RIP Michael Norris – our beloved colleague

It is with profound shock and great sorrow that we have to announce the death of our respected colleague Michael Norris, a very important member of Agency China, who passed away unexpectedly on May 26, 2022 after a sudden physical illness that failed to be rescued in Shanghai Sixth People’s Hospital.

With the loss of Mr. Norris, we have lost such a talented colleague and a trusted friend, and we extend our most heartfelt condolences and sympathy to Michael’s family for the lose of their beloved one.

It’s hard to put into words in this moment of great pain.

Mr Michael Norris, may your soul rest in peace.

2022 China E-commerce Calendar

China is the world’s largest e-commerce market. From the overall penetration rate of e-commerce, there is still a broad space for improvement, and potential categories determine the future growth space of the industry. In terms of the overall category, the penetration rate of e-commerce is about 25% at present. But the penetration rate of categories is different, especially for fresh food and beverage that the penetration rate of e-commerce is below 10%. These are large categories with trillions of dollars, so there is still a lot of space for ecommerce development.

From the perspective of consumer transaction scenes, the world has entered the era of video and live streaming. The most direct impact on e-commerce is the improvement of conversion rate. Live streaming room with more intuitive commodity display, anchor stimulating words, can greatly improve the conversion rate. According to research data from iResearch, the conversion rate of livestreaming e-commerce has increased from 0.5% to 4.3%.

Agency China has put together your 2022 China E-commerce Calendar to help you identify critical e-commerce shopping festivals to focus on, and to prompt deeper thinking about content and sales rhythms.

(Download your 2022 China E-commerce Calendar at the bottom of the article!)

January: New Year’s Day

A new marketing journey will start from the New Year’s Day. “Welcome the Chinese Year of Tiger” serves as a starting point to discuss on social media, such as New Year wishes, New Year’s image, etc. Brands also need to prepare “New Year shopping streets” and Spring Festival music for consumers in advance to create a hot atmosphere, so as to promote your marketing needs.

(Image Resource: Gucci)

February: Spring Festival & Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day in 2022 just happens to be during the Chinese Spring Festival. As a traditional Chinese festival focusing on “Reunion” and a Western festival focusing on “Love”, combination of the keywords of these two festivals and carrying out the brand marketing campaigns around the related topics will help a brand be more easily accepted by Chinese consumers.

March: Women’s Day

In China, Women’s Day is better known as the Queen’s Day, which describes women in the new era around independence, self-confidence and individuality. Women’s Day is the start of a year of competition between e-commerce platforms. In addition to various promotional activities on ecommerce platform, brands will also launch off-platform campaign to boost brand influence. Taking advantage of the hot event during the Spring Festival when the Chinese women’s football team won the gold medal at the Asian Championship, Nike launched a hashtag: Follow Your Way and released a commercial on Women’s Day, telling a story of Pubuzhma, a female football player who led the men’s team. In addition, Nike invited four representative women who dared to challenge the rules to share their opinions in a talk show, which generated a lot of discussion on social media.

(Image Resource: Nike)

April: April Fool’s Day
April Fool’s Day is a good time for creative marketing. In recent years, in the major e-commerce platforms, it is not difficult to find that there are always some brands to bring consumers some unexpected products at this time.

March: 520

May 20th or 520 is known as the modern-day Valentine’s Day in China because “Five Two Zero” in Chinese sounds like “I love you”. In the past, 520 marketing was more based on giving gifts to express love for loved ones or relatives.

However, with the mainstream awareness of women caring for themselves, 520 marketing on e-commerce platforms focuses more on the value of “self-support to improve happiness” which subtly eliminating the sense of distance between the brand and women.

June: Children’s Day & 618

Children’s Day

Children’s Day has been a popular shopping day in China, where elders spoil children with many gifts, such as clothes, toys, etc. However, it should be noted that children’s Day has spread from children to adults, and people hope to find the memories and happiness of childhood through this festival.

Brands need to adapt quickly to these changes in perceptions and preferences. Everything from the target group, campaign topic to the marketing copywriting and page design needs to change.


618 is the most influential e-commerce campaign in the first half of each year, and it began live-streaming last year. In last year’s 618 live broadcast war, the leading host broadcast 17 live shows, bringing in 3 billion RMB of sales amount. The popularity of live broadcast will continue to this year, and the product category will be more diversified.

August: Qi Xi

As the Chinese Valentine’s Day, Qi Xi has been a great marketing opportunity for jewelry, restaurants, clothing stores, flowers, movie theaters, cosmetics and gift shops. In last year, Chanel invited two brand ambassadors to shoot a special Qi Xi festival short film.

(Image Resource: CHANEL)

September: New Academic Year

For Chinese students, September is the beginning of a new academic year, which is a good opportunity for educational products to be promoted and usually achieve good sales. Although the campaign seems to be aimed at students and their parents, it is often easier for brands to engage with creative marketing, such as co-branding campaigns.

October: Golden Week

The National Day holiday is also called golden Week, which lasts for seven days from 1st October, is a good opportunity for most people to take a vacation or go back to their hometown. It is important for travel related brands to pay attention to the fact that consumers usually plan their travel arrangements in advance, so we recommend that marketing campaigns should be arranged at least one month ago.

November: Double Eleven Campaign

As the largest e-commerce festival in China, double eleven of 2021 achieved 540.3 billion RMB on Tmall and 349.1 billion RMB on JD, with a total of 290,000 brands participating. According to QuestMobile, Taobao, Pinduoduo and JD had 684 million de-active users on the launch day of double eleven campaign.

