6 Top Strategies to Sell Fashion Apparel in China

In 2024, China is among the top worldwide markets for fashion apparel .

Especially on e-commerce, the Chinese market is reaching more than the Europe and US combined in terms of apparel sales online. The potential is great if you know how to sell to your Chinese audience. How can they reach out to you? How can they discover and actually purchase your brand?

Fashion Sales are Booming in China

Since 2022, sales of clothing (especially womenswear) and footwear have increased significantly. Compared to men, women are gradually consuming more. Women’s apparel sales are the number one category in terms of market share, with the women’s apparel category alone accounting for 48% of the share.

As a result, women’s apparel has outpaced men’s apparel in terms of value growth and total sales value.
Today, fashion and apparel retailers should take advantage of the strong demand for high-quality foreign products in order to grow in China’s fast-growing e-commerce market. China’s position as the world’s largest market gives apparel retailers access to tech-savvy consumers who are increasingly eager to purchase products through cross-border e-commerce. The sales of sportswear are steadily growing as consumers now have a strong interest in a healthy and wellness lifestyle.

In addition, consulting firm A.T. Kearney notes that Chinese consumers are 97% and 87% receptive to cross-border e-commerce compared to US consumers, respectively. By 2022, China’s e-commerce market will reach US$1.8 trillion, a market that will be more than twice the size of the US at US$713 billion and 10 times the size of Japan at US$159 billion.

PlatformKey Data Points
TmallTmall continues to be a major player in luxury e-commerce, having spun off from Taobao to focus on higher-end brands. The platform consistently leads in B2C e-commerce market share in China​
DouyinDouyin has shown substantial growth in e-commerce, with its GMV soaring by 629.9% year-on-year during Double 11 events. It is a significant platform for livestream sales, reaching up to CNY1.2 billion for top livestreamers​ (Jing Daily)
JDJD.com remains a strong competitor in the luxury sector and broader e-commerce market. It has reported substantial sales growth, especially during peak shopping periods like Double 11​ (Yicai Global)​.

These platforms are integral to China’s e-commerce landscape, each catering to specific market segments and consumer behaviors. Tmall focuses on luxury and high-end brands, Douyin leverages its massive reach through live streaming, and JD.com competes strongly in a broad range of categories including luxury goods. The competition and growth in these platforms underline the dynamic nature of the Chinese e-commerce market, especially in fashion sales.

The best example is the French multi-channel retailer well known as La Redoute was founded by Joseph Pollet in 1837. French retailer brand is specialized in fashion apparel and home decoration. Remarkably that its e-commerce website has more than 7 million unique visitors each month. La Redoute has more than 10 million active users and it operates in 26 countries around the world.

In order to serve Chinese online shoppers a Chinese e-commerce website including seasonal campaigns for desktop and mobile was created by La Redoute. For the purpose of increasing the brand’s awareness, La Redoute created accounts on WeChat and Weibo, which are the most popular digital marketing platforms in China. Today, the number of followers of La Redoute on Weibo is exceeding 210K despite recent activations.

Hence, integrated loyalty programs, online ad campaigns, and digital coupons were included in Chinese mobile marketing campaigns. Due to an average basket value of $79, a 7- to 10-day logistics turnaround time, and an improved ability to avoid out-of-stocks for best-selling products, La Redoute’s e-commerce strategy resulted in an increase in sales in China.

Hence, 6 tips for you in order to help your retail brand to succeed in China

1. Focus on High-Quality Products

In order to gain the trust of Chinese consumers, you should work on creating strategic content, which means that your products should represent high-quality status symbols. One of the great advantages is that byword for quality in China is usually perceived as ‘international’ products, due to that fact establishing your own business as a quality foreign brand can allow you to get paid dividends in the long run.

Many international brands enter the Chinese market thinking it will be “easy” to sell. But what many brands forget is that China is the most competitive market of the world. Here, you will face 7 times more competition than anywhere else in the world. Based on the wide offering Chinese consumers can have, they will be more exigent on the quality and the customer service. Then, you need to focus on high-quality products with high-end materials and production.

