Starting To Sell Furniture In China? Know the basics

In this article, I will reveal what should be considered before promoting foreign furniture in China and cover the most essential aspects of selling it here. The furniture market in China is extremely competitive yet prospective. With 50000 companies manufacturing furniture here, it is still a country of roughly a 1.5billion people, a progressive economy, rising living standards, and a corresponding demand.

Does China need you as a foreign furniture manufacturer or seller?

Yes, they do. Why?

  1. China is buying furniture to satisfy the needs of 1.5billion people and millions of businesses across the country therefore it is not easy to satisfy demand of that scale on its own.
  2. New generation is more trend-savvy, so they are looking for something fresh and unique.
  3. 3rd and 4th tier cities are rising and become open to what foreign markets offer.
  4. Businesses focused on foreign customers want their interiors to look less traditional and be more suitable for foreigners.
  5. When it comes to wooden furniture, China is focused on planting more trees now rather than cutting them down for domestic furniture production;)
  6. Parents are often looking for the trendiest, the most luxurious furniture for their children.
  7. Chinese are keen on foreign interior designs now – this demand cannot be satisfied with local furniture.

So China is a highly prospective market for foreign furniture sales. Seems like you can just appear here, say “Here I am, the foreign furniture seller” and all the buyers will surround you like bees. However, there are some difficulties involved.

Any Difficulties to enter the market?

Yes – there is only one difficulty which is Mentality.

  • Mentality understanding is something that can open all the doors in China to you, shatter all the contenders and conquer the market.
  • Lack of mentality understanding can make it impossible for you to sell a single piece even if you are a renowned furniture seller in your country or elsewhere in the world.

We know the mentality. That’s why you are reading this article.

Let’s take a look at how mentality has shaped China and its furniture market, in particular.

What you think about China (or what prevents you from success – Sorry)

Whether you are focused on selling furniture to Chinese businesses like hotels, restaurants, etc, or individual consumers, you might have the following image of China and its furniture market:

“…China only has cheap low-quality traditional outdated furniture combined with the access of money to buy something better. I only need to expose myself on e-commerce platforms, participate in an exhibition or contact the businesses directly and it will hit off…”

What is the reality?

  • China is the largest exporter of furniture in the world (definitely, low quality would not give that) with the newest technologies applied during manufacturing so it requires effort to sell furniture here;
  • Before starting with e-commerce or exhibitions it is essential to work on one’s visibility and reputation in the Chinese market (this cannot be denied for mentality reasons);
  • Contacting businesses is useless in China, check here.

Is it a good idea to start off with an exhibition?

There is a big annual furniture fair in China, or CIFF, which can boast:

  • 760000 attendees;
  • 4400 brands;
  • 300000 sq m.

However, if you get directly on the fair, the result might be as follows:

  • Chinese people not even approaching your booth;
  • Chinese people not willing to listen to all the details you are trying to tell them about the company;
  • Chinese people asking for a business card, WeChat;
  • Chinese people actively scanning QR codes of that competitor just in front of you;
  • Chinese people not giving their contact/card or not replying to your mails after the fair.

Why does this happen?

  • A fair is a guide of furniture manufacturers for the Chinese people;
  • They ask for your business card not because they are already interested, yet;
  • They collect a lot of cards like that and plan to come home to check the names of the companies;
  • Those companies who are already present in the market will be further scrutinized online for any feedbacks;
  • They scan QR codes for the same reason – to extract information about the companies who already have WeChat, i.e. who are present in the market and seem more trustful;
  • They will only contact those who give a positive impression.

When is it reasonable to exhibit one’s furniture on a fair?

  • When you got visible on the Chinese market;
  • When you already have a positive reputation here.

Where to start when selling furniture in China?

  1. Work on Your Visibility online. Why?
  • Whether they find your furniture in the e-store or they need a foreign manufacturer to cooperate with, they will go online for a search;
  • 85% of your target audience will go on Baidu search engine (against Google with a maximum of 4%) and look for foreign furniture;
  • They will only browse through the first few options and check – in a highly competitive market, do you think they would consider anyone ranking 50001st?
  1. Invest into building up your reputation. Why?
  • Chinese people are used to following a common pattern – they need you to be “verified” by the locals, but not by the overseas community;
  • Positive comments are essential for any player in a highly competitive market with a higher proportion of scams;
  • Recent frequent scandals involving foreign businesses raise concern among Chinese consumers and make it a must for them to take care of their impeccable image;
  • Good reputation is a base for awareness – something that comes from crowds talking about the brand, while Chinese people are vastly influenced by this.
  1. Go Social in China. Why?
  • Most popular Chinese social platforms have up to 1 billion active users Each (like WeChat, Weibo, Douyin, Little Red Book);
  • Social media on average occupies 4-5 hours of each user’s time per day;
  • Social media like WeChat offers a chance to target audience regularly with newsletters;
  • Platforms like Weibo, Douyin give a chance to influence targeted audience more precisely involving KOL (Chinese influencers) focused on the furniture market;
  • Social media account for most of trends set in the furniture market.

When will it start working for you?

The furniture market in China is vast and it will not allow anyone without a proper name here.

All the above-mentioned actions give access to the market however that is a process that takes more time than just opening a store.

We know how to do it for you.

Contact GMA with 8+ years of experience in SEO and Chinese social platforms to get proper advice.

1 comment

  • Hi
    I am looking to get my business known in the Chinese market. We are European based and i feel China would be a very good market for Hotels and large buildings.
    Please can you help?

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