Driving Growth on China’s Digital Highway: In Conversation with Ariel Tang, VP Sales & Marketing at Aventura
August 13, 2021

As VP Sales & Marketing at Aventura, Ariel Tang leads the company’s pivotal growth engine in the consumer sector. Born in Taiwan, raised in Shanghai, educated in the US and over the years having delved into the fast-paced digital landscape in China, Ariel describes her role at Aventura as “growth enabler”.

August 13, 2021 – I was born in Taiwan and moved to Shanghai when I was ten. Growing up, my family and I moved frequently so my early childhood molded me into someone who enjoys changes and adapts well to new environments.

I studied Communications with a focus on Public Relations at the University of Washington. Back then, I already began to witness the rising trend of digitization in the marketing and advertising sectors. I started my career at Nordstrom’s headquarters, supporting the group’s new web-based e-commerce DBMS for its Canada expansion. Then at Ogilvy, I focused on brand strategy and digital marketing.

In 2017 with the desire to engage in China’s rapidly growing e-commerce industry, I came back to Shanghai and joined a five-star Tmall Partner agency. At the TP agency, I helped launch foreign brands and build China market entry on both strategical and operational levels. It was not an easy journey as the cross-border concept was still fairly new, and there weren’t many precedent cases to refer to. We had to get our hands dirty, as the only way to learn was by trial-and-error. It taught me how to be extremely adaptable and to generate growth in situations where certainties do not exist – skills I am still applying every day.


Trust is the key.

My daily agenda is mainly divided into two parts: client/team management and business development. For me, the key to excel at both is the same – trust.

Our team has over 25 professionals with expertise in different fields such as brand management, e-commerce operations, digital marketing, content production, and customer services: young talents who are sharp at detecting the newest market trends. I try to cultivate an open working culture with transparent communication and respect to deliver goal-oriented collaborations. When it comes to team development, I see myself more as a “mentor” instead of “the boss”.

When it comes to working with clients, trust is equally as important if not more. The way I build trust with our clients is very similar – by trying to put myself in their shoes and present an honest, clear plan that delivers steady growth as a result. Trust enables true partnership, where our international clients appreciate our local expertise and where together we are able to develop a tailor-made China entry strategy that best serves their brands and products.


Want to win the market? Win over the young consumers.

The total population of Chinese millennials and Generation Z is now around 550 million, making up the largest emerging consumer groups in the country. It is crucial for international brands to understand their shopping behavior and mentality.

The younger generation sees consumption as a way to enhance and enjoy life. They care about fun experiences; they like to seek new things and they are passionate about sharing their values and beliefs. We see a great potential in premium brands that can offer high quality products with a unique market positioning. In the beauty and personal care sectors for example, “clean beauty” with vegan and organic product offerings that comes with claims such as “simplicity” “fewer ingredients” and “free-form” are becoming increasingly trendy, as consumers now pay more attention to safety and sustainability issues, especially after COVID-19. In the home/lifestyle sector, we also see emerging players with innovative home products with smart functions such as fridge for cosmetics, automatic cat litter box and self-heating hotpot. Products that focus on health/wellness are also getting popular.

Also, social factors weigh heavily on the younger generation’s purchasing decisions. We help international brands define clear brand positioning for the China market and develop an integrated digital marketing strategy utilizing on-brand KOL, co-branding collaborations and IP resources to create strong brand equity.

That is not to say that brands should put all efforts in chasing the trend or scatter ads on all types of social media platforms. In the end, it is the brand’s DNA and products that sustain brand loyalty. Staying true to the brand vision, keeping consistency with brand messaging on all platforms to reach the right target audience are indispensable practices for brands’ success.


China market entry: make smart and determined moves.

China presents huge business opportunities to the globe, however, the threshold for success in the market has also been heightened over the years. I would recommend any brand who aims to crack the China market to do solid research before making an investment.

Once the market entry decision has been made, be prepared for a long-term battle. The evolving China market requires brands to be innovative, adaptive and very determined at the same time.

Good news is that we are seeing encouraging policies to further expand the cross-border business in China. The southern province of Hainan is spearheading the country’s duty-free market as the entire island could become a zero-tariff region after 2025, making it the paradise for tourism and luxury retail. Big e-commerce platforms are building stronger logistics networks and fulfillment centers to support foreign brands to seize these opportunities.


What are your plans next?

We are thrilled to launch some new Tmall Global stores this summer and bring more unique international brands to local consumers – very exciting part of my job indeed.

And personally? My daily yoga routines, weekly Muay Thai training, and spontaneous weekend getaway trips! Nature and sports are my go-to methods for stress-relief and to maintain a healthy work-life balance to cope with the fast-paced e-commerce world.

About Aventura

Aventura is a Brand & E-commerce Accelerator that drives growth for both category leaders and niche international DTC brands in the China consumer market.  With decade-long brand building experience, we offer brand owners a holistic one-stop-shop growth solution that includes Brand Management, Channel Management, E-commerce Operations (TP), Logistics, Marketing & Branding and Consumer Intelligence & Analytics services.  We work with brands in diverse categories including Fashion & Accessories, Beauty & Skincare, Health & Wellness and Home.

Aventura is based in Shanghai with satellite offices in Hong Kong and Stockholm.


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