UMS Morning Brief monthly overview – February

Morning brief is a daily email publication that reports on the latest insights and what topics beening discussed most in China’s market. The Morning Brief provides a broad reference in four different industries that specific for Australia and New Zealand business: education, travel, food and beverage, and health and wellness. It enables brands to make proactive strategic decisions. Let’s take a look at some of the themes that were highlighted in February’s publications.



Almost a year on from Australia’s first Covid-19 case, the country has finally initiated their vaccine program, although the possibility for international students to return to study remains slim.

The nation, once a preferred destination of overseas education, seems to be falling out of favour with international students due to strict immigration controls. Director of China Education Association for International Exchange said that “recent attacks on Chinese international students and tensions between the two countries has made the overall social environment unsafe”. In addition, the National Education Work Conference made it clear that it would establish “a policy that does not encourage or promote study abroad at an early age”, due to the risks highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite these issues, a recent study indicates that a large number of international students wish to return to Australia to study, and many have simply put their plans on hold during the pandemic. found that in 2021, Australia ranked 2nd in overseas education behind Canada.



While the international tourism industry largely remains at a stand-still, developments in technology have been prioritised to activate the industry’s recovery. Orbus Diagnostics and French company IDEMIA have been working together to develop a new technology which enables tourists to be tested at the airport and get their results in 15minutes. Vaccine passports have also been a hot topic of debate with supporters believing it will kickstart the recovery of the economy, while critics claim their implementation is premature. However, the concept gained traction through the end of February and Air New Zealand announced it would be trailing the digital travel pass from April. Developed by IATA, the organisation plans to launch the pass on its Auckland to Sydney route, providing the government with greater confidence in reopening the boarder and allowing tourists to travel.

Chinese New Year, which usually causes the greatest human migration in the world, took place from the 11th – 26th February, and unsurprisingly, fewer Chinese travelled compared to recent years. Although the pandemic is somewhat controlled in China, many expressed concerns for the unstable situation overseas and decided to remain in country.


Food and beverage

The Chinese New Year holiday saw export sales boom, in the first six days of the festival, online retail sales nationwide exceeded 120 billion yuan. During the new year, the sales of imported alcohol, chocolate and fashion accessories increased by 10, 3.3 and 4.2 times respectively and fruit, particularly pineapple and bananas, were popular exports.

China’s pet food market was a highly discussed topic in the food and beverage industry, and the competition is growing fierce. Although Mars, Purina and Hills dominate the global pet food market, they only hold 31.10% market share. There are many foreign brands seeking opportunities in China’s market, with an emphasis on the finest and natural ingredients. This is in line with a consumer trend that is seeing an increase in the number of pet owners that want to provide their animals with a high quality of living.


Health and wellness

Consumer’s focus on health continues to drive the growth of the wellness and beauty industry, a trend that was largely influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is expected in 2021 that China’s health care products market will increase to 270.8 billion yuan, with brands focusing their energy on creating products that contain the latest health ingredients. In hand with this, we are seeing tremendous growth in sustainable beauty products, Avon recently announced its first “green” skincare set to much fanfare which contains ingredients that are 85% natural or safely synthesized.

Due to an increased use of masks in 2021, lipstick sales have dropped by about 40%, prompting brands to create lip products that are said to last throughout mask use. The online makeup market continues to grow in China, and a new trend has emerged which sees consumers use a product before committing to payment. A store trailing this concept saw sales 4.6 higher than traditional stores in the same location.

So, there you have it, an overview of just some of the major topics which were discussed during February in China. If you’re interest in receiving our Morning Brief e-mail publication, contact us (, and remember, if you need to talk to China, talk with us.