British brands are set to lose out on the Chinese shopping occasion Singles Day today as consumers opt for local brands instead.
More than a third of Chinese shoppers said they would buy fewer products from British brands this year compared to last year.
Consultancy AlixPartners, who organised the survey of over 2,000 Chinese consumers, said it was more important than ever for British retailers to take a “decisive strategy in the face of waning demand for foreign products in China.”
Most Chinese consumers (73 per cent) were planning to prioritise local brands over foreign labels. They were motivated by national loyalty, product quality, and lengthy delivery times.
“British retailers and suppliers should seek to capture the pent-up consumer demand that we’re seeing by investing in product quality and in the strengthening of their supply chains,” AlixPartners’ consumer products specialist, Amelia Green, said.
What’s more, Harry Barnick, senior retail sector analyst at Third Bridge, said Chinese customers were boycotting “Western brands, from H&M to Adidas, in response to the Xinjiang scandal.”
He added: “These brands have come under fire with Chinese customers for pulling supply from the Xinjiang province. Although China has long been viewed as a strategic growth opportunity for Western brands, recently it is becoming more problematic.”
China is believed to have detained more than one million Uyghurs against their will over the past few years, in the north-western region of Xinjiang.
British firms looking to appeal to Chinese shoppers have been encouraged to invest in live streaming channels, which command the majority of Singles Day sales.
Four in ten Chinese consumers said their preference for local brands was driven by product quality, safety, and durability.
Firms should look to invest “in creating sustainable products that will last, and to adopt a more local approach to manufacturing,” Green said.
Some 41 per cent of shoppers were planning to spend less on US products too while Japan was the most popular market outside of China.
The origins of Singles Day can be traced back to male students at Nanjing University in 1993, with tech giant Alibaba beginning to promote the day in 2009.
It is a day for single people to buy themselves gifts ahead of Christmas.