China became the world’s largest retail market in 2016 with a growing middle class of over 300 million. Forecasts predict continued growth as rising incomes and urbanization boost China’s food consumption and demand for agriculture products from international markets. For U.S. rural entrepreneurs, this could mean a new audience for their products.
At Alibaba, we offer an online e-commerce platform where consumers can purchase goods from across the globe. We see a great opportunity for U.S. entrepreneurs to provide products for Chinese consumers. Here are four things you may not know about Chinese consumers and their preferences.
- They are young. The country’s up-and-coming crop of college-educated shoppers under the age of 35 is sophisticated and brand conscious in ways the previous generation was not. Their consumption is growing at 14 percent annually, double that of consumers over 35, and they spend more than their elders—as much as 40 percent more in many product categories.
- They are health conscious. Chinese consumers are becoming more interested in exercise and healthy foods. They are willing to pay a premium for imported agricultural products and value-added products like nuts, fruit, and wine.
- They are quality-focused. Chinese consumers are interested in buying healthy baby formula and kid-centric food products with quality ingredients, and they have a strong preference for Western brands.
- They like to shop online. Over 500 million Chinese consumers engage in e-commerce on Alibaba’s platforms and that number continues to rise. Chinese consumers are tech-savvy and very comfortable making purchases online.
Tmall, Alibaba’s e-commerce business to consumer platform which reaches approximately 500 million shoppers, has already teamed up with many U.S. agriculture and food organizations to access this growing Chinese consumer including:
- Northwest Cherry Growers
- The Washington Apple Commission
- Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute
- U.S. Meat Export Federation
- American Pistachio Growers
- The Wine Institute of California
You can learn more about the China opportunity for US agriculture by attending Alibaba’s Gateway ’17 conference in Detroit on June 20-21. We expect over 2,000 brands, small businesses, farmers, and entrepreneurs to be in attendance. Attendees will hear keynote speeches from our executive chairman, Jack Ma, and other leading entrepreneurs to learn how you can help grow your businesses by tapping into the e-commerce enabled Chinese market. We’ll also have category breakout sessions (including for fresh food and packaged goods), business solutions sessions, marketplace networking, and matchmaking opportunities.
Use the special “MIAG” code to receive 50% off of the registration price. To learn more about Gateway ’17 and register check out the gateway website.
Eric Pelletier is the Vice President, Head of International Government Relations at Alibaba Group.