Reading time: 3 minutes

How can your Brand Utilize Alibaba as a Gateway to Unlocking Growth in China?

Since late last year, Alibaba’s Tmall platform has collaborated with leading global consultancies, including Kantar, to help major brands move faster in key markets like China and brings innovative new product development (NPD) to the forefront of their strategy.

Accelerating digital transformation

At the start of 2019, the A100 Strategic Partnership launched to help key brands accelerate digital transformation. A100 is a package collating all Alibaba ecosystem tools under a single service. Users can select services appropriate to their operations, from retail, workflow management, payment, logistics, Cloud computing, and marketing to on-demand local services. Given this tool kit is aimed at small and medium-sized brands, it level sets the playing field, and should be a wake-up call to any household name brand digitally transforming their business or looking to crack China.

Tmall also debuted a “gateway” discovery portal for new-to-market brands on its Mobile Taobao app, which accompanies other innovations like Hey Box, a product launch accelerator using targeted shopper marketing and selected giveaways, and the truly transformative Tmall Innovation Center (TMIC), which radically boosts the pace of NPD and go-to-market.

Enhanced go-to-market strategies

Alibaba’s Consumer-to-Business (C2B) model is dramatically impacting brand penetration in China. The difference between this and conventional B2C models is the speed with which brands land on the digital and/or physical shelf:

• Digital shopper data analysis allows for faster understanding of consumer sentiment. This facilitates product creation responsive to immediate demand.

• Granular performance tracking lets suppliers determine when peak product performance is reached, meaning focus on particular lines or SKUs can be reduced.

• C2B means significantly compressed product lifecycles, but considerably enhances chances of seller success.

TMIC scours Alibaba’s 600 million user base, dissecting purchasing trends, online reviews and social media interactions to generate insights on nascent trends at category and sector level. It executes market research, sales and data analysis and even product design for partner brands.

Over 500 new products have now launched, many within 6-9 months versus the 18-24 months typical of old-style NPD. Alibaba revealed that 82% of these were top three category sellers. Numerous leading FMCGs are now debuting products across sectors from grocery to beauty to electronics.

Alibaba is an all-encompassing ecosystem, underpinned by data

Alibaba is a data business rather than a retailer, viewing eCommerce as a collaboration between itself and brands and retailers selling via its platforms. These are not just transactional spaces, but digital destinations where consumers are entertained and interact with each other and brands. This generates a feedback loop throughout the ecosystem with new products constantly reviewed, rated and their performance monitored. Alibaba proactively encourages shopper feedback, rewarding shoppers for reviews, sharing content and overall engagement. This social aspect means emerging trends are detected sooner, making it easier to advance-plan NPD to take advantage.


• Understanding the vast, diverse and digital-facing Chinese market can be daunting for non-native brands. Accurately predicting product activation in such a dynamic environment demands consideration of numerous complex factors, each potentially the difference between success or failure. Comprehending how shopper-retailer-brand relationships are evolving is essential.

• Alibaba shoppers leave digital footprints at almost every touchpoint on the path to purchase, all of which are captured. Such data harvesting and analysis is beyond the means of all but the largest digital ecosystem operators. Alibaba’s brand initiatives represent the next stage in collaboration, going beyond shopper data analysis to redefine product lifecycles.

• And China is not the limit for the ambitions of its eCommerce players – expansion in Southeast Asia and India is underway and partner brands can accompany the likes of Alibaba on this ride, maximizing the advantages of data partnerships in high-potential markets only now beginning to explode.

Key Considerations

Is Alibaba part of your customer strategy? Are you utilizing Alibaba as a gateway to China? Are you able to leverage Alibaba’s ecosystem to base decisions on precision data, utilizing AI? Create efficient cross-border capabilities? Develop a smart content strategy? Launch data-empowered performance marketing?

Developing a strategy for Alibaba is essential if you’re to capitalize on the opportunity in China, and truly digital transform business for incremental growth. In partnership with Alibaba, Kantar is ideally positioned to help you achieve this.

We can help you unlock eCommerce Growth

Contact us