Foreign businesses share tips on getting Chinese customers at 1st CIIE

China Plus Published: 2018-11-08 10:40:52
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At the first China International Import Expo, President Xi Jinping reiterated the country's commitment to open its market to all countries. With the door to its domestic market now opened wider, it is up to individual business owners to compete for a share.

A model of Rolls-Royce Trent XWB -84 engine is displayed during the 12th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, also known as Airshow China 2018, Tuesday Nov. 6, 2018. [Photo: IC]

A model of Rolls-Royce Trent XWB -84 engine is displayed during the 12th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, also known as Airshow China 2018, Tuesday Nov. 6, 2018. [Photo: IC]

In one of the largest deals signed in the aviation sector during the import expo, China Eastern Airlines signed an agreement with Rolls-Royce worth 1.44 billion U.S. dollars for the company's Trent XWB engines and long-term maintenance services.

Enterprises in China have never been stingy about their overseas procurement, but as the domestic market opens wider to imported products and services, it's China's average consumers that stand to benefit from a continuing expansion in international trade.

This helps to explain why food and agricultural products are some of the most popular products on offer at the import expo, as visitors flock to the booths offering an array of tasty samples.

But despite the growing love of Chinese consumers for imported products, exporters selling to China can't afford to take them for granted, as there's still an uphill battle to foster a loyal following.

Rodica Gurgu, the export manager for the boutique Spanish winery Vallegarcia, said that her company spent a long time educating its customers about their products before they reached the point where they could sell 30,000 bottles a year in China.

"We started first explaining what the wine is, how we make the wine, and then we teach them how to taste the wine, how they use all their feelings to taste the wine. This was our job on (in) the past 12 years, from a city to another city with a bottle in the hand, explaining to the people how to taste the wine."

The seafood processor and distributor Blamar, which is based in Iceland, is a relatively new entrant to China's market. About two and a half years ago, it saw the potential in exporting high-end seafood products into the market. But in order to establish a foothold in the territory, the company first needed to overcome some obstacles. Lori Zeng is in charge of Blamar's business development in China.

"The biggest challenge is the lack of awareness. Salmon seems to be the only type of Nordic seafood commonly known to Chinese consumers, but there are plenty of other nutritious fish that are high in protein and Omega-3. And Chinese people aren't accustomed to frozen seafood. Many of them wonder: why is the fish frozen? Does it really taste as good as fresh fish?"

The company is working on educating its customers by engaging with them on social media and sharing recipes for their products. In time, Lori hopes that imports could transform the market, for the benefit of local consumers.

"By introducing quality seafood to China's market, we are hoping to improve the level of consumption. The quality of products in the market will improve faster when customers set higher demands."

China has been restructuring its economy from being one that is export-oriented to one driven by domestic consumption. In the first three-quarters of 2018, consumption contributed to 78 percent of the country's economic growth.

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