2. Increase your Brand’s Social and Digital Awareness

Digital media cannot be ignored and it is important to have a clear understanding of how your decisions on market positioning are influenced by the relevant communities and consumer behavior on Chinese platforms.

When it comes to the big western companies such as Facebook, Youtube, Google, and Twitter, you should forget about it because China has WeChat, Xiaohongshu, Baidu, and Weibo instead of them. Also, it should be mentioned that in China there is Tmall and Taobao, not Amazon. In order to approach this whole new set of platforms, you should take into account China’s particular way of communicating, content, and engagement in Mandarin.

1. WeChat – The Most Used Social Media

WeChat has 877 million daily active users, which means that it is a great tool to enter the Chinese market and, of course, it is a strong launch pad for quality content. In order to engage with your target consumers, it is important to have a presence here as WeChat is the number one social platform in China. One of the WeChat shops is the ‘static’ shop that can be linked to your account for promotions and it becomes a brilliant tool for sales. WeChat connects online retail with social communication in new, interesting, and innovative ways.

For example, the high-profile Givenchy partnership with Mr. Bag, which sold Givenchy bags for over US$100,000 in 10 minutes through its ‘flash sale’, made the WeChat shop very famous. The simple fact that WeChat does not require a huge initial investment to build and start driving qualified traffic that translates into sales makes the app a great and effective tool for targeting Chinese consumers.

2. Xiaohongshu – The Social Media to Emerge from the Crowd

Relevant statistics show that in the Top 5 list of cross-border e-commerce apps in June 2017, “Xiaohongshu” ranked first with a monthly active user size of 12 million, with a 31.08% increase in active users year-on-year. Since its inception in June 2013, Xiaohongshu has started as an overseas shopping guide to a vertical community-sharing application, and later the introduction and development of e-commerce, Xiaohongshu is developing rapidly!

The greatest strength of Xiaohongshu is its keen insight into the market, and its ability to optimize its business model, business, etc. in a timely and rapid manner to achieve maximum profitability according to changes in the market environment. Young user group and large base The users of the Xiaohongshu platform are mainly young people such as post-90s and post-00s, who are ahead of their time in terms of ideology, easily accept new things and have a strong desire to consume, which stimulates consumption to some extent. In 2022, the official statistics of Xiaohongshu show that the monthly active users reach 150 million.

3. Importance of Branding for Your Brand

Chinese consumers buy being obsessed with branding, they purchase brands but not products. Chinese society is more likely fixed on reputation or let’s say the notion of “face”, due to that issue it is clear to understand that in order to express their “face” the most typical way of it is purchasing brands. In society, which is definitely led by consumer needs, when it comes to branding you need to consider this individual expression’s newfound desire.

One of the great advantages is that byword for quality in China is usually perceived as ‘international’ products, due to that fact establishing your own business as a quality foreign brand can allow you to get paid dividends in the long run.

  • The main mistake of international brands in China today is to localize their brand too much.
  • Having Chinese models and items is a great way to engage with the local culture
  • You should highlight your unique culture and country of origin to seduce Chinese fashion shoppers.

4. KOLs are Important to Increase Your Brand’s Promotion

It is vital to keep your consumers entertained with live videos, to always be creative when running various campaigns, and to engage key opinion leaders (KOLs). When it comes to KOLs, they have already gathered a large following around themselves. In addition, companies or brands can recruit them because they have a great deal of influence. Different KOLs can target specific communities and demographics by providing high-quality targeted exposure.

It should be clear that when considering investing in Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), you need to choose Chinese influencers as they can directly connect your brand with your target audience.

The main point relating to KOLs is that the best approach, in this case, is that they should create an ‘echo chamber effect by using a number of different platforms at the same time to post messages about the brand. This effect will support the legitimacy of the brand if there are many influential people posting.

For example, the French luxury brand Dior officially announced actress Angelababy as its first face in China, aiming to attract more young consumers. And the announcement was made via Dior’s official Weibo account, which set a new high for the brand’s single Weibo retweet. As the pace of the fashion industry continues to accelerate, more and more luxury brands have come to realize that being able to use celebrities and fashionistas to turn fans into consumers on social media is the key. Angelababy is one of the most popular ‘post-90s’ actresses in China, with more than 81 million followers on Weibo, and her social influence cannot be underestimated. Angelababy has been working with Dior for a long time, and in addition to being invited to the Dior fashion show every year, her wedding dress is also from Dior Haute Couture.

