The China newsletter - June 2024

The China Newsletter
June 2024

01 Jul 2024

Welcome to the June edition of our China newsletter! As we step into the summer months, we are excited to bring you the latest updates, insights, and trends from our industry

During China’s Brand and Quality Online Shopping Festival and the 618 shopping festival, e-commerce sales surged, driving total online retail sales to 5.77 trillion RMB ($807.8 billion) from January to May. This growth was accompanied by increased service consumption and a rise in AI-related products, as retail giants Tmall and adapted to changing consumer habits, resulting in year-round discounts and boosted sales.

In this issue:

  • China’s 618 festival witnessed Tmall and revolutionizing retail with advanced technology and strategic partnerships, adapting to evolving consumer behaviors and driving substantial sales through high-end fashion and tailored loyalty programs.
  • China has emerged as a leader in social commerce, outpacing India and demonstrating growth in markets like Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, with the McKinsey report emphasizing the utilization of vast user bases and platform integrations in China and India.
  • The Asian cruise market, driven by Chinese demand, aims to capture a significant share of global passenger traffic by offering exclusive and personalized experiences for the younger demographic, underlining the significance of understanding Gen-Zers and collaborating with influencers on platforms like Xiaohongshu for effective customer engagement and conversion.
  • China’s social media buzzed with Paris Men’s Fashion Week as Asian celebrities like Jackson Wang and Wang Yibo made a captivating impact.
  • The hashtag “Mixed-race makeup” has amassed 1.37 billion plays on Douyin, underscoring its immense popularity. This trend symbolizes cultural hybridization and mirrors China’s evolving beauty standards and identity perceptions.
  • The zoo craze in China reflects young people’s pursuit of slower, nature-connected lifestyles. Zoos are becoming more humanized and animal-centered, transforming into complex leisure parks that offer a diverse range of online and offline experiences to meet various demands.

Latest Market Trends

Reshaping Retail: Insights from China’s 618 Festival

During this year’s 618 festival in China, retail giants Tmall and utilized advanced technology and strategic partnerships to reshape the retail industry. Consumer behaviors and priorities have evolved, leading to year-round discounts and a rise in livestreaming and secondary shopping festivals. Despite a diminished buzz, sentiments around the festival remained positive, reflecting changes in the online shopping landscape rather than consumer sentiment.

High consumer confidence and a strong appetite for high-end goods were evident during the festival, with brands offering exclusive discounts and limited-edition releases, driving substantial traffic and sales. Both fast and high-end fashion experienced positive sales boosts, with eco-friendly products and personalized items gaining traction among consumers.

Tmall and made notable pivots during the festival to navigate shifts in consumer preferences and economic conditions. Tmall focused on loyalty programs and high-end goods, while emphasized competitive pricing and rapid delivery, aligning with practical demands of post-pandemic Chinese consumers. The luxury e-commerce sales in China are estimated to grow by 5% year-on-year, with online sales now constituting 42% of the market. Notably, there is a consumer shift towards, Pinduoduo, and Xiaohongshu, indicating changing preferences in online platforms

China’s Dominance in Social Commerce: A Global Perspective

China has become the global leader in social commerce, where consumers browse and purchase directly through social media and content platforms. According to a McKinsey & Company report, China has been at the forefront of this trend for years, outpacing India’s market. Emerging markets such as Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are catching up, with consumers in these regions spending more on social media purchases than those in Europe and the US.

The report highlights differences in social commerce adoption and spending patterns across regions. China and India have evolved significantly, leveraging vast user bases and platform integrations. Meanwhile, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are experiencing rapid growth, driven by increasing smartphone penetration and social media usage. Western markets have struggled to achieve similar success, facing challenges in expanding social commerce.

McKinsey forecasts the US social commerce market to grow to $145 billion by 2027, driven by Gen Z and millennials who are more likely to make social media purchases. Douyin and Xiaohongshu, China’s social commerce titans, have demonstrated remarkable performance, with Douyin recording a total livestreaming duration of 40.5 million hours during a recent shopping festival and Xiaohongshu seeing a 5.4-fold increase in order volumes during the same period.

Unlocking the Power of Social Commerce: Navigating the Cruise Industry’s Path to Personalized Experiences

The Asian cruise market is expected to capture 17.5% of global passenger traffic by 2027, driven by a surge in Chinese demand. Chinese tourists are projected to reach 14 million annual passengers on global and local cruises by 2035. With 45% of Chinese cruise passengers under 40, there is a growing appetite for exclusive travel experiences among this younger demographic. These travelers seek personalized experiences and are willing to budget around 10,000 euros for a week-long trip in Europe.

Chinese travelers are increasingly exploring cruise destinations beyond traditional ports, with places like Venice, Barcelona, and the Mediterranean growing in popularity. This shift aligns with the influence of social media on travel preferences, as younger generations seek unique experiences. The domestic cruise industry in China is thriving, introducing ships tailored to diverse preferences of local travelers. To appeal to luxury travelers, providers are focusing on customization and personalization, leveraging digital platforms, social commerce, and tailored services.

