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Unilever targets Chinese mobile shoppers with Dove sales on JD.com

By
June 16, 2015

Dove logo.

Dove logo.

Unilever is borrowing a page from Amazon’s playbook with its plan to launch an ecommerce store on China’s JD.com to sell its Ponds, Dove and Vaseline brands and capitalize on the mobile shopping boom in the Asian country.

The new store, which is expected to provide the consumer products giant with an avenue to test new offerings online in China, will bear a strong resemblance to Amazon, where products will be featured on the front page, or a user can perform a search for a specific product or product type. Besides offering Amazon-style payment, where a credit, debit or PayPal account is linked to an account, the move also should generate crucial data on the Chinese consumer’s preferences on mobile.

“The rate of mobile adoption, increase in mobile payment options and more manufacturers and designers bringing more products to the Chinese markets are all inextricably intertwined,” said Ken Wisnefski, founder and CEO of Webimax.

“This should provide Unilever with a lot of valuable marketing insight into the preferences of the Chinese buying public, particularly on mobile where most of this buying will be taking place.”

Lux shampoo
Unilever also will offer in China for the first time some Lux shampoo products that are best sellers in Japan.

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Offering best sellers in Japan to China.

Consumers will be able to buy these products on JD.com, which is similar to a portal to buy direct from different manufacturers. Purchases can be made either via PayPal, debit or credit card.

The new store launches during a month of deep discounting on JD.com tied to the ecommerce platform’s June 18 anniversary.

The range of products featured will be extended in the coming months to include some of Unilever’s premium personal care, home hygiene and food brands.

Unilever’s name is seen as an asset going into China where brands known for quality are valued by the average consumer.

By contrast, consumers in the U.S. interact with brands more on an everyday basis and tend not to view merchandise brand-by-brand but rather as part of a wider view that encompasses prices and services.

In a recent survey, 56 percent of Chinese consumers surveyed said that they agreed completely or somewhat that it was important that others recognized the brand they were wearing or using. Only 42 percent of U.S. consumers felt the same.

Despite China’s recent economic slowdown, the nation’s rapid growth in mobile shopping has out-paced many other markets.

As of last June, 527 million of China’s 632 million Internet users were mobile users, up 26.99 million over just the end of 2013. 

Last year, 205 million of China’s 332 million shoppers were mobile, but the semi-annual growth rate of just those mobile shoppers was 42 percent – 4.3 times the growth rate of the total online shopping market in China.

Growing demand
As mobile shopping takes off in China, consumer packaged goods companies are eager to get more of their products into buyers’ hands to build loyalty and sales.

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JD.com’s mobile site.

“With that growth, companies like Unilever are seeing more demand for their products and more opportunities to bring different product lines to market in China,” Mr. Wisnefski said.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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