Consumers are focusing less on discretionary purchases and more on staples. The sales of staple food items (as more people eat at home) and other products, such as disinfectants and household cleaners, are strong.
China's Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export of Medicines & Health Products has highlighted that since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, Chinese consumers have started to place even greater attention on health and nutrition. It is anticipated that there will be an increase in sales of multivitamins, vitamin C and fish oil. There has also been demand for various Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) products and associated dietary supplements – something linked to Chinese consumers currently spending more time indoors.
China's health food market is worth approximately RMB400 billion (about NZ$80 billion). Commentators see the COVID-19 outbreak as further stimulus for market growth, especially given that Chinese consumer knowledge of health foods has grown in recent years. An area to watch is health foods that are associated with boosting immunity.
Advice to exporters
China is a market that is cluttered with brands. As such, the ability of brand owners to reach consumers will come down to well-designed promotional plans with sufficient budget, online and offline channel strategies, consumer education and pricing. Local regulations must also be met for both products themselves and their promotion. For further insights, read this WeChat article (translation needed).
Consider diversification of sales channels to include both retail and food service channels. Consumers will remain fairly rational in terms of their food shopping habits, and will expect the products they prefer to be in consistent supply. Whilst demand is primarily for staples and necessities, consumers will still want to eat well and potentially enjoy some luxuries.