Fortnum & Mason Sees Chinese Consumers’ Lifestyle Changes Boosting Global Consumer Brands

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Fortnum & Mason Sees Chinese Consumers’ Lifestyle Changes Boosting Global Consumer Brands



Royal grocer Fortnum & Mason sees a greater work-life balance among China’s younger generations benefitting global consumer brands.

The storied British retailer accelerated its digital transformation through the coronavirus pandemic and launched in China via Alibaba Group’s cross-border digital marketplace Tmall Global in June.

In this video, Fortnum & Mason’s Regional Managing Director APAC Carmen Chiu discusses with Zarina Kanji, Head of Business Development for Health & Wellness, and Food for the UK and Nordics at Tmall Global, the latest consumer trends in China in the run up to the world’s largest retail event, the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival.

Chiu explains why Fortnum decided to expand in China and shares her tips for a smooth market entry with other European brands looking to make the leap into the world’s second-largest retail market.

As Fortnum navigates 11.11 for the first time, the brand is taking a “test & learn” approach, responding to customer data and learning whether the product lineup truly resonates with the Chinese consumer.

One of her takeaways is that China’s burgeoning affluent middle class is spending more time and money on experiences and small luxuries to make life more enjoyable.

“Chinese behaviour is more lifestyle driven and that is giving us confidence about how we positioned ourselves when we entered the market. So definitely that’s the major learning,” said Chiu.

European brands are still very much looking to enter China and Chinese consumers are very much looking for their types of products
– Zarina Kanji  Tmall Global

So far, so good. Fortnum has shot up the rankings in Tmall’s tea category, from over 1,000 when it first launched to 273rd position as of October. Also, 13% of shoppers are repeat customers since launch, even as its focus remains firmly on gaining new customers and growing brand awareness in the world’s most populous country.

There are 70,000 brands participating for the first time in the annual 11.11 festival, also known as Double 11 or Single’s Day, across Alibaba’s platforms.

“European brands are still very much looking to enter China and Chinese consumers are very much looking for their types of products,” said Kanji.

There are over 40,000 international brands on Tmall Global selling to Chinese consumers on the platform, two-thirds of whom belong to Generation Z and 70% of them are women, noted Kanji.

Girl Camping By The Sea At Night
Chinese tourists are enjoying a more glamourous version of camping. Photo credit: Weiquan Lin / Getty

Glamping

Fortnum is gleaning insights from China, such as how to swiftly spot emerging shopping trends and adapt them its range of products to suit local tastes and needs.

Among these consumer trends, Chiu has encountered is glamping as holiday-makers stay closer to home during the pandemic. Fortnum is offering campers a glamorous array of picnic products in its Tmall Global store, from high-end wicker hampers to biscuits.

On November 26, Fortnum will host a picnic for 1,000 families in Shanghai, in collaboration with Wellington College. The British brand hopes to smash records for the biggest picnic ever and to add that extra dash of glamour, there will, of course, be plenty of Fortnum’s sparkling tea and hampers seen on the College grounds.

“Online and offline are inseparable,” said Chiu.

The family-owned business is also taking advantage of the latest marketing tools, gearing up to livestream demonstrations from its chefs, tearistas, sommeliers and other events, direct to Chinese consumers via Alibaba’s Taobao Live platform.

On November 3, Fortnum livestreamed straight from its flagship Piccadilly store in London to Chinese consumers.

Glamping Fortnum And Mason5.jpg
Glamping in style. Photo credit: Fortnum & Mason’s

Key Quotes:

Carmen Chiu, Fortnum & Mason’s Regional Managing Director APAC

“Digital is going to be a major pillar in our next five years’ strategy and going onto Tmall Global earlier this year has been amazing journey.”

“In the old days, Double 11 was more like a discount festival, but now…customers are looking for what’s new and what is able to elevate their experience day to day. So, I believe having new products actually drives brand awareness as well riding on such an important festival online.”

Zarina Kanji, Head of Business Development for Health & Wellness, and Food for the UK and Nordics, Tmall Global

“European brands are still very much looking to enter China and Chinese consumers are very much looking for their types of products.”

“Chinese consumers are extremely willing to try beauty and wellness devices for everything from fitness to sleep to beauty.”

“European brands are still very much looking to enter China and Chinese consumers are very much looking for their types of products.”

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