With the backing of China's manufacturing prowess in supply chain and labor, home appliances have been one of the earliest industries to venture abroad and attempt globalization.
From traditional white goods manufacturers entering foreign trade in the early years, exporting the "four major appliances" of televisions, refrigerators, washing machines, and air conditioners, to the increasing number of new startups focusing on smart hardware and small appliances and exporting smart wearables, cleaning equipment, and home IoT ecosystems overseas, China's home appliance industry is experiencing a wave of reshuffling and upgrading in its overseas endeavors.
According to the latest data from the General Administration of Customs, China's exports of household appliances exceeded 1.42 billion units from January to May this year, a year-on-year increase of 0.6%, with export revenue reaching USD 36.2 billion. Among them, electric fans, vacuum cleaners, and televisions are the top three categories of exported home appliances. It is worth mentioning that the export volume of washing machines has grown rapidly by 37% compared to the same period last year during the pandemic, which reflects the high dependence of overseas markets on Chinese manufacturing.
In this article, EqualOcean will take three dimensions of white goods, cleaning equipment, and small appliances (kitchen, personal care) to inventory and introduce 14 Chinese home appliance industry brands that have been relatively successful in going global and deeply rooted in local markets.
In most people's minds, Haier's iconic products that launched the company domestically were washing machines and refrigerators. In February 1997, Haier participated in the World Home Appliance Expo held in Cologne, Germany, and issued the first overseas distribution certificate to foreign businessmen, marking Haier's official entry into overseas markets. In 1999, Haier invested in building a factory in the United States. In 2000, it established the Broglio R&D Center in Italy. Since 2005, Haier has entered the "global brand strategy stage" and gradually shifted its focus to localization of overseas markets. In developed countries in Europe and America, due to local mature home appliance markets and local brands, as well as consumers' distrust of Chinese manufacturing, Haier's overseas expansion has been particularly difficult. Therefore, Haier began to acquire overseas local brands, successfully expanding its overseas market further with the help of the acquired brand's team and existing market experience.
In 2011, Haier acquired Sanyo Electric, expanding into the Japanese and Southeast Asian white goods business. In 2012, it acquired controlling stakes in Fisher & Paykel, expanding into the Australian and New Zealand markets. In 2016, it acquired General Electric's home appliance business (GEA) and expanded into the North American market. In 2019, it acquired the Italian brand Candy and entered the European market.
With the dual support of its own brand and overseas high-quality brands, Haier has quickly formed a global strategic layout of multiple brands and categories. Currently, Haier Smart Home's intelligent living solutions brought by Haier, Casarte, Candy, and Hoover have become one of the main factors driving Haier's growth in Europe. The 2022 Haier financial report showed that the market share of its high-end multi-door refrigerators in Europe exceeded 40%, especially in France, where Haier refrigerators have become synonymous with mid-to-high-end refrigerators, and the integration with Amazon Alexa has promoted the implementation of its "Smart Home Cloud" strategy.
Midea's foray into global markets began with the common OEM manufacturing model among home appliance manufacturers in the early years. Midea International President Wang Jianguo introduced in a media interview that Midea's overseas expansion can be roughly divided into three stages: in the early stage, Midea focused on pure product exports, taking advantage of the trend of "reform and opening up"; in the late 1990s, Midea began to appear at ordering fairs in Southeast Asia, providing OEM services to various dealers in Vietnam and other countries; in 2006, starting with the construction of a factory in Vietnam, Midea truly embarked on the exploration of overseas independent brand operations.
In 2010-2011, Midea acquired Egyptian air conditioning company Miraco and U.S.-based Latin American home air conditioning business, Carrier. In 2016, with diversified development, Midea made further moves, acquiring German robot maker Kuka, Italian air conditioning company Clivet, and Toshiba's home appliance business in Japan. In just over a decade, Midea has launched more than ten M&A cases and has been able to rapidly expand its business map through effective asset allocation worldwide.
In 2021, Midea Group divided its business into five major strategic business groups: Smart Home (home appliances), Industrial Technology (home appliances, automobiles, industrial control), Building Technology (building HVAC, elevators, integrated design solutions), Robotics and Automation, and Digital Innovation. Currently, Midea's overseas revenue accounts for more than 40%, and its high-end Smart Home brand COLMO's retail sales increased by 90% in 2022.
