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FloraHolland: Employing e-commerce to serve the Chinese market
During the trials, WFE takes a pragmatic approach to investigating what is successful on the Chinese market and what is not. How do ten bouquets fare at five different supermarkets, for example? How does the consumer respond to these bouquets? The question is, explains WFE program director, "Which colors are a success, and which are not? Which types and varieties are the most popular and which less so?"
The Chinese love lavender
Alongside the trials, WFE is using social listening to better understand the market, by 'listening in' on the Chinese market and considering what the preferences are. For example, what is it about lavender that the Chinese like? It is sold in large quantities on Chinese Valentine's Day. "That is because a film star with a lot of followers was pictured on the Chinese equivalent of Facebook with a bouquet of lavender, commenting that it smells great, and the followers agree. Before you know it, it's a huge hype."
In particular, the e-commerce channel is being tested with regards to serving the Chinese market. "In China there are a lot of young people (also known as post 90s) without siblings that are now entering the labor market with a nice salary. They were born with a phone in their hand and are much more oriented to the mobile channel than young people in the Netherlands. In China, 60% of them makes mobile purchases. E-commerce platforms such as Alibaba are undergoing explosive growth. They serve millions of young Chinese and are much further advanced than in the Netherlands."
As far as logistics are concerned, China is a difficult country when it comes to transport, which is partly due to the mentality. "It is difficult to tap the potential in the market. There is little focus on conditioning and cooling. Ultimately, we will have to find ways to improve the logistics channels in China." Another element to bear in mind is the stubborn Chinese culture. "The Chinese can be put off by the wrong packaging alone. Shelf-life isn't important, because it only has to look good on the day of purchase. Packaging is a very important means of underscoring the product."
Flowers and the Netherlands
At the end of October, FloraHolland joined King Willem-Alexander's trade mission to China. Chinese e-commerce companies such as Alibaba are very interested in our flowers. "All Chinese associate flowers with the Netherlands, and we need to take advantage of that. In their eyes we are the world champions of flowers and plants. They want to buy milk powder from the Netherlands for their children, and flowers from the Netherlands to bring romance and joy into their own lives."
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