Seven key steps to crack the Chinese market

Seven key steps to crack the Chinese market

Over the last few years China has become a major opportunity for Australian exporters.

With a population of over 1.4 billion, and a burgeoning middle class hungry for high-quality Australian goods, there has never been a better time to tackle the Chinese market.

But while China may seem attractive, it is a very difficult market to crack; red tape and a language barrier stop many Australian businesses in their tracks.

Reach China CEO Dr Mathew McDougall says the region is a significant opportunity for Australian SMEs and one worth exploring.

"We import over $62 billion worth of goods from China and export over $93 billion worth of goods and services to China," says McDougall.

"They are also avid online shoppers and eager to purchase premium quality brands."

"They seek out authentic Australian brands as our products are considered high quality, clean, green and produced in highly regulated environments. Our soils, air and water are seen as pure."

Reach China was established by McDougall in 2017 and focuses on incubating quality Australian brands that have a desire to reach Chinese consumers.

Reach China uses a three-step cross-border methodology to develop brands domestically, then includes cross border ecommerce (CBEC) platforms through to B2B distribution in China.

Within Australia, it has a formed a strategic partnership with Pharmacy Alliance and its network of over 650 independently owned pharmacies across Australia for Slingshot and AmplifyX programs.

McDougall suggests that while the idea of exporting to China may seem daunting, many Australian businesses, from mum and dad operations to larger companies have commenced the journey of exporting to China with great success.

"It is really a matter of preparing well and taking the right steps," says McDougall.

"Regardless of the strategy, the key is to ensure you have a good product to sell There are many Australian businesses with good products that are ideal for export. Hopefully we see more making the move to export. It can be a life-changing experience."

McDougall has put together seven key steps Australian businesses should follow if they want to export to China.

1. Work with an experienced export consultant to help you in your journey. A good export consultant will assist you to work through all steps of the process.

This is essential to ensure you are making the right decisions and doing the right things. This avoids putting money in the wrong places and minimising mistakes

2. Ensure your product is suitable for the Chinese market and that there is a demand for your product.

While this may seem straight forward, China is a big country with different markets. Be clear about what part of the market you are targeting and the potential for sales and growth. The more unique and high quality, the more appealing the product will be

3. Get to know Chinese culture

Get to know the market to which you are seeking to export. Find out what products are doing well and why. Understand their social media platforms such as WeChat and how they engage and shop. A little research goes a long way

4. Grow awareness of your products in the Australian market first to build brand credibility and trust in China

Chinese consumers buy brands based on reputation, trust and credibility. If your brand is known in Australia and has a good reputation, then the Chinese are more likely to buy your product in or from China

5. Build a sound online presence through a good website and social media

Chinese consumers are very internet savvy and research products before they buy. They also rely on reviews. Having a strong online presence ensures your brand is well represented and findable on the internet

6. IP and branding

Protecting your IP is important, not only in Australia but overseas. Ensure your products are clearly branded and IP registered in Australia and that the branding has no conflicts with any existing brands known or registered in China

7. Be patient, flexible and scalable

Many businesses have achieved explosive growth exporting to China, while others have found the journey a bit more slow going. Regardless, it is important to ensure that you are taking the right steps and are prepared for growth when it happens.  Sometimes strategies and tactics need to be adjusted and this is normal, the key is to be patient and committed and be ready when things do shift quickly

The key areas of export opportunity for Australian small businesses include:

  • Skincare products with multi functions such as moisturising, whitening and anti-ageing
  • Complimentary medicines, health and wellbeing products
  • Maternity, baby care products and baby food
  • Men's care
  • Make up, colour cosmetics and hair care
  • Clothing, footwear and jewellery with unique and modern designs (diamond, Pentium gold, pearl, etc.)
  • Milk powders (including infant formula and adult milk powder), UHT and pasteurised milk, yoghurt, cheese and butter
  • Seafood (particularly saltwater shell fish such as oysters, crabs, lobster and abalone)
  • Fresh fruits (citrus, table grapes, cherries and mangoes) and natural fruit juice
  • Oats and other breakfast cereals
  • Chilled, frozen beef and processed foods
  • Wine and craft beer

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