SYDNEY: Chinese personal shoppers, known as "daigou", have emerged as a powerful consumer segment in Australia, as more Australian brands head for the lucrative China market.

Thousands of daigou buy local brands in Australia exclusively for the huge re-sale market in China because Australian brands, particularly in the food and health sectors, are sought after and popular for their safety and premium quality.

(For more on the influence of daigou shoppers, read Warc's exclusive report: Australia's brands crack China with daigou personal shoppers.)

Local brands are taking notice and forging strong relationships with the daigou networks, which are often instigated by the shoppers themselves.

This is certainly the case for one of the success stories, a2 Milk, which launched its a2 Platinum infant formula into the Chinese market in 2013.

Speaking to Warc, Susan Massasso, Marketing Director at a2 Milk, explained: "Our brand and our brand reputation started to become well known among Chinese shoppers and Chinese consumers.

"The daigou tracked us down and said, 'We'd like to either purchase from you or we'd like some more information about you'. They came and found us."

Given the way daigou operate – often as small businesses run out of homes or small warehouses – their overall share of the domestic market can be difficult to track.

But in some categories, such as infant formula, up to 80% of total domestic sales in Australia may ultimately be bound for the Chinese market.

"Some of the daigou purchase direct from us, some of them purchase through other retail channels such as Woolworth's, Coles or through any host of retail channels across Australia. It is actually very difficult to put a figure on it," Massasso said.

Massasso believes a2 Milk's success with daigou has been the result of establishing a strong brand in a category where consumers, particularly in China, are increasingly discerning.

"We have a lot of respect for the sales channel," she said. "They are growing and highly sophisticated in how they both service the needs of their consumers but also in how they interact with us."

Data sourced from Warc