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In backlash against foreign brands, Chinese consumers pick local

He Shuang, a student at a US university stranded in her home city of Chongqing in southwest China during the pandemic, has added more than 300 domestic brands to her list of favourites on Alibaba’s Taobao online mall.

Like with He, Chinese brands are hot with most shoppers and have spurred billions of dollars in investment, as consumers increasingly make patriotic choices amid a growing backlash against foreign brands in the country.

A surge in online shopping after people were forced indoors due to COVID-19 last year, a recovery in the market since then, and infrastructure that allows vendors to scale up swiftly have also propelled demand for local brands.

“Once you try, you find the quality of local products is as good as foreign products,” said the 19-year old He, who favours home-grown labels from Carslan eye shadows and Feiyue sneakers to Bestore Co snacks and Miniso homeware.

Maia Active, a Sequoia Capital-backed athleisure wear maker, said its products were designed based on body measurements of Asian women and, therefore, offered local customers a better fit and more comfort than western counterparts.

New capital

In lockstep with demand, investors, too, have been pouring funds into local consumer brands this year.

Chinese consumer firms raised 69.7 billion yuan ($11bn) from primary market investors in the first five months, more than double the year-earlier amount, according to Cygnus Equity, a Chinese boutique investment bank.

“Beauty products, food and beverage brands are the most popular. Recently, hotpot and ramen brands are particularly coveted,” said Ming Jin, managing partner at Cygnus.

Up to 200 brands are currently seeking new capital from investors, bankers and investors said.

“China is the easiest market for building something from zero to a 100-million-yuan sales target,” a private equity investor in tea chain operator Nayuki said, declining to be named as he was not authorised to speak to media.


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