International Marketing News: Reshoring, Alibaba, Wellness in China

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ClickThrough's Head of International, Alison Humphries brings together the international marketing news that matters this week; from protectionism in the face of COVID-19 and reshoring, to Alibaba's package of Coronavirus support and China's explosion of interest in wellness.


International Marketing News: Reshoring, Alibaba, Wellness in China

What's new, important and interesting in international marketing? This week we look at the growth in mobile messaging in the US, and the threat to China's economy, both changes prompted by the pandemic.


Times likely to stay tough for Chinese firms as a result of COVID-19


Jing have reported that the Chinese economy had its lowest growth in 20 years at 6.1%. Chinese companies are naturally looking to diversify their risk through export.

The US is looking set to be the most attractive prospective export market despite current trade tensions,  resulting from a recent increase in negative news stories about China. Asian markets and Australia are also looking to be attractive options

Emerging markets like Africa and Southeast Asia are welcoming foreign direct investment from China. However, trust in China is declining in developed countries like the UK and US due to criticism of Chinese policies and could be set to widen further.

Chinese businesses are perceived to lack transparency in employee treatment and community engagement. However, COVID-19 may slow this trend, as PLCs have been driven to provide more transparency and could therefore could gain a higher level of trust, if they maintain transparency with their communications in the future to have greater export success.

Chinese companies struggling in their domestic markets need to carry out thorough research into their best export opportunities and evaluate how they can improve their communication strategies to deliver a higher level of transparency to export markets.


Alibaba continues to support the digital economy in the face of COVID-19


Alibaba has outlined how they have supported consumers, partners and merchants in looking to begin recovery from the pandemic, according to Alizila.

Contributions in the form of donations, subsidiaries and technical support total approximately RMB 3.4 million. Key elements of the support package include:

  • Free access to Taobao Live (Alibaba’s live streaming channel) for farmers plus a support fund of over $144 million
  • Low interest loans and technical support for China’s small businesses
  • Training for over 3 million people in the service sector to support preparation for digital transformation
  • 6 month waivers on fees, free usage of the online shop setup tool, reduction/exemption of warehouse rent and reduction of logistics costs for Tmall Global’s (Alibaba’s cross border B2C e-commerce channel) merchants
  • Offering non-contact delivery for users of the Freeshippo app (Alibaba’s new retail grocery chain)
  • Launching a cross border B2B platform to ensure swift delivery of medical supplies to areas in China that were worst hit by the virus
  • Setting up a reliable medicine sourcing initiative to deliver crucial prescription drugs to over 300 million patients suffering from chronic illnesses
  • Opening up its cloud platform to global research groups and institutions developing a vaccine
  • Developing an AI-enabled system for an accurate and speedy diagnosis of COVID-19
  • Producing a handbook to offer insights into how businesses can use digital technology to overcome the impacts of the pandemic.


While providing support of this nature would be out of reach by most companies, the Q1 growth in Alibaba users for 2020 may be reflective of how well these support initiatives have resonated with consumers showing the value of offering support in times of crisis.


Mobile messaging apps surge forward as traditional text messaging declines


Business Insider notes that new trends in media usage that could herald new channels to connect with consumers.

In 2020, US adults have spent on average 24 minutes per day on mobile apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, up from 19 minutes in 2019

The pandemic is not the only impact leading to this trend; the advanced functionality facilitating the ease of sharing videos, GIFs and memes is simpler than using text messaging and the use of video conferencing like Messenger Room (Facebook’s version of Zoom) could drive more time spent with the Messenger App 

Key learnings from this are to take note of the range of creative tools people are using to share and connect and monitor trends like the recent growth in video chatting to take advantage of new opportunities to reach consumers.


Onshoring set to rise as US and japan pay firms to up domestic production at China's expense


According to the Institute of Export and International Trade, a predicted outcome of COVID-19 is starting to play out; countries are increasing domestic production (rehoming) to reduce dependence on imports from China.

Initiatives announced include:

  • US President ‘Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, which encourages US companies to relocate their production domestically. Talks include government funding of the relocation costs
  • The Japanese government have provided a fund of 220 billion yen to promote domestic outputs to replace current imports
  • Financial support for Japanese companies with production plants overseas to relocate them back in Japan.


Could we see similar initiatives from global governments? Monitoring consumer trends will be key to assess whether this further incentivises people to buy locally produced goods.   


Wellness becomes the must-have, post-COVID-19 luxury for Chinese consumers 


China’s younger generation have always deemed achievement to be more important than wellness. However, the impacts of the pandemic have shifted this trend as China’s youth have sought broader and more sophisticated ways to curb their fears of how the future will play out, for example looking at ways to improve their skin and diet regimes at home or science driven workouts, says Jing Daily.

A new emerging trend is “beauty snacking” – snackable drinks to make your skin glow. Coca Cola, for example, have developed a late night ‘snackable drink’ called ‘the wakeup face’ that professes to enable people to wake up looking beautiful.

People are also taking a much closer look at how their diet will impact on their skin health with the sale of goji berries and bird’s nest (2 prestige diet supplements) increasing by 37%. In addition, home exercise equipment has also seen a boom


Acting on these trends, which are playing out globally, through providing consumers with innovative solutions on how they can improve their mental and physical well being will help brands to grow recognition and engagement during the move towards recovery from the impacts of the virus.

If you’d like to discuss any of the latest international marketing news included in this update, get in touch with our experts today.

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