Livestreaming e-commerce is still very popular. In terms of sales categories, beauty cosmetics, food and beverage are still popular. Taobao livestreaming sales account for 91.2% of beauty cosmetics and 5.7% of food and beverage.

We suggest never miss the Double 11 campaign and strive for a new annual sales record through it.

December:Christmas Day

Christmas Day is the most important festival in the West, has become very popular in China in recent years, especially among young people. The survey found that 70 percent of Christmas goers in China are younger than 38 years old, and 45 percent of them have strong purchasing power. Therefore, for businesses and businesses, Christmas is the last marketing opportunity at the end of the year.

As you can see, China offers a ton of opportunities for brands to promote their products on the countless e-commerce holidays on the various big and smaller platforms. Our advise for every brand is to pick and choose wisely, finding relevant events for their niche and target audience. Participation in the biggest events such as Double 11 and 618 might be a must. But it is best to plan the years promotion budget split for the other events based on where your brand could achieve the best possible outcome.

Would you like to get support in making your annual promotion calendar, and finding the right ways to reach your target audience during these popular e-commerce holidays in China? Don’t hesitate to get in touch for an initial consult with our local team of experts. Let’s make 2022 a great success for your brand in China!

Fund Aims to Unlock Beauty Investments in China

Shiseido China has announced the launch of a Beauty Innovations Fund in collaboration with Boyu Capital. The fund, which is due to start this year after the relevant regulatory filings are complete, will explore investment opportunities among emerging Chinese brands in cosmetics and wellness. 

Global Merchants Double Over 618

250,000 merchants and brands from around the globe participated in this year’s 6.18 on Tmall, more than double last year. Of these, two-thirds expected Tmall would be their primary sales channel for 618, according to a third-party survey.

Millennial Develops Livestream e-Commerce

In five short years, a millennial’s flash of inspiration proved to be a game-changing model. Livestream technology has not only enhanced the shopping experience for consumers, but reshaped the face of commerce.

China’s Changing Tea Culture

China’s tea culture has undergone drastic changes in recent years as companies have rebranded the once-staid beverage as a high-end, fresh, and healthy consumer experience. The resulting products, known colloquially as “new-style teas,” are big business. 

5 Export Opportunities to China in 2021

China’s economic planners have set a 6% GDP growth target for 2021. China, it appears, has shrugged off the worst of COVID-19. This has many brands asking:

Where are the export opportunities to China in 2021?   

We sat down with AgencyChina’s Research & Strategy Manager, Michael Norris, who relayed what he and his team of Chinese market research professionals had found on a few recent projects.

Below is an edited transcript. If you like what you hear, you can sign up to arrange a free expert call with Michael Norris, now available till May 31. A unique chance to get some great first-hand China knowledge!

Top Export Product Opportunities in China

Editor: What product categories do you think have the best prospects in China this year?

Michael Norris: I think the pillars for imported brands in China will remain largely unchanged this year – skincare, haircare, pet care and nutrition continue to have strong tailwinds. Principally, the purchasing power of China’s middle-class continues to increase and there’s a universal desire among the type of middle-class consumers we work with to look and feel their best.

However, what we continue to advise new market entrants is China is now a level playing field. That is to say, the ‘halo effect’ imported brands once enjoyed has faded away. As such, brands need to do their homework before they enter.

Top Export Product Niches in China

Editor: Drilling down, what niches do you expect to have strong growth this year?

Michael Norris: There are five niches I really like this year. The first is toothpaste, which is seeing ingredient and format innovation. This driven by a focus on dental beautification – straight teeth and a bright smile.

The next is cat food. Cat ownership is growing faster than dog ownership, and, if current trends continue, cats will become China’s most preferred pet in a year or two.

A further changing preference is perfumes and fragrances. Fragrances are increasingly signifier for style and taste among China’s younger white-collar types, both male and female. Recognizing this demand, Tmall has even opened up a direct air route to carry over niche perfumes by air freight.

When it comes to personal style, we can’t go past hair. I like the prospects of a number of hair care niches, especially anti-breakage and strengthening shampoos. The China Association of Health Promotion and Education reckons that China’s premature hair loss population stands at a whopping 250 million, most of them between 20 and 40 years old. Any help brands can give here is undoubtedly welcome.

I know it’s bigger than a niche, but I do have to say it as it’s one of my favorites: male skincare and cosmetics. We expect the average number of skincare products male consumers to rise from 1.5 to 3.5 over the next five years, which will drive significant category growth.

Advice For Brands Entering China

Editor: What can brands do to keep up with changes in China’s consumer preferences?

Michael Norris: Top performing brands tend to have a strong sense of what they already know and what they want to find out about the consumer. They then craft a research agenda around those things to make sure they keep up to date. There’s a quick mental quicklist anyone can use to start their own research agenda.

  1. What are the three things you’d most like to know about your Chinese consumers current habits? How are these things important to your business?
  2. What are the three things you’d most need to learn about to prepare your business for the future?
  3. What evidence do you have about these things already? How would you rate the quality of that evidence?
  4.  What plans do you have to update existing evidence or gather new evidence?

AgencyChina is a full-service agency, covering market research, marketing and e-commerce operations. That means we’re in a great place to help new and established brands at any point in their journey.

We can help size up an opportunity and build a business case, use consumer interviews to understand changing needs, create a distinctive brand in-market, or identify which parts of a brand’s e-commerce operations need some fine-tuning.

I always encourage folks to have an open dialogue with us. Let us know where you’re at, and we can see whether we’re a good fit.