In 2006, Hisense set "business focus on overseas" as its strategic goal. For many years, Hisense has always insisted on making high-end products, building R&D centers and manufacturing factories. Hisense has established R&D centers and factories in Europe, Australia, the United States, and other places, and completed localized operations. Hisense's TV and refrigerator products have already taken the top three or even the first place in markets such as South Africa, Japan, Australia, and Mexico. As of now, Hisense has formed a global business map covering more than 160 countries and regions, with 16 industrial parks and 16 R&D centers. In 2022, Hisense's overseas revenue reached RMB 75.7 billion , accounting for 41% of the total revenue, and its own brand accounted for more than 83%. In 2022, the global shipment volume of Hisense's TV, its flagship product, exceeded 24.54 million units, a year-on-year increase of 16.1%, ranking second in the world.
At the same time, Hisense insists on high-end industrialization, early layout of B2B industries, transforms from home appliance to technology companies, and actively expands accurate medical treatment, intelligent transportation, smart cities, optical communication, and other B2B fields, further demonstrating the value of Hisense's global expansion. Currently, Hisense is helping Ethiopia build a smart public transportation project. Hisense ultrasound has entered 11 overseas countries, such as South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and Germany. In June of this year, on the second anniversary of Hisense's acquisition of Japanese car air conditioning supplier Sanhua Holdings, the group clearly stated that it will make automotive electronics one of the second growth curves.
Similarly, Gree started overseas with the OEM manufacturing model, but Gree did not take the acquisition route. Initially, Gree began exporting products to Japan and then started to expand overseas. After conducting on-site investigations in overseas markets, Gree believed that the market space in developed countries was relatively limited, so it chose to develop in developing countries that were relatively easy to enter, and Brazil became the location of Gree's first overseas factory. Entering Brazil became the beginning of Gree's real "brand going overseas", and then it established factories in Pakistan, Vietnam, and other places. Public data shows that in 2021, Gree's global market share of household air conditioners reached 20.2%, and its brand retail sales once again topped the world.
In addition to the global hot sales of household retail products, Gree Electric Appliances has also made efforts in the B-end market, such as winning the bid for the Gwadar Port project in Pakistan, winning the iconic building Yangon Cantaya Center project in Myanmar, becoming the only air conditioning supplier for specific sections of the China-Laos Railway project, and licensing motor patent technology to Danish Grundfos. With the continuous formation of the pattern of both C-end and B-end industries going overseas, Gree Electric Appliances' role as a pioneer of Chinese enterprises going overseas is becoming more and more prominent.
TCL's main products are televisions and mobile phones, and it has experience in semiconductor chip and panel development. On the road to going overseas, TCL chose a strategy of developing both emerging markets and developed countries' markets. In 2001, TCL paid a high price of RMB 10 million to invite Jin Xishan as the spokesperson for its mobile phone products, successfully entering the Vietnamese and Philippine markets. In 2004-2005, after experiencing a "skyrocketing" high-speed development, the TCL-European multimedia company terminated sales and marketing activities other than OEM business, sold non-core businesses such as International Electric and Intelligent Building, and recovered cash flow. At the same time, TCL anchored a technology-first route in China, investing RMB 20 billion to build TCL Huaxing. Currently, its product line covers large-size TV panels and small and medium-sized mobile terminal panels. It has built and under-construction production lines totaling six, with a total investment of approximately RMB 260 billion. Since 2015, TCL has achieved rapid development, basically stabilizing its footing in the European user group and expanding to the US business. It has achieved the second-largest market share in the US.
As of the end of 2022, TCL has a layout in the entire semiconductor chip industry chain, leading the improvement of multiple industry standards, and its patent quantity ranks among the top in the industry. Based on its TV business, TCL has completed the transformation toward deeper technology areas, setting a development benchmark for the entire domestically produced consumer electronics brand going overseas.
Ecovacs, founded in 1998, is one of the world's earliest developers and manufacturers of service robots, with 25 years of deep insights and analysis into service robot usage scenarios and experiences. Since its inception, Ecovacs has successfully launched a complete range of robot service solutions to global markets, including household floor-cleaning robot DEEBOT, window-cleaning robot WINBOT, air purifying robot AIRBOT, and "AI+ service robots" for public areas. As of now, Ecovacs' robot products have covered 145 major countries and regions worldwide. With its active innovation and product experience, Ecovacs achieved a 20.2% year-on-year growth in overseas business revenue in 2022, accounting for 31.8% of its brand's overall revenue. After years of deep cultivation overseas, DEEBOT has occupied over 40% of the market share in China, Australia, and Southeast Asia. WINBOT has reached an 84% market share in the German market. Ecovacs also launched the smart lawn mowing robot GOAT G1 for overseas markets, which was released in Europe in March of this year and has achieved good sales and reputation. In terms of sales volume, Ecovacs robots are now the world's largest floor-cleaning robot brand.
