SHANGHAI — Chinese consumers spend almost no time on the official e-commerce sites of brands, instead seeking product information on social media platforms and spending a disproportionate amount of time on five of the country’s dominant Web sites, according to a study on e-commerce shopping habits released by the Boston Consulting Group.
The survey found that, in contrast to other nationalities, Chinese tend to spend roughly 0.5 percent of their time online on official brand Web sites and typically trust product information from official sources far less than recommendations from friends, information found on popular social media platforms such as Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, and reviews from consumers posted online. More than 40 percent of the online activities of those surveyed were spent on five sites, including Youku.com, an online video portal; Sina.com, an online news site; QQ, an instant messaging service; Taobao.com, the consumer-to-consumer e-commerce platform owned by Alibaba, and the search engine Baidu.
It is “critical for brands to identify the most relevant parts of those popular sites for reaching shoppers,” said the BCG study, titled “The Chinese Digital Consumer in a Multichannel World.”
Education about products and brands is one of the main online activities. Ninety percent of product-related online activity was conducted for the purpose of education and did not necessarily result in a purchase online, the study said. While the Sina Weibo microblog has become a dominant medium for brands to communicate with consumers, those in the BCG survey said they only paid attention to promotional material on an official brand account rather than product information. Instead, microblog accounts of celebrities, famous bloggers and other key opinion leaders, or KOLs, garnered more attention. Followers “seek to learn information and read the opinions of their favorite celebrities,” the study said, adding that KOLs tend to shy away from direct promotional material for products.
Another key finding of the study is the growing importance of a multichannel effort to reach consumers, who are increasingly using mobile platforms for product information as well as transactions. According to Waldemar Jap, an author of the study and a Hong-Kong-based partner with BCG, the lines between online and offline are becoming increasingly blurred in China. Consumers are constantly connected across multiple platforms, whether it be mobile devices or a personal computer, and are using such platforms to engage with brands offline. Capturing consumers on all levels of their digital engagement will become increasingly crucial, Jap said.
“Brands need to think of the multichannel world as the comprehensive way to reach out to consumers in a holistic way to give consumers a consistent experience as well as education and knowledge about the brand,” he said.
Those surveyed spent an average of 82 minutes online each day via mobile or tablet platforms, BCG said. Over 80 percent had used location-based services or scanned shopping related QR codes.
The study found that 60 to 80 percent of Chinese consumers across a diverse range of product categories had no strong preference for making a purchase either online or offline. Additionally, only 2 percent of those surveyed started their online shopping experience looking for a specific brand or product.
It also found that when shopping for apparel online, most consumers searched and purchased in one session. Yet for cosmetics, consumers conduct price comparisons in the offline and online world, yet only purchase online if the price is cheaper. “Companies in such categories benefit from providing more seamless online-offline integration,” the BCG study said.
From overseeing America’s fastest-growing speciality retailers to codifying cool, WWD talked to the women who are leading the way for the future of beauty. Check out our Instagram Stories to see how these women built today and are creating tomorrow. (📸: @hannah_khymych) #wwdbeauty
For @laperlalingerie's spring 2018 show, the brand chose to host their event at @thevenetianmacao. With Chinese megastars @bingbing_fan and @hubing in attendance, La Perla debuted a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired collection. The show marked the start of Sands Macao Fashion Week, which runs from October 19 to 24 — the city’s first such event. Pictured here are models backstage with glimmering eyes. #wwdfashion (📷: Cheuk-Yin To)
Trending for spring 2018: top stitch design. Gone are the days of stitch just for seams — designers are using the once-minimal detail to create strong decorative elements. (📷: Paola Testa; Styled by @andrew_shang) #wwdfashion
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)