Why is China the most attractive country to sell bird’s nest?

What does bird’s nest mean in China?

Bird nests are an important part of Chinese culture, long appreciated for their alleged health benefits and for being classy brands.

Birds build nests from their saliva which can be collected and sold whole or formulated in healthy drinks and ingredients for cosmetics and food.

History of bird’s nest in China: in Chinese culture for centuries

Traditionally, the nest was boiled twice with rock sugar to make a delicacy known as “bird’s nest soup”, rich in nutrients and with alleged benefits for the health and strengthening of the immune system. The nests are found on the shelves of traditional healers who used them to prevent colds and maintain youth.

Recent studies have linked the nutrients found in edible bird nests with a long list of health benefits, from inhibiting infections to promoting skin regeneration. Studies have also revealed that these nests are very rich in protein, making it popular among the Chinese population.


The current bird’s nest market in China: Demand for bird’s nest is increasingly growing

In recent years, the Chinese bird’s nest industry has experienced rapid growth, mainly due to its skin beauty effect.

Many things have changed in the practice of growing bird’s nests, but what hasn’t changed much is the dynamics of trade, as countries such as Indonesia still collect their nests and export them to China.

China’s insatiable demand for bird nests continues to drive production and exports from several countries.

The top 3 importers of bird’s nest in China

According to the China Chamber of Commerce of Medicines and Health Products Importers and Exporters, the top three importers are:

  1. Indonesia
  2. Malaysia
  3. Thailand

Indonesia is known among Chinese consumers as the source of some of the best quality bird nest worldwide. Data from the Edible Bird’s Nest Market Committee showed that in the first half of 2019, China imported a total of 69.5 tons of bird’s nest and 57% were from Indonesia.

How can brands export edible bird’s nest in China?

To export bird’s nest products in China, countries need the authorization. Currently only Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand can export these products into China.

Cambodia, for example, has just four agricultural products that are officially allowed to ship to China (corn, cassava, rice and yellow bananas) while it continues to negotiate the export of other products such as bird’s nests.

In late April 2020, Nang Sothy, president of Cambodia’s Bird Nest Federation, said that Cambodia will probably not yet be able to export edible bird’s nest products to China this year since the conditions have been set. by the Chinese authorities they are very rigid and complex.

In addition, bird nesting companies must also obtain CNCA authorization for their production facilities before they can export to China. The Malaysia bird’s nest cooperative, Ebn Kowalit, for example, obtained the CNCA in 2018 and now it is exporting in China its bird’s nest.

What are the opportunities for brands that sell bird’s nest in China?

Suppliers, after obtained CNCA, can export their products to the world’s biggest market. The Chinese are particularly interested in the alleged healthy properties of the nests, so the market can offer vast wealth to companies.

In addition, traceability is the highest quality standard in the edible bird’s nest market because each bird nest is guaranteed with the certification of the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine, the national public institute for food quality.

Certified bird nests have a label with an anti-counterfeiting code and a QR code, which allows consumers to easily access information on the quality and origin of the product.

Young consumers are driving the demand for bird’s nest

During the past years, bird’s nest consumption experienced a transition from being a women’s privilege to a cuisine suitable for people of all ages.

Indeed, the bird’s nest is embraced with enthusiasm by the young Chinese generations. Bird’s nest consumption is growing rapidly among highly educated younger generations, particularly those born between 1985 and 2000. In fact, in 2019 over 60% of bird nest purchases on JD were made by people aged between 16 and 35.

These young people are now driving demand for this historically popular treat, which is believed to promote good health with particular benefits for the skin.

You can also read our Strategic Guide to Export Food Brands in China

E-commerce platforms are helping the consumption of bird’s nest

With the help of big data technology and e-commerce, the experience of trying the bird’s nest is accessible not only to a few people, but also to ordinary people.

The young Chinese generation spends a lot of time on digital platforms and in particular on e-commerce platforms to buy products including the bird’s nest. An example are the sales results of these products on the two most used platforms in China: Tmall and JD.com.

