Gifts Today magazine

28% buyer increase for Interior Lifestyle China

The China International Trade Fair for Household Products and Accessories saw a huge increase in buyer numbers verifying huge potential in the Chinese market

Growing demand for lifestyle products in China’s middle and upper classes has led to a huge surge in visitors to Interior Lifestyle China 2014. A total of 21,773 buyers attended the fair representing a very strong 28 percent increase compared to the 2013 edition. These buyers came from 60 countries and regions which was a significant increase from the 37 in 2013.

The show, which featured 235 exhibitors (2013: 282) from 17 countries and regions, was held from 18 to 20 September 2014 at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre across 20,000 square metres of exhibition area. While the number of exhibitors dropped this year, quality and stand sizes of exhibiting companies increased due to an adjustment in the exhibitor structure to accept increasingly mid-range and high-end companies.

The increase in buyers this year confirms the huge potential in the Chinese market according to Wendy Wen, Senior General Manager of Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd. “This fair has been in existence for eight years now, so to have such a large increase in buyers for an already well-established event really shows the strong recent growth in this industry in China,” she said. “Interior Lifestyle China targets the mid-range and high-end sectors of the Chinese market – the only fair in the domestic market to do so – and there is definitely strong demand at present as well as potential in the future in these sections of the industry.”

Exhibitors confirm strong demand in mid-range and high-end sectors
As the Chinese middle and upper classes continue to grow, so does demand for interior lifestyle products according to the fair’s exhibitors. “We’ve had around four times more growth in China than we expected,” said Anthony Anderson, International Sales Director of German cookware supplier WOLL. “We’re growing very fast and this is our biggest growth market, and the high-end market here will continue to grow for sure.”

Domestic exhibitors confirmed the same sentiment. “Chinese consumers are beginning to look for safe and healthy mid-range and high-end branded products,” explained Huai Lei, Sales Manager of Chinese brand Elemental Kitchen. “While Europe is a more mature market, here it is still developing and growing.” Importantly for exhibitors, the fair attracted many buyers from these market levels. “Most visitors to the fair are high-end buyers and they are looking for good quality and design,” outlined Wayne Xiang, President of Chinese tableware, cookware and household products importer Likuai. “Being at this fair is beneficial for us as we can meet good-quality customers.”

GENESIS is a distributor of mid-range and high-end imported kitchen and diningware products in China, and is a repeat exhibitor to the fair. “We’ve participated here for six years as we believe the fair is a successful way to reach the mid-range and high-end of the market. It’s also a good platform to build our brand image and establish ourselves as a high-end company in the market, and we’ve achieved all our participation goals here,” General Manager Jackson Liang said.

While demand in the domestic sector is growing strongly at present, exhibitors confirmed there is still room for the market to expand in the future. “Absolutely there’s a lot of potential here, and we’re only just scratching the surface at the moment,” explained Michael Preis, Head of Export of Fashy GmbH from Germany. “We double our sales in China every year, and can sell as much as we’re able to produce. This year we had 30 to 40 people in our booth at times so it’s been very good.”

European brands popular with domestic buyers
Exhibitors from Europe reported almost unanamously that their brands and product quality were highly sought after by Chinese buyers. British firm Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton explained that their contemporary products with traditional Chinese design elements were particularly popular. “The response has been very good for our products and I believe the market here still has much potential,” Marketing Manager Annie Chou said.

Eric Cui, Manager of Cookut from France, agreed. “Absolutely, our European brand is very popular here, and demand is better than last year in the high-end market.” Barbara Pea of Italian supplier Carlo Giannini SpA, explained: “People are definitely coming here to look for European brands and they understand that our quality is better.” German exhibitor Miji, which has over 120 stores in China, has had a lot of success in the market. “Demand in China is high and our products are very popular; our German brand is very sought after. We sell in lots of channels here including online and TV shopping, and are expanding the number of stores we have in the country,” Elva Liu, Senior Brand Manager said.

Harold Import Co. reported that the two most important things for buyers in China tend to be brand popularity and uniqueness of the product. “Our impression is that the Chinese consumer likes brands, and is brand loyal,” Nicole Herman, Director of Marketing for the American company, explained. “Demand for our European brands seems incredibly strong, especially for Italian, French, and German brands.

Buyers looking for high-quality products satisfied with fair’s offerings
Many buyers came to the fair looking for high-quality products and left satisfied with what they found. “The products here are of very high quality; in fact, we cannot find them in other fairs in China. And I’m satisfied with the quality of both European and Asian suppliers too,” Peter Liu, Owner of Xi Bu Luo Er Café from China said. Liu Dan from Shandong JoYoung Electric Appliance agreed: “The quality of the items here is very good, and there is more variety in designs than I expected,” he said.

Huang Qiong from Shanghai Jintian Technology was looking for lighting products at the fair, and agreed with the quality on offer as well as the design inspiration he could find. “I think the strength of the fair is that it has many brands, and European suppliers in particular are of very good quality. The fair also gives us more design inspiration for home living ideas.” Overseas buyer George Gleditzsch from Taicheng Kentong Science & Trade also found the fair useful to understand the domestic market. “This fair is good for high-end products and to get new ideas about what’s popular in the market. I’ve seen products here from overseas brands I never thought I would see imported to China, so market demand changes so much.”

Fringe programme provides inspiration to industry
With Chinese lifestyle brands as well as consumers eager for the latest trends and new designs and ideas, the fair provided a range of displays and events to meet this demand under the theme ‘The Best Time’ which reflects the current period of innovation and development in the local market. Global lifestyle brand Habitat was invited to organise a Theme Display Area which brought a European perspective to store display strategies. Various activities with audience interaction also took place including cooking classes and shows, and tea parties.

A number of seminars and forums were also held to upskill participants in everything from visual merchandising and product design to branding and information about the retail market, and were well appreciated by those in attendance. “I have attended many seminars during the fair and found them to be very useful and informative,” Brian Pyo, Vice President of Father & Son from Korea explained. “The seminars are a good platform to gain ideas on product presentation, and are especially useful for me in my design work,” Lin Chen Ye from Shanghai Blue Industry Design said.

The next Interior Lifestyle China will take place from 17 to 19 September 2015 at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre.
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