Reaching and engaging your consumers


China is a complex consumer market with a variety of religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Consumer behaviour, expectation and product preferences range across China’s many regions.

China is a complex consumer market with a variety of religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Consumer behaviour, expectation and product preferences range across China’s many regions.
Whilst there are hundreds of millions of English ‘learners’ in China, a very small proportion of the population would be confident enough to make an online transaction in English. Adding to the complication, ‘Chinese’ is, of course, not a single language.

Chinese shoppers often desire prices displayed concurrently in Yuan and the local currency of the retailer; 58% of consumers surveyed reported this preference.

A retailer targeting Chinese consumers should display its security measures clearly as Chinese shoppers are highly security-conscious; 61% of Chinese shoppers have reported that having visibility of any payment methods accepted on a homepage greatly builds confidence. In any case, Chinese consumers expect to see the payment methods familiar to them.

If consumers are able to transact in Chinese on your website, as is suggested, then customer service should also be localised – both in language and location. Specific consideration should also be given to time zones.



Due to high consumer use and penetration, Chinese companies are ahead of the curve when it comes to optimising for mobile and many have ‘well-defined’ mobile strategies.

Over a quarter (27%) of e-commerce revenue in China is transacted directly on mobile devices, and mobile accounts for over a third (39%) of Chinese companies’ web traffic; Chinese companies are structuring their mobile strategies accordingly.

72% of Chinese organisations surveyed claimed that mobile will be given increased emphasis as a part of their overall marketing strategy during 2015, with a large proportion of respondents (59%) reporting having separate mobile budgets and increasing future mobile spend. Currently these companies spend nearly a third (28%) of their overall marketing budgets on mobile.

Mobile-optimised websites (58%) are most commonly used by companies in China, followed by mobile apps (56%). Mobile-optimised emails are less popular, with only 12% of respondents making use of this strategy.


  • Young, urban and mobile. ½ of all Chinese e-shoppers are currently aged 24 – 30 and the majority come from China’s largest economic centres.
  • Changing demographic trends with a growing middle class and a rapidly aging population: China’s middle class is expected to reach 630 million by 2022, and at the end of 2014 China’s elderly comprised 14% of its population. This figure is expected to grow to 25% by 2030.
  • Conservative spenders who carefully budget and don’t tend to impulse-shop; only 28% of Chinese shoppers surveyed admit to regularly making purchases on a whim.
  • Chinese shoppers are willing to spend time and trouble researching purchases and comparing prices, and are always on the lookout for a bargain.
  • Chinese shoppers, will, however will pay out for premium goods.
  • E-shopping in China is viewed as a form of entertainment for the entire family.
  • Most customers currently prefer to purchase cheap goods via online shopping, but this trend is expected to change in the near future.
  • Disloyal consumers; only 46% of Chinese consumers say they stick with a particular brand (compared with 71% in the US). Their main focus is the value of the product itself.
  • Avid online shoppers: Chinese consumers purchase items online 4 x more frequently than Europeans, and 2 x more frequently than customers in the US and Britain.


The Chinese New Year, which falls in January or February each year, is on par with Christmas in the West.

Single’s Day (November the 11th) is currently not only the largest online shopping day in China, but in the world.

On the average day, online shopping peaks between 9pm and 12am.




China is the world’s most active social media market, though those who are connected largely have a different experience from users in the West. Sites like Twitter and Faceboook have been blocked or severly restricted.


Remember – only a small proportion of Chinese e-retail sales currently occur via direct transactions between consumers and retailers on a retailers’ own webpage. Instead, most occur on digital marketplaces, as these are the quickest way to sell online to Chinese customers.

Percentage Market Share of the Most Popular Marketplaces

Other areas of interest

Meeting your regulatory responsibilities

How you decide to enter the Chinese market can determine the legislation and tax applicable to you.

Receiving payment from your customers

Cash on delivery is still regarded as a must-have option when selling to Chinese consumers.

Getting The Goods to Your Customers

E-retailers will encounter hurdles such as China’s relatively under-developed delivery infrastructure.

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