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8 takeaways from the 2015 Great British Brands Festivals in China

BritCham / CBBC
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CBBC’s third annual Great British Brands Festival series took us and some of Britain’s finest brands to eight cities over eight months in 2015.
Here are eight success stories and reasons for British retailers to look forward to more next year.
1. British brands only
All of the 49 brands which were involved over the year were manufactured or designed in the UK. If yours is too, you’re eligible to join us. It’s an excellent way to associate your brand with everything Chinese people admire about the UK.
2. Comprehensive China coverage
We rocketed this year from three to eight locations, from way out west to the far north-east and all across the south, including numerous underexplored second-tier markets as well as the main hubs. This was great for brand awareness and for UK partnerships with local governments and businesses.
3. Strong government support
The China Investment Promotion Agency, part of the Ministry of Commerce (Mofcom), was our nationwide partner for this year’s festivals. The series was also keenly supported by UK Trade & Investment. Senior UK and Chinese government representatives lent their support at festivals across the country.
4. Forum-and-festival format
Apart from the B2C sales exhibitions, we also organised industry forums in Changsha, Chengdu and Guangzhou for British retailers to build B2B connections alongside the festivals. UK attendees networked with Chinese retail experts and met local distributors, handlers and other potential partners.
5. Media exposure
It’s been a good year for UK-China relations, and media interest was high in the cities we went to, with regional outlets interviewing UK retailers and reporting on the brands.
In Changsha, Hunan TV, China’s second most-watched television station (behind CCTV 1), agreed to film two special UK-themed programmes. Yue Tao Yue Kaixin and Tian Tian Xiang Shang, household names among young people across China, filmed at the festival and some of the British products were presented as gifts to guests and audience members. 
6. Partnership with top e-commerce platform
We collaborated with Alibaba to organise an exclusive UK sales promotion on its Juhuasuan platform for three days in August. Brands which had participated in our brands festivals were offered a place to sell on Juhuasuan without extra fees. Fifteen brands took RMB 3.5 million in direct sales, plus almost RMB 1 million more in related sales from through traffic.
7. UK export boost
Total sales revenue for the eight offline festivals and our associated online promotion with Juhuasuan exceeded RMB 12.5 million. The series helped British retailers export more fashionwear, homeware, food and drink, household products and even cars to markets across China – and to build regional consumer bases for the future.
8. More to come in 2016!
Our focus in 2015 was on helping more British brands access the many under-explored second-tier markets around China, where consumer demand continues to soar and mature, whilst keeping up momentum in the major hubs such as Beijing, Chengdu and Guangzhou. 
In 2016, we will build on what we have learned offline and online to make sure the festival gives more retailers, of all shapes and sizes, access to the right markets, channels and partners. We are also looking into extending the festival to other cities, with Fuzhou pencilled in as one new venue.
For more information about the festival and how to get involved next year, please contact:
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