Understanding the culturally and gastronomically minded Gen-Zers is crucial for global and Chinese cruising companies. Creating emotional connections and utilizing new media strategies are essential for successful customer engagement and conversion in the dynamic travel industry. Brands can collaborate with influencers on platforms like Xiaohongshu to showcase unique cruise destinations and experiences, driving engagement and bookings through social commerce and user-generated content.

Effective customer relationship management (CRM) strategies are vital for tailoring marketing and services for Chinese tourists. This includes understanding their preferences and behaviors to create personalized travel experiences that resonate with their cultural and gastronomic interests. By leveraging digital platforms and social media, cruise companies can enhance customer engagement and drive higher conversion rates.

Zoo Tours Captivate Young Urban Chinese: A New Trend in Entertainment and Brand Collaboration

Following the city walk craze, young urban Chinese are now captivated by zoo tours. Zoos offer a unique blend of entertainment and escape, sparking a fascination with personalized animal experiences. During the Qingming Festival, searches for “domestic zoo” surged by 192%, and ticket orders increased by 649%. The trend continued during the May Day holiday, with zoos experiencing a dramatic rise in visitors. Top destinations include Beijing Wildlife Park, Nanjing Hongshan Zoo, Shanghai Animal Park, and Guangzhou Zoo.

The “star animal” phenomenon, where specific animals become social media sensations, drives this trend. For example, Guangzhou Zoo’s lion A Hang and Hongshan Zoo’s white-faced monkey DuDu have garnered millions of views on Xiaohongshu. This popularity has led to high demand for related merchandise and unique brand collaborations.

Brands like Judydoll, Samsung Galaxy, North Face Kids, and Hey Tea have partnered with zoos for themed products and interactive experiences. Zoos are evolving into entertainment hubs, offering cafés, concerts, art exhibitions, and even overnight stays.

As zoos continue to attract young visitors, they present valuable collaboration opportunities for brands aiming to connect with this demographic.

Fashion, Luxury & Design 

Fashion Week Buzz: Asian celebrities Ignite Social Media with Spectacular Show

With the Olympics approaching, Paris is bustling with activity. Adding to the excitement, numerous celebrities arrived for the menswear circuit. Louis Vuitton, under Pharrell Williams’ creative direction, kicked off the week with a sports-inspired showcase. This was followed by Rick Owens’ explosive spectacle, setting a dynamic tone for the city’s menswear scene.

Asian stars, including Louis Vuitton ambassador Jackson Wang, Japanese actor Dori Sakurada at Dior, and Wang Yibo at Loewe, ignited China’s social media sphere.

  • Louis Vuitton: Pharrell Williams’ fourth show for Louis Vuitton featured sports-inspired designs, from football-shaped bags to motocross jackets. Despite a star-studded front row, Chinese netizens had mixed reactions to the collection.
  • Dior Homme: Kim Jones’ Dior show highlighted South African potter Hylton Nel’s ceramics, with standout pieces like a 2,000-hour embroidered jacket. The front row included stars like Bad Bunny and Robert Pattinson, underscoring Dior’s cultural influence in Asia.
  • Loewe: Jonathan Anderson’s Loewe show, held at the Garde Républicaine’s Célestins barracks, featured art-inspired designs. Chinese celebrity Wang Yibo’s presence captivated the audience.
  • Rick Owens: Rick Owens’ “Hollywood” show mixed influences from biblical epics to art deco, emphasizing sustainable practices. Chinese netizens described it as an art performance, reminiscent of a sci-fi movie.

Rising Beauty Trends: The Surge of ‘Mixed-Race’ Makeup on Xiaohonahu and Douyin 

Chinese beauty trends like “Douyin makeup,” “manhua eyelashes,” and the “Asian baby girl” look are popular on TikTok and beyond. Recently, the “mixed-race” beauty trend has gained traction on platforms like Xiaohongshu and Douyin. “Mixed-race makeup” has 1.37 billion plays on Douyin, while on Xiaohongshu it has 3.82 million views. This trend features strong facial contouring, pale skin, and colored contact lenses, reflecting evolving beauty standards influenced by both Eastern and Western aesthetics.

Social media plays a crucial role in spreading this trend, with hashtags like “mixed-race makeup” amassing billions of views. Experts note that this fascination with mixed-race beauty is not new but has been amplified by digital platforms. While some see it as a form of cultural hybridization, others criticize it for reinforcing Eurocentric beauty standards.

Colored contact lens brands like Hapa Kristin have capitalized on this trend, further fueling its popularity. Despite a growing acceptance of diverse beauty standards, the trend highlights ongoing complexities in cultural identity and perceptions of race in China.

If you are interested in entering the Chinese market, please contact us.


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