China represents the most dynamic opportunity to increase wool consumption at the luxury/high end of the market. Consumer research shows definite potential among 20 million plus consumers of luxury goods in key cities, but with a need for a significant investment in education, and in partnering global brands.

Market size

  • There are more than 800 cities in China, of which more than 200 cities have a population above 1 million (while in Europe there are only 35 cities with a population above 1 million). Moreover, there are hundreds of cities in China with a population of more than 100,000.
  • 1st Tier Cities are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Tianjin. 2nd Tier Cities are regional capital cities like Nanjing, Wuhan, Shenyang, Xi’An, Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Dalian and Ninbo.
  • The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in China was worth 9240.27 billion US dollars in 2013, an all-time record high for the country. The GDP value of China represents 14.90 per cent of the world economy.


  • Total Chinese clothing retail value was $US 196.3 billion in 2011 with 14.4 billion in children’s clothing, 63.9 billion in men’s clothing and 89.3 billion in women’s clothing. Total clothing retail value is forecast to grow at 12.4% year on year into 2016.


  • Purchase trends – in-store versus online. In 2011 online retailing value increased by 177.8%, however in relation to distribution market share, online retailing is still insignificant compared to store base retail at 97.5% market share in 2011. However, online purchasing is becoming increasingly common for the younger demographic. 
  • In luxury goods, online and overseas purchase of high-value goods are now more prevalent based on the luxury taxes imposed and the concern about authenticity of goods.

Opportunity for wool

  • Strategically, wool needs to be positioned in the premium space and urban segments. China offers significant potential at this time. Pure wool is very appealing and its image as a quality, valued and premium product has grown in recent years.
  • Like other countries, fit and feel are important in clothes choice. Chinese consumers are label conscious and image is important. That said, fabric is relevant to apparel choice for Chinese urban consumers, especially for next-to-skin apparel.
  • Wool has potential to leverage its arguably innate qualities and is seen by Chinese consumers as a luxury, premium product.
  • Chinese consumers will often have a preference for natural fibres and the environmental impact and sustainability of fabrics is relevant to them when considering clothes purchases. Without being core drivers of choice these will offer some scope for differentiation.
  • Research shows that leveraging the Australian origin of fine wools has a positive impact on consumer purchase intent.