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Cross-border sales growing among brand focused shoppers, ESW research reveals


Countries indexing highest on brand affinity scores reported increased cross-border sales in the latter half of last year, a new study has found.

According to ESW’s brand affinity tracker, high affinity markets all reported increased rates of cross-border purchasing from July to December 2022 across four tracked product categories – clothing, footwear, luxury and cosmetics. The direct-to-consumer solutions provider added this was despite global economic headwinds.

Informed by research from more than 16,000 consumers across sixteen countries, the study revealed that total international online purchasing by consumers in the UAE increased the most at +12%, followed by South Africa +8%, China +7%, India +3% and Mexico +2%.

ESW’s tracker average brand score was 3.1, with the UK falling below

The research revealed that China, the UAE, India, Mexico and South Africa scored the highest levels of brand rapport across five markers, including emotional connection, engagement, relevance, and purchasing benefits.

Overall, global cross-border shoppers have a +13% brand score and +4% above average spend level, highlighting the importance of a robust direct-to-consumer international strategy, explained Martim Avillez Oliveira, chief executive officer, ESW – Europe and UK.

He said: “While the temptation amongst European retailers may be to assume domestic trading conditions prevail across all markets, our data shows areas of opportunity exist despite ongoing economic headwinds and inflationary challenges. Cross-border online sales amongst discerning, highly brand focused shoppers in some of the highest value economies around the world continue to grow.

“The key to capitalising on this demand is having the capacity and agility to activate quickly into these growth markets using hyper-localised insights around channel strategy, demand generation, product assortment and pricing. For those brands that don’t have the digital capabilities, expertise or capital required to fully leverage direct to consumer opportunities, ESW offers a seamless end-to-end solution that helps brands capitalise unlock this demand.”

The tracker also aimed to create a map of global demand for brands looking for international growth opportunities in 2023.

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