China has long been the world’s top exporting country, but should footwear companies start viewing the country as a target market for sales as well? The rise of Chinese cities and the China mall boom certainly make a case for the world’s fastest-growing major economy’s potential as an importer.
In their presentation at the American Apparel & Footwear Association’s Executive Summit in Washington, D.C., last week, Erin Ennis, VP of the U.S.-China Business Council, and Deborah Weinswig, executive director and head of global retail intelligence at Fung Business Intelligence Centre, said the rise of households with middle class income and consumer demand for “lifestyle shopping” make China a prime market for American companies looking to sell globally.
“China is the world’s largest online market,” said Weinswig, adding that robust e-commerce growth, a swelling online population and mobile shopping have lent support to e-commerce platforms.
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With hundreds of malls opening in China each year, brick-and-mortar options are plentiful, too, according to Weinswig and Ennis. Malls are favored by real estate developers, and kid-friendly play areas drive traffic into these expansive multi-tenant spaces.
What factors should American companies consider when thinking of selling in China?
FN recaps some of the top trends for retail and apparel in China for 2015 from Weinswig and Ennis’ presentation:
• Consumer market will see steady growth
• Institutional reform of distribution sector will be better regulated
• Online to offline competition will intensify
• Wholesale markets will undergo transformation and an upgrade
• Luxury market will slow while “affordable luxury” will gain
• Department stores and large supermarkets face revamp as focus shifts to community stores
• Innovation will drive operational transformation
• A new era of consumerism is dawning