Chinese companies going global at accelerated pace

(People's Daily Online) 14:36, March 04, 2024

China's trendy toy brand Pop Mart opened its third offline store in Thailand on Feb. 9. After opening of its first offline store in Thailand in September 2023, Pop Mart has rapidly expanded its presence in the international market over the past half year.

In addition to Thailand, Pop Mart has already launched stores in nearly 20 countries including Singapore, South Korea, France and Australia, and continues to expand into new markets.

Customers shop at the flagship store of MINISO, a Chinese retailer known for its household products, at Times Square in New York, the U.S. (Photo courtesy of MINISO)

MINISO, a Chinese retailer known for its household products, opened its largest flagship store in the UK in Camden, London, on Feb. 17, its 26th store in the country. Since its global expansion nearly nine years ago, MINISO has opened over 6,200 stores in 107 countries and regions worldwide.

In recent years, many Chinese brands have continuously pushed forward their overseas operations, delivering impressive performances not just in cross-border e-commerce, but also in opening offline stores overseas and advancing localization of their supply chains.

While going global, Chinese companies are opening offline stores abroad and bringing their brand philosophy to overseas consumers, instead of just selling products made in China to overseas markets.

They choose locations for their stores after conducting in-depth market research and taking into account the features of their brands.

Photo shows customers in front of the first store of China's trendy toy brand Pop Mart in Thailand. (Photo courtesy of Pop Mart)

When Pop Mart was planning to launch its first brick-and-mortar store in Thailand, its team believed that the first store should be located in central Bangkok and surrounded by many international and local brands to attract locals and people from around the world.

Eventually, Thailand's first Pop Mart store opened at CentralWorld shopping mall in Bangkok's CBD. The store's sales on its opening day exceeded 2 million yuan ($277,889.8), which was far beyond expectations.

Customers shop at Pop Mart’s first store in Thailand. (Photo courtesy of Pop Mart)

In May 2023, MINISO opened its first global flagship store at Times Square in New York, the US, with long lines forming outside the store on opening day. The store's sales in the first month were eight times the average of the brand's other stores in the US, breaking its global record for highest monthly sales at a single store.

A key focus of MINISO's strategies for upgrading its brand is to open flagship stores in commercial districts to expand its brand exposure and perform better by leveraging the high popularity of business districts.

Ye Guofu, founder of MINISO, said that only by opening large stores can they better improve customers' awareness of the brand, which helps increase sales.

In November 2023, MINISO launched its first IP-themed flagship store featuring Sanrio characters at Margo City shopping center, one of Indonesia's most popular shopping malls, and opened its first UK "Blind Box" store on Shaftesbury Avenue in central London, and its 100th U.S. store in Orlando's famous Florida Mall.

Photo shows a customer at the checkout counter at the flagship store of MINISO in Camden, London. (Photo courtesy of MINISO)

The key for Chinese companies looking to put down roots overseas is offering products that are welcomed by overseas consumers.

In recent years, Chinese tea brands such as HEYTEA and Mixue have opened many stores in global markets. Since August 2023, HEYTEA has launched its first stores in several new global markets, including a store in London's SOHO district, and one in Melbourne, Australia, and one in Burnaby, Canada.

In contrast to traditional powdered milk tea abroad, HEYTEA uses real milk, tea, fruit and sugar to make its milk tea, which has proven popular in overseas markets.

HEYTEA's London SOHO store registered maximum sales of 2,000 cups a day since opening, while its average daily sales exceed 1,300 cups. The brand's Swanston store in Melbourne saw maximum sales of nearly 3,000 cups in just a day.

When coming up with products for overseas stores, MINISO adheres to the principle of combining globalization and localization, developing products tailored to the preferences of global consumers.

MINISO has collaborated with over 80 world-famous IPs such as Disney, Pokemon, and Sanrio, becoming a lifestyle trend brand featuring IP design. Its IP-themed blind boxes have become hugely popular overseas.

Ye said IP is an effective tool for directly targeting young consumers and can quickly and efficiently foster a deeper emotional connection with consumers.

Since 2019, MINISO has opened several Marvel IP stores across the world, with products related to Marvel superheroes, including Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, becoming a hit with young people.

Photo shows MINISO's products that integrate China's intangible cultural heritage elements and showcase the charm of Chinese culture to the world. (Photo courtesy of MINISO)

Additionally, China's profound cultural heritage has provided MINISO with diverse design inspiration. Elements such as giant pandas and the Forbidden City in its products have caught the attention of overseas consumers.

Jin Ge, an associate researcher at the Institute of Area Studies of Peking University, said China’s profound cultural heritage is always a source of inspiration enabling Chinese brands to go global.

Jin added that China's brands should have unwavering confidence in, promote, and make the world appreciate the charm of Chinese culture in the process of going global.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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