Consumer retail culture and implications for product discovery
Chinese consumers have embraced eCommerce for its immersive experience; this is particularly apparent when we look at live-streaming. Employing a range of rewards, discount battles and games, live-stream represents > 9% of online sales in China and continues to grow, fuelled by the popularity of super hosts such as Viya and Lijiaqi.
Across other international markets, the growth of eCommerce – at least initially – was driven in part by convenience. In 2016 – pre-pandemic – over 50% of US shoppers began their product searches on Amazon. The pandemic-fuelled acceleration of e-commerce has simply served as a catalyst for behavioral change already in motion.
"In applying a ‘convenience-first’ mindset modelled on Amazon, international brands often overlook the social and interactive shopping experiences Chinese customers rely on to inform decision-making"
The different values ascribed to eCommerce between East and West have significant implications for business, particularly around product discovery. In applying a ‘convenience-first’ mindset modelled on Amazon, international brands often overlook the social and interactive shopping experiences Chinese customers rely on to inform decision-making.
Chinese marketplaces and social apps alike battle openly to bridge the product discovery gap; both sides attempting to merge the social interactive with eCommerce. Douyin (TikTok in China) recently integrated an e-commerce function allowing its users to make purchases direct from video.
Experiential eCommerce is nascent (but growing) in European and US markets, but don’t be deceived – in China, it is expected.