How to Sell in China: The Chinese Consumer Journey from Discovery to Purchase

E-commerce players optimize their platforms for customer engagement, blurring the lines between entertainment and e-commerce as well as between online and offline commerce. Shopping is a social experience, not a solitary one.

Search Versus Highly Personalized Discovery

Instead of searching for specific items online in the pre-purchase phase, Chinese consumers embark on a journey of exploration and discovery — as if they are going to the mall with friends or family. Chinese consumers go online to see what’s new or what’s trending, sometimes many times a day.

The path from discovery to purchase is seamless. These instant “buy what you see” opportunities take product placement and ease of purchasing to the next level — one not yet seen in Western markets.

Myriad Ways to Discover

  • P&G and Memebox offer video tutorials using well-known makeup artists. For a generation of only children who don’t have a big sister to go to for advice, tutorials such as these fill an important need.
  • Baby Tree embeds purchase links to featured products in its content that focuses on baby advice and motherhood. An educational portal and growing e-commerce site that has an online community of 30 million users, Baby Tree enables brand and merchant partners to leverage its user base.
  • T-mall offers buyers a “digital mirror” app for their smartphones. The mirror lets online shoppers virtually apply as many as 2,000 makeup shades from well-known brands, such as L’Oréal and Bobbi Brown. Users can take selfies, share the photos with friends, and buy products directly from the app.

The Next Big Things in Consumer Discovery


Building a Discovery-Driven Consumer Journey

How can we use online content to build our brands?

How can we develop a social commerce business?

How do I find the best KOL for my campaign in China?



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