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Chinese consumers quickly become ecommerce super shoppers

Chinese CPG shoppers are more willing than consumers in other markets to buy products online via smartphones and computers, a new report by Bain & Company and Kantar Worldpanel declares, making China the world’s top digital retail CPG market.

This development can be attributed in large part to massive growth seen in just the last year. Online retail sales of goods surveyed jumped 42 percent from the year before. Baby goods and beauty products were the most popular items, with skin care and color cosmetics not far behind.

This data should come as little surprise, however. A Pricewaterhousecoopers survey published this Spring showed that nearly 75% of Chinese citizens who shop online do so on a weekly basis, more than three times that of the United States.

The rising popularity of ecommerce in China can be attributed in large part to new access to smartphones and social media among the country’s burgeoning middle class. Eighty-six percent of respondents there said they buy products on social media (22% in U.S.) while 77% said they shop on their mobile phones (29% in U.S.).

The appeal is broad, but China’s web shoppers said that lower prices (68%) and round-the-clock convenience (46%) were two of the most attractive features of ecommerce.

Twenty-something marketing assistant Li Hui echoed the sentiment of many Chinese when she told Businessweek that shopping online is “faster and more convenient.” She added that it offers other perks that brick-and-mortar retailer simply can’t such as a wider selection and a more seamless price comparison experience.

The most popular items bought online in China were books, music, movies and video games (88%) clothing and footwear (81%) and toys  (74%).

In China, much like in other emerging economies included in the poll, a majority of respondents had only just begun shopping online, signaling its growth potential. Sixty-three percent of online shoppers in the country said they had made their first online purchase in the last  four years (22% in U.S.).

China’s ecomm embrace shouldn’t come as a surprise, of course. The stats are impressive: It’s the second largest ecommerce market globally, with upwards of $210 billion in annual sales. Since 2003 the country has experienced a compound annual growth rate of 120 percent. It also has the world’s largest online population with 600+ million and counting. Taking all of this into account, the potential for China to rival the U.S. in the ecommerce market, where it still currently lags far behind, can’t be understated.

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