
China’s interior design market is burgeoning, and there’s never been a better time to dive in. Don’t let the complexities of the market deter you. With Gentlemen Marketing Agency by your side, you’re equipped with the tools, knowledge, and expertise to succeed.
Ready to amplify your brand in China? Contact Gentlemen Marketing Agency today and let’s craft your success story together.