Drawing on insights from Alibaba Group’s ecosystem and consultation with ecommerce experts and entrepreneurs, Alibaba have identified the top five emerging ecommerce trends in China that could gain traction in 2023.
The 2023 ecommerce trends should influence not just which products you source, but also how you market them to Chinese consumers and your strategy for the year ahead
2023 Ecommerce Trends in China
1) Virtual Influencers
In 2022, AI-powered digital creations gained celebrity status as they strutted down virtual catwalks, were projected onto the stages of dance competitions and held livestream sessions.
Chinese brands tapped these virtual idols to build their profiles and amass followers among the country’s digitally-native consumers.
Virtual influencers will become more commonplace in the year ahead, according to market research firm Forrester. It predicts that a fifth of B2C brands in China will use digital idols to improve consumers’ shopping experiences in 2023.
2) Gen Z Shoppers
Generation Z shoppers, born between 1996 and 2010, account for around 15% of China’s population as of 2021, but have an oversized influence on consumption trends.
As one of the fastest-growing consumer cohorts on China’s e-commerce platforms, zoomers accounted for close to two-thirds of consumers on Tmall Global in 2022 and over 17% on Tmall Luxury Pavilion.
Their spending power is on the rise. In 2022, the total number of luxury gifts purchased by consumers born after 1995 surpassed those born after 1985 for the first time on Tmall Luxury Pavilion.
They are also more willing to pay for experiences and have a greater desire to stand out from the crowd, transforming what were once considered niche categories into mainstream juggernauts, such as skateboarding and non-alcoholic drinks.
The metaverse expanded in 2022, and fashion companies explored its potential from digital collectibles to virtual try-on services.
Alibaba’s ecosystem allows consumers to explore brands through game-like experiences, browse digital showrooms in personalized avatars, try on clothing, and shop collectible tokens.
Digital collectibles emerged in 2022 as a must-have technology for brands to build a community of followers in the metaverse and real life.
In the year ahead, Alibaba expect more retailers than ever to leverage this arsenal of digital tools to engage consumers and develop products, like British luxury brand Burberry, which created a private digital salon for coat shopping on Tmall Luxury Pavilion.
By 2026, a quarter of consumers will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social or entertainment, according to Gartner.
Pet ownership is changing in China as consumers treat their furry companions more like small children, right down to specially made clothing and tech devices.
Pet food brands on Tmall recorded a three-digit growth year-on-year in their gross merchandising value (GMV), during the first checkout period of the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, also known as Double 11, in November.
Younger consumers in China are also investing in digital gadgets such as intelligent pet bowls that track pets’ eating habits and companion robots that keep pets company when their owners are away.
5) The Great Outdoors
Chinese outdoors enthusiasts took to the ski slopes en masse and went camping in droves through 2022.
Travel restrictions and the Winter Olympics in Beijing drove young consumers outdoors, feeding a winter sports boom.
Sales of winter sports equipment rose 300% on Alibaba’s e-commerce marketplace Tmall between the 31st of January and the 4th of February, including a 180% jump in skiing gear. Outdoor gear and camping sales on Tmall doubled in March compared with the same time last year.