folder Filed in Branding tips, Domain tips
A Lucky Year for Chinese Brands
Kristina Misic access_time 7 min read

A New Chinese Year is here, and we are using it as an excuse to take a deeper look at Chinese brands and e-commerce trends.

With a population of 1.4 billion, and reportedly 710 million people shopping online, it is no surprise that China is the leader of e-commerce activity in the world. It has some of the largest e-commerce platforms in the world, the biggest number of mobile users, a burgeoning middle class, and hundreds of millions of potential consumers who have not yet made their first online purchase.

In 2020, the country generated US$1.7 trillion in sales, according to a report from JP Morgan. Meanwhile, Chinese brands also had an impressive performance, taking advantage of the emergence of online shopping during the pandemic. The overall brand value of Chinese brands in the Brand Finance Global 500 ranking was US$1.5 trillion, representing about 20.8%.

Facts and trends propelling e-commerce activities in China

  • China has some of the largest marketplaces in the world, and most of the online shopping activity is done on these platforms. Three of the top 5 global e-commerce marketplaces are based in China: Taobao, Tmall, and JD.com. Taobao and Tmall are owned by Alibaba.
  • For Chinese consumers, all e-commerce activity is done on mobile devices, using apps. Mobile transactions account for 60% of the total e-commerce market,15 so retailers need to be smartphone-ready and accessible,
  • Chinese consumers expect and are used to getting immediate responses from customer service departments, they deal directly with brands, or even factories, and these interactions influence their customer journey.
  • The Chinese consumers also have great expectations regarding their shopping experience. Same-day delivery, coupons, special offers, and a gift are a given for them, shoppers need to feel they are getting good deals.
  • 76% of online shoppers are between the ages of 18 and 44. Yet, 56% of its population has not made its first online purchase. This is a colossal potential audience for brands looking for new customers.
  • E-commerce accounts for 29% of the total retail sales of the country. There is still room to grow.
  • Mobile payments are the preferred method, with 98% of consumers using them daily. From those, 85% make payments using QR codes. Most of the consumers do not carry or use cash. Credit cards are used 2 out of 10 times.
  • Livestreaming is becoming a huge trend in terms of e-commerce. Merchants, influencers (known as Key Opinion Leaders, or KOLs), and brands use live streaming events to promote their products and services.
  • This year, e-commerce in China is projected to grow by 12.8 percent year-over-year and hit a volume of $1.26 trillion.
  • The biggest online shopping events in China include the Chinese New Year, the Golden Week in October, and Singles’ Day on 11 November. In 2020, e-commerce companies Alibaba and JD.com gained $115 billion in revenue across their platforms and set new records.

Which Are Some of the Most Valuable Chinese Brands and What is Their Domain History?

In 2019, a report from the Kantar Group ranked 100 Chinese brands according to their value. From banks to telecommunication and technology, to e-commerce, these are some of the most remarkable:

1. JD.com

With a brand value of $21.18 billion. JD.com sits at the tenth position of the ranking. In 2020, the company announced it had gained 100 million new active users, and sales profit increased up to 29%, reaching $25.7 billion only in the third quarter of 2020.

The domain JD.com was first acquired in 1992 by Alexander Lerman and sold in 2012 to the company Beijing Jingdong 360 Du E-commerce for about 5 million dollars. This same company also owns 88 additional domains according to WHO.is. Those five million have certainly paid off for the brand.

2 . China Construction Bank

One of the strongest and most respected brands in China, with a long-standing reputation dating from 1954. The Chinese Construction Bank had an estimated brand value of $22.84 billion in 2019. The domain was first purchased in 1995, and in 2006, the company announced that it would use it as its international top-level domain name, indicating that they understood the importance of building a strong brand image with a domain that was easy and simple to remember.

3. Huawei

The telecommunications giant stacked up a brand value of $33.17 billion in 2019. The Huawei.com domain was first registered in January 2000. A peek from Way Back Machine from that very same year shows a rather simple page from the company, described as a network solutions provider. From those humble beginnings to today, Huawei is a brand that has worked hard to develop its awareness and reputation.

4. Moutai

Owned by Kweichow Moutai Co., the liquor company saw its market value increase more than a half-trillion dollars just a few days ago, with its shares doubling up in the past year. Curiously, the brand uses the domain moutaichina.com, acquired in 1999, but the domain moutai.com, which could significantly benefit the brand, was registered in the United States in 2003, even after the acquisition of its current domain.

5. Alibaba

The biggest Chinese brand, with a whooping brand value of $141 billion, is Alibaba, one of the biggest retailers and e-commerce companies. Established in 1999, from its beginning the brand has always owned the EBM domain name. Alibaba has also established successful subsidiaries, Taobao (C2C), and Tmall (B2C), which got their brand value skyrocketed in 2020 due to the pandemic, thanks to a successful online business model that emphasizes offering convenience and accessibility to their customers.

Alibaba also shattered a sales record on Singles’Day by expanding its sales for eleven consecutive days, which got a total gross merchandise value (GMV) of $74.1 billion, almost twice the amount of 2019.

Curious fact: Did you know that if you type 1688.com, you will access the Alibaba website?

This is a common practice in China. Being the biggest country in the world, China is a place with many languages, but no alphabet. For Chinese people, it is easier to identify numbers than letters, that is why they use them in their domain names, their email addresses, and their chat services.

But the ease of use and memorability is only part of the reason why Chinese people are so keen to use numbers on websites. The other reason is that the words for numbers are homophones for other words. Many words sound alike in Chinese, and the words for numbers also have this peculiarity.

For example, when pronouncing 1688.com (The Alibaba domain), the Chinese sound is “yow-leeyoh-ba-ba”, which is pretty close to the actual name.

According to the page China Checkup, other common sound associations of word and names are:

As you can see, some of these combinations could result in rather undesirable matches, like 14 (going to die), while 13 could be considered positive (going to live/be born).

Another tendency preferred by the Chinese is to use the .com extension over the .cn (86% over 13%) for their websites. They also prefer short domains of 10 characters or less, including the extension.

These are fascinating facts that brands and businesses should study and consider if they are contemplating expanding to the Chinese market.


We hope the above information will help you in making informed decisions about your brand. If you want to say hi or have any questions about naming, branding, and domain names get in touch, we’re always happy to hear from you.

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