April 26, 2018

Danish values and products - What is interesting to Chinese consumers

During the next blog sessions, we are going to talk to experts and interesting profiles which all have the same in common: They have China on their agenda in a lesser or higher degree.

In this blog we will ask Philip Wenzel Kyhl a couple of questions about Chinese consumers’ interest in Danish products and their values. Philip has been working with China and tourism since 2007. 9 years in China has given him a unique background for understanding the Chinese outbound travelers and their expectations and peculiarities compared to a western traveler. Insights that were put to good use when he returned to Scandinavia to build a China Ready programme for Scandinavian destinations. A programme that in 2016 was recognized by the European Travel Commission as Best Practice. Until recently he has been responsible for the Nordic cooperation project, Chinavia, based in Copenhagen and focused on attracting Chinese tourism to the Nordics.

Philip now works as an independent consultant that helps Nordic destinations and businesses reach their potential in the Chinese market.

From a consumer’s perspective, which Danish values ​​do Chinese consumers find interesting?

Chinese consumers used to find the Nordic combination of exclusive products and simple design quite puzzling. However, it is gradually changing, and today many Chinese consumers pay attention to the choice of materials and design as well as the story behind the brand. If you take a stroll around one of the big cities in China, you will notice that Scandinavian design is gathering momentum and is becoming quite noticeable. This is especially visible in the design of shops and in interior decoration in restaurants. The simple design in Denmark normally goes hand in hand with good-quality materials, which is also an important factor when brands sell their products to the Chinese market.

Many Chinese consumers consider ”Made in Denmark” as a guarantee for quality, which to some extent also can be seen in the studies of Chinese tourists in Denmark, who like to mention positive words like “pure”, “nature” and similar words when asked about their impressions of Denmark. It is particularly interesting for the food industry which has recently gained some new opportunities in the Chinese market. That consumers already have a positive opinion of the product as soon as consumers know that the product is Danish is a huge advantage for Danish products.

Which products do the Chinese consumer find most interesting and why?

The Chinese consumers are interested in many Danish products; food & health, toys, fashion brands and of course design products. Again, the key is stylish design and quality. In this context, quality is also to be understood in a broader sense, which also includes food safety. An example of this is Arla who have benefited greatly from the milk powder scandal in 2008.

I would love to see more products branded as “Danish produced” in China. On one of the most purchased chewing gum brands, for years there was written something like “made by Danish-produced machines” on its label front. The ingredients of the product itself have no connection to Denmark. However, people apparently considered Denmark as such a strong brand that they put our country’s name on the front of the product simply because they are made on equipment imported from Denmark.

Is there any relationship between Chinese tourists visiting Denmark, where one can say that their visit results in growing sales of Danish products in China on cross-border platforms?

There is no doubt that there is a high demand for foreign products in China. Yet, it is difficult to say exactly how much a visit to Denmark boosts the sale of Danish products in China. However, Copenhagen Business School is leading a new research project, which will among other things clarify how a visit to Denmark can make the Chinese more receptive of buying Danish products after returning back to China. The research project will end in 2020. You can read more at UMAMI – http://sf.cbs.dk/umami/objectives about this project.

Even without having data on it, I am yet convinced that foreign travel will to a certain extent affect the returned consumer. Traveling is a social statement that you would like to talk about. It “gives face” and you increase your social capital by appearing well-travelled. Consuming Danish products after returning home from a trip, therefore, gives the consumer an opportunity to mention his or her travel experiences abroad.