  1. Data collected by JD.com shows that the average annual growth rate of bird’s nest sales on JD.com reached more than 50% over the past five years.
  2. Tmall during the recent 618 Shopping Festival showed a sales increase of +110% of bird’s nest compared to the last year.

JD.com, the Chinese e-commerce platform to sell bird’s nest

JD.com(京东Jīngdōng) is a Chinese e-commerce company headquartered in Beijing. It is the second B2C online retailer in China after Alibaba’s Tmall.

Chinese consumers, in particular the young generation, are increasingly accustomed to making most of their purchases online and JD’s is the most reliable e-commerce platform in China makes it one of the best choices for buying items such as bird’s nest.

In addition, JD worldwide, the JD cross-border e-commerce platform enables products to go directly from host country to consumer without an intermediary. Therefore, it is also another good option to sell your products without having a physical presence in China.

JD.com is committed to providing high-quality products to consumers and its new recent partnership with the Indonesia Tong Heng Bird’s Nest Factory, positions it to fulfill the increasing demand of bird’s nest.

Shopping festivals are the best time of the year to promote your products on this platform as the results of previous shopping festivals show how brands can increase sales during this period.

For example, sales of bird’s nest have seen strong growth during e-commerce shopping festivals such as:

  • JD’s 6.18 anniversary
  • Single’s Day
  • Chinese and Western Valentine’s Day
  • Double Ninth Festival

The e-commerce platform Tmall showed a sales increase of +110% of bird’s nest in China

Tmall is the biggest B2C (business-to-consumer) platform in China. Tmall is a general marketplace and offers consumers all kinds of products from over 100,000 brands.

While Tmall global, the Tmall cross border e-commerce version, allows international businesses with no physical presence in mainland China to set up an online store on the platform.

The following image shows:

  • To the left, the great result that bird’s nest has had during the Tmall 618 shopping festival this year
  • To the right, some of bird’s nest products sold on its platform


How can companies promote their bird’s nest in China?

The presence on Chinese online world is essential to sell your products in Chinese market, due to the daily use of mobile phones and, in general, digital platforms.

In fact, most western platforms are blocked in China, therefore presence on the following platforms is required to reach Chinese consumers and increase brand recognition in the Chinese market.

Baidu is the first place where Chinese people go to find brands and products information

Baidu, the Chinese search engine, is the first choice for an advertising campaign to reach Chinese consumers. In fact, Chinese consumers that want to buy products, go on Baidu to find brands and products information.

Since Baidu knows only Mandarin and gives priorities to websites hosted in China, to be visible on Baidu a brand should create:

  • Chinese website
  • Hosted in China
  • get ICP license

For example, as you can see here, the company Aisan bird’s nest has a Baidu account and a Chinese website.


Social media accounts to promote your bird’s nest benefits

Chinese people spend a lot of time on social network to:

  • obtain information about products and brands,
  • obtain suggestions from other people, like KOC and KOLS.

Therefore, social media like Wechat, Weibo and Xiaohongshu (in particular for cosmetics bird’s nest) are increasingly important for them and also for companies that want to promote their products and increase brand awareness among Chinese consumers.

For example, as it is showed in the image below, Aisan bird’s nest is using Wechat as a channel to show:

  1. products images and how to use them
  2. products benefit for the skin
  3. brand’s reliability thanks to traced raw material


Forums like Zhihu are the best places where Chinese people ask questions about products

The image below shows how Zhihu is where Chinese people go to:

  • ask questions about brands and products,
  • discuss their opinions and experience,
  • get recommendations,
  • learn about products functions and benefits.

Zhihu is the most used Chinese Q&A platform, it is similar to Quora and Yahoo answers.

Zhihu allows you:

  • to answer questions about your field,
  • to educate your target audience about your brands/products in an undercover way,
  • to increase your conversion rate and to increase brand awareness.

The platform has an array of features that can be used to create and manage a community around topics related to your brand. A brand should absolutely use this platform to:

  • engage with its audience,
  • exchange information with them,
  • to build its e-reputation.
gma agency

Do you want to know more about How to use Chinese channels to boost sales? Contact GMA a digital marketing agency, specialized in Chinese digital market.

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