Looking Back at Chinese Market Trends Which Shaped 2018

As 2018 has reached its end, and the year of the pig has officially begun, it is time now to have a look back on what trends have shaped Chinese market over the past year, and thus what its future is. China’s market is evolving fast, with the government actively taking part in driving it as to meet the objectives of the 13th Five-Year-Plan. At the same time, it is important for foreign brands to understand what makes the Middle Kingdom so particular, compared to Western societies.

ASI Solutions has been helping brands exporting to and importing from China for more than 10 years, thus developing a strong knowledge in the field. We make the internationalization of the firms easier, from origin to destination.

Where can foreign brands can find opportunities of development in China? And why is so? These are the questions ASI Solutions will answer in the following article.

Local Consumption

The main driver of China’s economic growth is its domestic consumption. According to EMIS Report, it contributed to 78.5% of the latter.

Why is so?

The government has decided to boost domestic consumption, encouraging retail trade development and, as we will explore in more depth later on, e-commerce in particular. This has been supported by measures such as standardization of the sector, ensuring healthy market operation and protect consumer rights. As China is switching from a manufacturing-based economy to a consumption-driven one, foreign companies are encouraged to take advantage of this new orientation.

Which consumers are the drivers of local consumption?

While big cities such as Shanghai or Beijing have been driving economic development for years, tier-two cities as well as rural areas are the new drivers of growth. The main element fostering this tendency is the development of e-commerce. Thanks to the latter, regions that were isolated now have access to a large panel of goods.


For Chinese consumers, e-commerce is the easiest way access goods (wherever and whenever one wants). As such it fosters higher consumer spendings. It is indeed one of the main elements behind China’s retail sector’s growth.

China is implementing the « New Retail » model or as Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder, puts it:

« E-commerce is rapidly evolving into New Retail. The boundary between offline and online commerce disappears as we focus on fulfilling the personalized needs of each customers. »

To sum it up, e-commerce is becoming more and more consumer-centric where personalization plays a key part.

O2O is gaining weight and is now strongly supported by chain retailers. It combines and offline strategies: online for the marketing and purchasing, offline for the distribution channels such as pick-ups, after-sales services and traditional purchasing. It goes beyond with integrating mobiles into the equation and one can now use the term m-commerce to designate mobile commerce

F&B Sector

Since 2011 China represents world’s greatest food and beverage market. The consumption itself changed as Chinese consumers are now demanding high quality products. Food safety has become one of government’s top priorities and population’s greatest concerns. Even though consumption of foreign food products is not outweighing the one of locals, it is believed that it will be world’s greatest consumer of imported products. The reason is that foreign products are believed to be more qualitative.

China is still a great importer (5th) and consumer (2nd) of Wine. Even though the market is more and more competitive, the demand is there, and indeed increasing.

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This article is based on EMIS Insights - China Consumer Goods and Retail Sector Report 2018