Data from JD, a prominent e-commerce giant, revealed that within the first 10 minutes of the final promotion that commenced at 8 pm on Saturday, the transaction volume of 325 brands on JD Worldwide, its cross-border platform, soared over 100 percent compared to the previous year. During this brief period, sales of products in JD’s virtual national pavilions, encompassing overseas brands from over 90 countries, skyrocketed by a staggering 368 percent year-on-year.
JD reported a surge of 360 percent in imported sunscreen sales, a 170 percent increase in luxury watch sales, and a 200 percent jump in infant formula milk sales compared to the previous year. Tmall Global, the cross-border e-commerce site operated by Alibaba Group, witnessed the turnover of 419 new foreign brands doubling within the first four hours of its promotional campaign. More than 40,000 overseas brands participated in this year’s June 18 shopping promotion.
The shopping extravaganza, which now spans approximately three weeks, saw a remarkable growth in foreign brands of skincare products, surfboards, cycling equipment, wine sets, and healthcare goods.
Zhang Zhouping, a senior analyst at the Internet Economy Institute, a domestic consultancy, highlighted that Chinese consumers’ growing demand for diversified, personalized, and niche overseas products reflects their inclination towards new lifestyles and a heightened focus on product value. Zhang emphasized the crucial role of cross-border e-commerce in enriching product supply, fostering new business models, and revitalizing consumption. He called for further optimization of the list of imported retail goods for cross-border online purchases.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, China’s imports of consumer goods reached 1.93 trillion yuan ($269.6 billion) in 2022, accounting for 11 percent of total imports and more than doubling the amount in 2012.
A report from JD’s Consumption and Industry Development Research Institute indicated that sales of imported products on JD’s online marketplaces surged by 50 percent between January and May, compared to the same period in 2020, with imported product categories experiencing a remarkable 114 percent growth.
Among imported products, personal care, cosmetics, skincare items, food and beverages, and maternity and infant products were the most favored categories among Chinese consumers. The report highlighted that individuals aged 26 to 35 accounted for 45 percent of buyers, while consumers between 46 and 55 years old contributed to the fastest growth in purchases of imported goods.
Although residents of first-tier cities continued to be the primary purchasers of imported products, consumers in lower-tier markets demonstrated an increasing interest in such commodities. Pan Helin, co-director of the Digital Economy and Financial Innovation Research Center at Zhejiang University’s International Business School, underscored the significance of lower-tier markets as a driving force behind the continued growth of new consumers and increased purchases of imported goods. Pan emphasized the need to fully leverage the consumption potential and enhance channels and services in lower-tier cities and rural areas to fuel consumption recovery in China.
Zhang Tianbing, head of Deloitte Asia-Pacific consumer products and retail industry, noted that China, with its expanding domestic demand and advancements in emerging retail technologies, has implemented favorable policies, including reducing import taxes and broadening the range of allowable imported goods.
Zhang further attributed the surge in cross-border e-commerce purchases by domestic consumers to the popularity of celebrity livestreaming. Overseas brands have turned to cross-border e-commerce platforms to expand their distribution channels in response to the COVID-19 disruptions to offline retail.
The strong demand exhibited by Chinese consumers for imported goods during the June 18 shopping carnival underscores their evolving preferences for high-quality, niche products from abroad. Cross-border e-commerce continues to play a crucial role in meeting this demand, stimulating consumption, and promoting the recovery of the Chinese economy.