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Alibaba reveals China's online revolution

News, 18 December 2015

SHANGHAI: More than 300m Chinese consumers now shop on Alibaba's Tmall and Taobao online platforms, new data from the Chinese e-commerce giant has revealed.

Alibaba examined transactions on the sites between 2011 and 2015 in the biggest ever study of online consumer trends in China which shows the huge impact technology is having in the country.

According to the report, new China-specific megatrends are emerging as consumers buy healthier and smarter, with fitness, wellness and convenience major consumer sectors.

Alibaba found that the most popular products with Chinese shoppers are health, electronics, individualised personal items and traditional Chinese cultural items.

The company also believes that China's second and third-tier cities are the next consumer growth drivers in the country, as the internet becomes commonplace in provincial areas.

Middle-class Chinese shoppers are concerned with food safety and traceability, and are buying more organic foods than ever. Sales of healthcare products and sports equipment have also soared over the last four years.

Millennials are the biggest users of Alibaba's platforms and shoppers aged under 25 rely on mobile phones for their purchases. 


In 2013, just 22% payments were processed through mobile. But on the recent Single's Day, more than two-thirds of payments were made via smartphones, which an estimated 600m Chinese consumers now own.

The report also reveals some surprising trends, such as explosive growth in the popularity of robots, sales of which have increased 250% in the past two years.

Cleaning robots are the most popular in this category and people from Beijing, Shandong province in East China, and Liaoning province in Northeast China, seem to have a particular need for robots that clean windows, said Xia Ji, marketing director at Taobao.

"Under the intelligent category, smart home appliances are growing very fast, with the most popular item being cleaning robots. At least three out of every 10 families have bought them," Xia said in comments to CCTV.

And in another surprise finding, it emerged that consumers shop more on Qi Xi, the traditional Chinese Valentine's Day in August, rather than the Western equivalent in February, suggesting young people in China have started to place more value on their own traditions.

Data sourced from ValueWalk, CCTV; additional content by Warc staff