The local Chinese market in Australia is set to become one of the biggest areas of opportunity for natural product retailers, an expert says.

Australian natural product retailers have huge opportunity in targeting the lucrative Chinese consumer domestically as the health food and product market reaches its peak, David Thomas, China expert, told Retailbiz at Naturally Good in Sydney on Monday.

As the natural and organic market continues to grow exponentially, Australian retailers should leverage their reputation as a leading provider of natural products and appeal to the more than 3 million Chinese consumers on Australian shores, Mr Thomas says.

“What many of the Chinese think about when they think of Australia is natural, organic, fresh, slightly funky, different – a lifestyle choice which I think means the organic healthy products sector is a huge opportunity for us.”

Everything from Australian natural beauty products to foods, supplements and even craft beer are highly popular among Chinese consumers, Mr Thomas says, and Australian retailers should get better at targeting these consumers if they want to unlock massive revenue.

“We need better conversations in Australia about how we tap into this massive demand,” he says, pointing to the massive spending power and economic growth in China.

In particular, millennial consumers are leading the way when it comes to the power of their spending, Mr Thomas says, with a large portion of the demographic running into massive wealth in recent years as a result of China’s one child policy.

“As a result Chinese millennials have all this money and we’re starting to see them spend it in our stores.”

China’s growth comes as the number of certified organic operators in Australia also grew 19 per cent last year.

Make your brand speak Chinese

Mr Thomas says the secret to appealing to these Chinese consumers onshore is simple – market your product in Chinese and even employ Chinese staff, so that these consumers relate to your product and brand.

Australian retailers overall need to do a lot more to target this demographic, he says.

“We could start becoming more familiar with their tools, social media, internet marketing and We Chat, which has around 3 million users in Australia. We need to become more We Chat familiar and enabled and we need to put up Chinese websites and business names and translate brand propositions in Chinese.

“We also need to get a lot better at understanding some of the cross-cult differences when engaging in price discussions or communicating the value proposition of a product,” he said.

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