Westwin Releases 2020 China Cross-Border Consumer Report

Westwin, a tech-driven cross-border marketing company, unveils its “2020 China Cross-border Consumer Report”. The report portrays seven distinct cross-border consumers groups across four major categories, including eCommerce, travel, education, and real estate.

The results are distilled from a sea of information gathered from 300 surveys with consumers in Chinese cities ranging from first to fourth tier, and in-depth interviews with 21 consumers from varied segments.

A glimpse of cross-border consumption

The market scale of cross-border eCommerce in China has grown steadily from 2018 to 2020. In 2019, the market was valued at 415.5 billion yuan ($60.5 billion). Sales in Q1 2020 declined due to the pandemic; however, they remained stronger than 2018 Q1. The report also indicates that the epidemic boosts online shopping revenues.

The report found that the effect on skincare and makeup products has become polarized, since staying at home & wearing masks means no need for lipstick. Yet, wearing masks for too long can cause acne or oily skin.

In 2019 the number of outbound travelers amounted to 155 million while travelers from tier 3 & 4 cities continue to grow 160% yearly. In 2020, cross-border tourism was hit hard due to COVID-19; however, the intention to travel remains strong, 45% are willing to travel abroad when COVID-19 is over.

China cross-border consumer insights

Among consumers interviewed, 20.7% made cross-border purchases more than 20 times in the past year, while 15% spent over 20,000 yuan ($2,914) in 2019.

Cross-border eCommerce consumers prefer their online shopping platforms to offer a wide range of categories, with Tmall International, JD Worldwide and Amazon being the top three options. Cosmetics, electronic goods, as well as apparel and handbags, represent the three most popular categories.

To get cross-border products information and connect, 55.3% of consumers say they use WeChat the most, followed by Douyin (49.7%), the Chinese version of Tiktok, and Sina Weibo (39.3%).

Typical cross-border consumers profiles

“Small town moms” refer to young ladies living in 3rd and 4th tier cities. Usually, their parents purchase houses & cars; even if their salary is not high, disposable income is considerable. They love to post every large purchase on WeChat moments to promote a luxury lifestyle. These young ladies also tend to follow trends and appreciate the opinion of friends and influencers.

“Big city single ladies” live in tier 1&2 cities. They typically have a promising career, are financially independent and well educated. They believe that clothing choices reflect attitudes, therefore refuse to wear the same outfit as someone else. They significantly prefer overseas niche brands.

“Millionaires” are polarized, some of them enjoy their lives; others have no life, but anxiety. This group rarely do cross-border purchasing themselves, but heavily rely on their wives. They have a low shopping desire but are keen to invest in overseas real estate to hedge risks.

“Millionaires’ wives” are ladies from high-income families. Most of them are well-educated and have studied overseas. They mentioned they do not care about their child’s academic achievements but are eager to send them to overseas summer camps, sport camps and international academic competitions, which add to foreign colleges applications.

Cross-border consumption trend & outlook

The report offers insights and tips based on consumer behavior and the world shaped by the pandemic. It shows that 3rd and 4th -tier cities, as well as rural areas in China, present significant potential for cross-border consumption.

Accounting for 71.4% of the country’s population, consumers from these markets represent 60% of new buyers on the major eCommerce platforms during the Double 11 shopping spree in 2019.

These consumers are also more price sensitive. Companies can offer more discounts and promotional events online working with eCommerce platforms and video-sharing platforms to attract this segment of consumers.

The pandemic-induced live streaming boom is also relevant to the business world. Brick-and-mortar stores can create a tour or other shopping experience through live streaming. The show business can appeal to home-struck consumers with online concerts, theatre shows and even museum tours.

According to the report, niche segments defined by hobbies and personal tastes are playing an even more vital role in shaping consumer behavior. Companies should customize their online offerings to appeal to a group of spenders with varied preference and habits.


About Westwin

Westwin provides cross-border marketing strategies and solutions to help your business in China.

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