Roborock is a brand under Beijing Roborock Technology Co., Ltd., which was established in 2014 and went public on the A-share Sci-Tech Innovation Board in 2020. It is a leading company in the world's research and development of household smart appliances. Its main business includes the design, development, production, and sales of smart cleaning robots and other intelligent hardware. Currently, Roborock's product line includes smart floor-cleaning robots such as G10S Pure, P10, G20 (flagship), smart floor-washing machines in the A10 series, and washing and drying machines in the H1 series. In terms of overseas expansion, Roborock focuses on developing the US, European, and Southeast Asian markets, and has established overseas companies in countries such as the US, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, and South Korea. It has also opened online brand flagship stores on platforms such as Amazon, Home Depot, Target, Best Buy, and Walmart. Its 2022 financial report shows that overseas market revenue was approximately RMB 3.48 billion, accounting for 52.68%.
Dreame is a new Chinese brand founded in 2017, focusing on the intelligent home appliance industry, with a product line covering floor-cleaning robots, floor-washing machines, wireless vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, and commercial meal delivery robots, achieving full coverage of the household cleaning equipment field. In terms of going overseas, Dreame announced its entry into overseas markets in 2018 and, according to Ipsos data, its products have covered over 100 countries worldwide, including Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia, with key markets including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Russia, and South Korea. In its first year of going overseas, the brand's sales exceeded RMB 500 million, and in 2020, its sales exceeded RMB 2 billion. It is revealed that Dreame's secret to rapid expansion lies in highly localized operations and research and development. For example, for its vacuum cleaner, Dreame equipped each vacuum cleaner with a V-shaped anti-tangling carpet brush for the common practice of carpeted floors in European and American households. For users in South Korea and Japan, who commonly sit on the ground, the Asian version has a soft bristle brush that provides stronger cleaning power for smooth floors.
As a rising brand in the home cleaning and personal care industry, Tineco bears a strong resemblance to Ecovacs right from the very beginning. The reason being that Tineco is the second entrepreneurial project of Qian Dongqi, the founder of Ecovacs. In 2018, at the age of 60, Qian handed Ecovacs over to his son Qian Cheng and shifted his focus to Tineco. Tineco created a new category in the household cleaning field from scratch by introducing floor washing machines and successfully established its brand as a synonym for such machines. After the success of the FLOOR ONE 1.0, Tineco continued to upgrade its core technology and released the FLOOR ONE 2.0 in 2021, which achieved a long-lasting water and electricity supply, and the FLOOR ONE Slim, a 2-in-1 vacuum and floor washing machine. In 2022, Tineco launched the FLOOR ONE 3.0 equipped with a constant water pressure cleaning system, and the FLOOR ONE Station, which represents the future development trend of floor washing machines with its eight-in-one "Space Station" technology. In terms of overseas markets, Tineco opened its Amazon stores in the US, Canada, and Japan in 2019 and later entered the European markets, such as the UK, Germany, and France. Currently, overseas sales account for 30% of its total revenue.
Mijia, a subsidiary of Xiaomi, is a veteran player in the home IoT ecosystem, with years of experience in the home appliance industry. In addition to its large appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, and air conditioners, Mijia also places great importance on its robot vacuum and vacuum cleaner product lines. Mijia's main selling point is its cost-effectiveness, which puts it in a different market segment from brands such as Dreame, Roborock, Ecovacs, and Tineco, which have already established themselves in the high-priced domestic and international markets. By setting up offline stores, official independent websites, and third-party e-commerce channels such as AliExpress, Amazon, and Walmart, Mijia's intelligent cleaning products have entered the overseas market comprehensively. For example, on the official website of Amazon UK, the price of Mijia's robot vacuum ranges from EUR 400 to 800, while the price of its intelligent vacuum cleaner is less than EUR 200 to 400. As a participant in the whole-house intelligence market, Mijia has always been a heavyweight player in the global smart home industry and is now promoting its AIOT strategy worldwide, exporting the power of "Made in China".
