Top tips from Alibaba executive for Australian food companies moving into China

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 29th March 2017

Alibaba's director of business development in Australia and New Zealand, John O'Loghlen, during the Global Food Forum (Image: Aaron Francis/The Australian)

Australian food companies wanting to succeed in China need to tell a brand story says a key executive at Alibaba.

Speaking at this week’s The Australian Global Food Forum in Melbourne, John O’Loghlen, Australia and New Zealand Director of Business Development at Chinese online shopping platform Alibaba, said Chinese consumers want a know the history behind what they are buying from overseas.

He said many online Chinese consumers make “aspirational” purchases, hoping to achieve a particular lifestyle and are interested in brands, not generic, private label options.

O’Loghlen said the typical aspirational online Chinese consumer can spend an average of $45, 000 online each year and often become celebrities through blogging about their shopping habits.

Fresh direction for Alibaba

O’Loghlen said selling fresh foods will be the future of Alibaba, with plenty of opportunity for Australian producers of fresh foods due to China’s lack of quality land to grow their own produce.

He also stated that Alibaba’s business is “based around Singles Day”, a once-yearly online shopping event that occurs in China on 11 November. O’Loghlen however said that there are also other shopping days in China based around international brands that Australian food companies can take advantage of.

Top tips for success in China

Tips from John O’Loghlen for Australian food companies wanting to succeed in China include:

  • Understand that China is a very competitive market and there are lots of options for consumers to choose from. Just because you start selling in China does not mean your product will take off.
  • Companies need to start small, test the market and then learn from their mistakes.
  • Take advantage of special online shopping events like Singles Day held 11 November annually
  • Do not forget Chinese consumers purchasing international brands want a story behind the product Concentrate on how you are going to tell this story.


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