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Home appliance makers eye bigger global reach

By FAN FEIFEI | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-17 09:57
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A visitor checks out products of Bear Electric Appliance Co Ltd during an expo in Shanghai on May 12. [Photo/China Daily]

Chinese small home appliance makers are accelerating steps to expand their footprint in emerging overseas markets and increasing investment in localized research and development as part of a broader push to bolster sales globally and enhance international influence and brand recognition, industry experts said.

Homegrown small appliances — such as coffee makers, air fryers, humidifiers and robotic vacuum cleaners — are increasingly gaining traction among overseas consumers, who are paying greater attention to quality of life, personal health and food safety.

Data from the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products showed that exports of Chinese small kitchen appliances increased by 14.3 percent year-on-year in 2023.

Bear Electric Appliance Co Ltd, a maker of small home appliances based in Foshan, Guangdong province, said sales revenue from overseas markets surged 105.66 percent year-on-year in 2023 to 370 million yuan ($51.1 million). Its self-owned brand products are mainly sold in Southeast Asia, Europe and the United States.

The company, founded in 2006, has developed and produced a series of creative electrical appliances, including yogurt makers, egg boilers, crock pots and steamers to entice young consumers.

Li Yifeng, chairman and general manager of Bear Electric, said, "In the past, our overseas business mainly focused on the original design manufacturer model, but now we are stepping up efforts to promote our self-owned brands to go global and develop the cross-border e-commerce business."

Currently, overseas sales only account for a relatively small proportion of the company's total revenue, Li said, adding that the company will continue to build up brand recognition overseas, intensify promotional efforts, expand retail channels and bolster global operational capacity.

Guangdong Xinbao Electrical Appliances Holdings Co Ltd said more than 70 percent of its revenue is from overseas consumers from more than 120 countries and regions across the globe, including Europe and the US.

Guo Jiangang, chairman of Xinbao, said demand for small home appliances from overseas markets was strong in the first quarter, adding that the company's overseas sales reached 2.57 billion yuan during the January-March period, up about 30 percent year-on-year.

Based in Shunde, Guangdong province, Xinbao specializes in designing and manufacturing small home appliances such as electric kettles, blenders, toasters and coffee makers. The company is also expanding its footprint in emerging markets, such as Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Xinbao set up its first overseas factory in Indonesia last year, and plans to tap more opportunities from countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative. It has ramped up the push to enhance operational capabilities through continuous technological innovation and expanding its portfolio of new products globally.

The domestic home appliance market is almost saturated and companies need to find new growth drivers, said Liang Zhenpeng, an independent consumer electronics analyst.

"Expansion into overseas markets could not only relieve the pressure of high inventories in the domestic market, but also increase the international influence of Chinese home appliance brands," Liang said.

Establishing global production bases will not only bring China's advanced manufacturing, R&D as well as management capabilities to overseas markets, but also create job opportunities for locals and enhance the competitiveness of Chinese enterprises in the global market, he added.

Pan Jun, a visiting professor at Donghua University in Shanghai, said the demand for small household appliance products in different countries varies due to people's different living habits and culinary traditions.

Pan said Chinese home appliance makers should capture the changes in consumption trends, attach great importance to products' R&D, and pour more resources into technological innovation in order to enhance the core competitiveness of enterprises on the global stage.

The rise in overseas orders of such appliances has also reflected the robust recovery of China's economy, and the country's home appliance sector is picking up growth momentum, industry experts said.

China has become the world's largest manufacturing base for home appliances, accounting for 60 to 70 percent of global production capacity, said Li Ting, research director of the kitchen appliances department at Beijing-based market consultancy All View Cloud.

Overseas consumers have shown growing demand for China-made diversified, personalized and customized home appliances and are keen on buying intelligent and high-quality goods, Li said, adding she is bullish on prospects for Chinese home appliance makers in the future.

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