Ann Bierbower
Ann Bierbower
22 May 2015 0 Comments

News about Alibaba usually centers around its mind-boggling sales and growth.  But some of the best work that Alibaba does goes unnoticed by most, and spans far wider than online shopping.  Alibaba is an active champion of projects supporting and empowering women, the environment and often persecuted groups such as homosexuals.  This week Alibaba’s inaugural Global Conference on Women and Entrepreneurship is just one example, showcasing women’s work and power in China and also highlighting environmentally friendly companies such as Jessica Alba’s “The Honest Company”.

In looking to enter the China market The Honest Company’s adage rings true for mothers around the world in that “Chinese mothers, like American mothers want the best for their family”.  The U.S. positioning of the company is suitable for the China market but the company is aware that one mother is not the same as another.  The Honest Company is taking things slowly when it comes to China, taking a wise approach of completing market research to understand the Chinese market and how it can best localise its positiong to differentiate from other green brands and resonate with consumers.

The now blocked documentary touching on China’s pollution problems, Under the Dome, has helped make the Chinese public more aware of China’s environmental problems.  59% of Chinese consumers now consider environmental quality important when buying food and beverages, contributing to the rising demand for imported food.  China’s pollution is impacting purchase behaviour far beyond food and beverage in China, driving more to travel, study and move abroad.

Another lesser known intiative lead by Jack Ma, is using soaring smartphone use to aide the environment.  He is hoping to harness the power of China’s half billion smartphone users to raise awareness of China’s water pollution.  Alibaba aims to indentify areas where polluted water needs attention, locate clean water and engage the public while raising their awareness of pollution issues.

As consumers become more conscious of China’s grim pollution situation they are making a stand with their wallets, creating opportunities for green, responsible orginisations similar to The Honest Company.  But as seen by Tesla’s rocky entry into China, just being green is not enough.  Even if brands are socially responsible, understanding what Chinese consumers value and their actual habits is vital to assessing opportunities for your brand in China.  China Skinny has assisted a number of companies entering and expanding in the Mainland to identifiy potential opportunities and understand the customer journey.

Alibaba is not just a champion for healthier, environmentally friendly brands, but it is also pioneering an overall corporate social responsibility in China, while balancing the dynamic, competitive and often politically difficult marketplace.  We applaud that.