Small Appliances (Kitchen and Personal Care)
Shark & Ninja (九阳旗下海外品牌)
Soy milk makers were invented by Joyoung's founder, Wang Xuning. He and several friends founded Shandong Joyoung Small Appliance Co. Ltd., the predecessor of Joyoung. In May 2008, Joyoung went public and within a year, its total market value surpassed billions of yuan, making it a leader in the Chinese small appliance industry. In April 2017, Wang Xuning announced the dissolution of his partnership with three other partners, but he continued to control Joyoung. That same year, Joyoung set its sights on overseas business. Its parent company, Shanghai Lihong, and Dinghui formed a purchasing group, which acquired 70% of the shares of SharkNinja, a wholly-owned subsidiary of overseas small appliance brand. The newly reorganized company, JS Global Living, now holds three internationally renowned small appliance brands: Joyoung, Shark, and Ninja. Shark specializes in cleaning small appliances, including robot vacuums, handheld floor washing machines, and air purifiers, with its independent website domain named "Shark Clean". Ninja focuses on kitchen small appliances such as air fryers, grills, ovens, mixers, and coffee makers, with its domain name "Ninja Kitchen". According to data as of the first quarter of 2022, SharkNinja holds a market share of 34.8% in the US cleaning appliance market and 25% in the cooking appliance market. In the UK, its market share of vacuums and electronic cookers has reached 30.3% and 55%, respectively.
Bear Electric, founded in 2006, is headquartered in Shunde, Guangdong Province, known as the "hometown of Chinese home appliances." It is a small appliance company that focuses on independent brand "Bear" and uses big data from the Internet for creative small appliance research and development, design, production, and sales. It deeply integrates product sales channels with the Internet. On August 23, 2019, the company was listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. As one of the earliest small appliance companies to start with e-commerce, Bear Electric took its first step in going overseas through original design manufacturing (ODM). In November 2020, Bear Electric established Guangdong Bear E-commerce Co., Ltd. to engage in cross-border e-commerce business. So far, Bear Electric has entered multiple cross-border e-commerce platforms in Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea, Germany, and the United States, working together to cultivate overseas business. In terms of overseas channels, Bear Electric has entered the Southeast Asian e-commerce platform Lazada and provided professional online training to agents. It has cooperated with Korean customers for TV shopping and achieved good development. It has also cooperated with German customers for online sales on Amazon Germany, with its yogurt maker ranking first in its category on the platform. In addition, Bear Electric also conducts live streaming sales through Tiktok.
Laifen is a new generation of Chinese brand that focuses on the research and development, production, and manufacturing of high-speed hair dryers. It was founded in 2019 and is headquartered in Dongguan, Guangdong Province. It is committed to innovating people's hair drying experience through technological innovation. Its current product line includes two high-speed brushless hair dryers, LF03 and SE, priced at RMB 699 and 399 , respectively. With its excellent industrial design, product quality, and high cost-effectiveness, it quickly became the top brand in the personal care category of domestic e-commerce channels, also known as "the domestic substitute for Dyson". In overseas markets, Laifen is rapidly gaining ground among young consumers with similar consumption habits in Southeast Asia. Through localized operation strategies, Laifen entered the Top list of cross-border hair dryer subcategories on Lazada within an hour of the start of the Double 12 sale in 2022, achieving an impressive record of GMV explosion overseas during the Double 12 event. In addition, at the Berlin International Consumer Electronics Fair in September 2022, Laifen showcased the above two high-speed hair dryers, attracting many users and partners. This appearance also shows Laifen's ambition to go global, including European and American markets.
TYMO, founded in 2019, is an overseas personal care small appliance brand. The company is positioned as a global Fashiontech brand, entering the personal care market from the hair styling small appliance field, providing quality personal care tools for middle-class women. TYMO's first-generation product, the straightening brush, innovatively combines the functions of a straightening iron and a comb. Currently, its product line includes several main product series such as straightening, curling, hot air brush, and high-speed hair dryer. TYMO's first entry into the overseas market was the US market, with sales of nearly RMB 20 millionin the first year. In 2020, TYMO's revenue increased fourfold. On the Amazon platform, TYMO broke into the top 50 of personal care brand sales and won the best-selling champion in the hair styling comb category. When overseas media recommends hair styling products, TYMO is often on the list. In July of this year, TYMO announced the completion of tens of millions of yuan in Series A financing, led by Calor Capital (康煦投资), with continued investment from its previous shareholder, 01VC (零一创投), and also receiving support from relevant cross-border industry partners.