5. Douyin (Tiktok)

Selling a fashion brand on Douyin, China’s dynamic social media and e-commerce platform, requires blending creative marketing with strategic execution. Here are five fashionable tips to make your brand as trendsetting on Douyin as the styles you sell:

  1. Showcase with Style: Live to Stream, Dream to Sell
    • Live Streaming: Utilize Douyin’s live streaming features to showcase your products in action. Live sessions allow for real-time engagement and are perfect for product launches, fashion shows, or interactive Q&A sessions. Engage directly with your audience to build excitement and trust.
  2. Dress Your Content to Impress: Short Videos, Long Impact
    • Short Video Campaigns: Create visually appealing short videos that highlight the unique aspects of your brand. Videos showcasing the latest trends, how-to-style guides, or behind-the-scenes peeks can captivate users. Keep the content fresh and updated to maintain interest.
  3. Accessorize with Influencers: KOLs Wear It Best
    • Collaborate with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs): Partner with fashion influencers on Douyin who resonate with your brand identity. These collaborations can dramatically increase your reach and credibility, as KOLs can sway fashion trends and consumer purchases significantly.
  4. Seamlessly Tailored In-App Shopping: From View to Buy
    • Integrated E-Commerce Features: Make use of Douyin’s built-in e-commerce functionalities to enable direct purchases. Set up an in-app store or use product tags in videos to link directly to purchasing pages, providing a seamless shopping experience right from the app.
  5. Stitch Engagement with Interaction: Comments are the New Compliments
    • Engage Actively with Your Audience: Respond to comments, host giveaways, and create interactive content like polls or “choose your style” challenges. Engagement can build a community around your brand and turn viewers into loyal customers.

6. Build Your Reputation

In China, you need to start building your reputation for the simple reason that English content and positive comments on Western media platforms are not seen on the Chinese web. The vast majority of internet research is in Mandarin (over 97.5%).

Reputation is also important both online and offline. Online is what people learn about you through the internet, which may be positive or negative, and this greatly influences people’s judgment. Offline reputation is also important, after all, word of mouth is also an important way of spreading the word.
Remember, the Chinese web is a unique ecosystem that requires a fresh and creative approach and the right Chinese platform should be chosen to build your visibility and reputation to target your consumers.

Leverage Local Platforms like Baidu and Zhihu

Baidu, which is similar to Google with its interface, in China has 75% of online research.  Since it is a very useful portal in China, a quality site, landing page, content & third-party references appearing on the search based on Mandarin Character Keywords need to be established in order to make businesses visible. The quality traffic can be benefited from the combination of Pay Per Click Ads & SEO.

baidu seo jean-rousseau

Forums are very important and popular in China, even though being in many parts of the world the Chinese are still highly active and engaged in community threads about many topics. Reasonable to mention that developing a positive reputation on sites such as Tieba, Zhidao & Zhihu (Q&A Forums) is highly recommended and very important, since Chinese consumers discuss, share information, leave reviews and offer recommendations. While Zhidao & Zhihu are more traditional Q&A forums, instead Baidu Tieba focuses on a top-ranking system where content is upvoted (akin to Reddit). It is also very helpful in terms of visibility on search engines such as Baidu. Additionally, relating to forums its relevant content needs to be closely monitored and any potentially negative comments removed, due to the simple reason that forums rank highly in search results.

In order to promote your brand and if you have any questions related to digital marketing, contact us now!

We are Gentlemen Marketing Agency (GMA) and we are located in Shanghai, China. Over the past 10 years, we worked on 1,000+ projects with brands located in more than 50 countries. If you want to enter the Chinese market or establish your brand there, we can help increase your brand awareness through marketing, online reputation, and e-commerce.

If you have a question related to the Chinese market or a specific project in mind, you can contact us

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