December 29, 2023
BEIJING – Report: New product categories shine as consumer choices evolve abroad
Niche sports products, intelligent hardware, smart home devices and customized small machinery equipment made by Chinese manufacturers are becoming popular among overseas consumers, whose demand for personalized commodities is rising, said a new report released by Alibaba.com, Chinese tech heavyweight Alibaba Group’s business-to-business platform that helps facilitate foreign trade, on Wednesday.
The turnover of pickleball paddles surged 209 percent year-on-year in November, while baseball- and badminton-related products, and camping, hiking and other outdoor sports commodities have seen booming sales on the online marketplace, according to Alibaba.com.
Pickleball is a trendy, fast-growing sport that has enjoyed soaring popularity in the United States in recent years.
Alibaba.com said artificial intelligence technology has accelerated the popularization of intelligent hardware, with overseas consumers increasingly favoring consumer electronics products and small household appliances with innovative intelligent technologies.
Sales of wearable devices, virtual reality glasses and smart speakers rose more than 30 percent year-on-year in November, it said.
Overseas pet owners are willing to pay more for premium products, as the transaction volume of cat litter boxes and pet feeders jumped 102 percent and 128 percent year-on-year, respectively.
Small machinery equipment like laser engraving machines, laser printers and multifunction packaging machines that can meet the personalized demand of overseas Generation Z consumers (those born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s) have seen robust growth, the report noted.
Environmentally friendly products are increasingly favored by overseas shoppers. For instance, sales of straw tote bags and knitted fabrics made of organic cotton with antibacterial function increased 78 percent and 49 percent year-on-year, respectively.
Qin Fen, who is in charge of industries and merchant business at Alibaba.com, said the new wave of AI should encourage small and medium-sized Chinese manufacturers to improve their AI and digital capabilities to offer tailor-made products and satisfy wide-ranging demands overseas.
Cui Lili, director of the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics’ Institute of E-commerce, said the popularity of made-in-China products in overseas markets shows these cost-effective commodities have gained wide recognition and burnished the image of Chinese brands abroad in recent years.
Fresh growth opportunities are emerging, Cui said, adding Chinese enterprises should make full use of cross-border e-commerce platforms to quickly meet demand from overseas markets, learn more about relevant laws, regulations and quality standards of other countries, and adjust supply chains to make products that meet local requirements.
China’s cross-border e-commerce sector has seen robust growth in recent years. The import and export scale of the country’s cross-border e-commerce reached 1.7 trillion yuan ($237.8 billion) in the first three quarters, up 14.4 percent year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
As a new form of foreign trade, cross-border e-commerce has become an important driving force for bolstering the growth of China’s foreign trade, said Zhang Zhouping, a senior analyst of B2B and cross-border activities at the Internet Economy Institute, a domestic consultancy.
An increasing number of Chinese merchants now sell their products to overseas markets via cross-border e-commerce platforms, which provide a new way for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to expand their global footprint and build up new brands, Zhang said.
Overseas consumers have gradually boosted their awareness of, and trust in, Chinese companies and products, and maintain a favorable attitude toward Chinese brands, according to a white paper released by online media outlets Sina News and Huanqiu.com.