Selling to the Chinese Market

China has the fourth-largest economy in the world, at $2.26 trillion. That is approximately one-seventh the size of the U.S. economy.

But do you know its biggest economic distinction? It is the fastest growing economy in the world.

And with its 1.3 Billion people, which is more than four times the population of the United States, it is attractive. The prize, of course, is China’s emerging middle class, called “chuppies” (at least, that’s what we call them here in the West). They are hungry for gadgets, appliances, personal care products, clothing, soda pop and more. And they appreciate the quality of American consumer goods.

If it says “made in USA” on it, they probably want it.

So what’s stopping you from giving it to them?

One of the main barriers to doing business in China is that most of us just know very little about business conditions and the market in China. Walk down any American street, stop 20 people randomly, and ask what they know about doing business in China. Be prepared for looks that are as blank as a brand new whiteboard.

To most of us, the language is baffling. The culture is unfamiliar. The country is literally on the other side of the planet from the United States, and as a result, few of us have visited there.

Enter UPS.

UPS has conducted a survey about selling to Chinese consumers, designed to help small and midsize businesses that are considering entering China as a market.

It turns out that Chinese consumers are not that far off from American and Western consumers, in a number of ways. According to the UPS press release, “… China is an increasingly sophisticated, much more complex and far less monolithic consumer market than it was perhaps previously believed to be.”

The key to the Chinese consumer seems to be educated young people in urban centers, who live with their parents, keeping their expenses low. This in turn gives them disposable income.

UPS has set up a special website with the survey results, as well as other helpful statistics and resources about marketing your wares in China.

Many thanks to Laurel Delaney, of the BorderBuster blog, for pointing out this survey to me. Laurel is listed under the special section in the website, What Others Had to Say. Thanks Laurel!


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

9 Reactions
  1. Hi, Anita — So glad you featured the UPS 2006 Chinese Consumer Survey for your readers. It’s a must-read for any SME interested in exploring and eventually doing business there. Take care. ~ Laurel

  2. Thank YOU, Laurel, for pointing it out to me. This was a very interesting survey on several different levels.

    I especially liked the way UPS set up a special website just for the survey, and broke down the information.

    I know that China seems a mysterious place to many small business owners. It helps to have more information, to break down the knowledge barriers.


  3. We need the patience and perseverence in the Chinese Market.

    Yes, they want the foreign products – the status is higher when they show them.

    They are very patient negotiators – they know that we are always in the rush to close the deal.

    Chinese Consumers !!?? – take away the “Chinese” word and we realize that they are looking for “good products, good value” like every other consumer in the world.

    One thing for sure – they want products “Made in USA” not “Made in China”. We can take advantage of this reverse psychology.


  4. China is the biggest consumer of 700 series BMW’s and Mercedez. We need to turn aournd and be able to sell American luxery items to these wealthy consumers, not to mention the ever growing middle class. There are websites such as whose function is to create sites that target the Chinese consumers, it’s time to flip the script and earn, by selling to the Chinese. There are as many Chinese Millionares as there are Americans. Keep that in mind as we look to the future.