It feels like the concept of a "developing market" but a developing market implies a foreign market but 下沉市场 is a part of domestic market.

Unlike "low end market", 下沉市场 in addition has a strong geographical implication towards the rural area.

What's a good English word of this "a market for low price goods in rural areas" concept?

4 Answers 4


市场 here refers to 消费市场 (consumer Market)

下沉市场 (downward reaching consumer Market) refers to the expanding market (from the city area with high population density and high-income population) to the rural areas (with low population density and low-income population but much larger area)

From Google

所谓下沉市场,通常是指三线以下城市、县镇与农村地区的市场。 其覆盖的人口规模和消费规模很大,社会消费品零售额、网购市场规模、移动支付金额等增长迅速,在我国消费大盘中的地位和作用日益突出。

Looking at this page we can see 下沉市场 includes many characteristics, not easy to use one word to cover them all

I would call 下沉市场 "downward reaching (Consumer) Market" or simply "Rural Areas (Consumer) Market"

When the high-profit markets are saturated, businesses need to expand down to the low-profit markets, that is why they call it a 下沉

  • Now I got where you coming from, but I still feel the explanation does not fit the meaning of the phrase. In a sense, "下求市场" would be more precise in describing the phenomenon - high competitive cities go down(下) the rungs(rakings) to the less developed rural area seeking(求) cheap labor, and resulting in prosperous (rising) of the underdeveloped areas. The English equivalent should be "secondary/disadvantaged (labor) market".
    – r13
    May 20, 2022 at 22:35
  • This makes me rethink about the term "市场". It's more of a market segment rather than a market. We might as well just call it "lower segment"? May 21, 2022 at 2:48
  • 1
    @r13 read the first sentence of my answer-- 市场 here refers to 消费市场 (consumer Market) not 劳动力市场 (labor market)
    – Tang Ho
    May 21, 2022 at 3:11
  • 1
    The trouble is not the definition of the market but the sink/sinking/sunken, no matter it was referring to the laborers or consumers in the rural regions as a whole.
    – r13
    May 21, 2022 at 3:44
  • 1
    @user3528438 Yes, I would agree that "lower segment" is a better translation by context.
    – r13
    May 21, 2022 at 3:47

下沉(sinking)市场(market) is usually associated with the stock/bond market to indicate the drifting downward of the market (buy/sell) value of a broad range of tradable commodities/holdings. In the US, it is usually called a "downmarket", which is usually the result of a series of "down days" in a stretch.

ADD: After reading the articles provided by others, I think "下沉市场" can't be translated laterally based on the meaning of the words, rather, it describes these historically "underdeveloped" or "undeveloped" cities/areas as a whole -market, that has become the backbone (due to increased consumption) of the economy and offered the needs to the front runners to continue China's economic train. So, "underdeveloped market", or "undeveloped market", seems a better match.

  • 1
    That is not the 下沉市场 meant in Chinese, 所谓下沉市场,通常是指三线以下城市、县镇与农村地区的市场。 其覆盖的人口规模和消费规模很大,社会消费品零售额、网购市场规模、移动支付金额等增长迅速,在我国消费大盘中的地位和作用日益突出。
    – Tang Ho
    May 20, 2022 at 18:57
  • 1
    I couldn't connect the dots - calling a fast-growing region sinking market下沉市场.
    – r13
    May 20, 2022 at 19:39
  • 1
    Obviously, it is a term Mainland Chinese came up with. seeing the big cities as high-profit markets and the rural area as low-profit markets but with larger areas (成本較低,薄利多銷 ?)
    – Tang Ho
    May 20, 2022 at 19:42
  • 1
    Still does not make sense, unless you mean 落後地區因為人口負菏重, 勞工爭相就業, 因而嚴重影響收入, 導致生活水平不上反下, 身處其中者自有"下沉"之感(嘆) - 共產夢難圓 :)
    – r13
    May 20, 2022 at 20:27
  • 1
    但據我井地之見, 中國鄉村入口流失甚鉅, 離鄉者多半成為城市流民, 進而造成嚴重的社會問題. 到底是誰在下沉呢?
    – r13
    May 20, 2022 at 20:44

I like that name, "the sunken market"!

下沉: sink, PP sunken

source: 百度
translation from me

The so-called sunken market,
usually refers to the consumer market of third tier cities, county towns and rural areas,
which (this market) covers a great number of people whose consumption scope is also large,
the amount of retail sales of consumer goods, the scope of internet sales, the volume of e-payment, are all increasing rapidly,
its importance and effect on China's market index grows daily.
To take new energy vehicles as an example,
in 2021 purchases of new energy vehicles became a highlight and a new area of growth,
the sales volume increased year on year by 1.6 times, among which,
the sunken market contributed approximately 47% of the total sales volume
to become the market segment with fastest growth rate and greatest potential.

Can't find an author for the phrase 市场下沉, seems it just comes from the internet.

市场下沉 market percolation

This phrase comes from the internet,
the meaning of market percolation is: the amplification and deep penetration of the target market ,
(or) in layman's terms,
suppose your original marketing channels barely cover the top tier white-collar internet users group,
after percolating down the market,
your (market) coverage has increased to include the youth of fourth and fifth tier towns.
(if you) continue percolating down,
your client group will increase until it (even) covers the dancers in the local square. (i.e. everyone)
This signifies your target market will be much larger.

So, I would translate 下沉市场 to English as "percolation marketing"

  • 1
    This citation offers more detail, however, I still have trouble with the phrase "下沉市场", because it does involve any market/area that has/had fallen from a higher status, but those markets/areas that historically were underdeveloped (未發展的/落後的) compared to the rising stars - large port cities. Also, 下沉 offers a false impression that these markets/areas are sinking, or fallen behind, such as the city of Detroit in the US (which used to be the palace of the automobile kingdom but has faced imminent bankruptcy for years now).
    – r13
    May 21, 2022 at 1:23
  • 1
    Maybe you should ask whomsoever first mooted the term. City dwellers, living in a cloud of smog, stress, woes and worries wane themselves better than non-city dwellers. Everything else is beneath them, literally, figuratively and economically, so this market segment is "down below". Another phrase that springs to mind is 'percolation market', a knock-on effect of the massive consumerism of top tier cities.
    – Pedroski
    May 21, 2022 at 21:54

下沉市场 could be used in marketing like 精准营销

The following is a paragraph about it:

下沉市场用户群体的需求有别于一线城市, 他们一般收入较少, 品牌认知有限, 价格敏感。以Hollar为例, 从一开始就将目标人群定位在80后至90后年轻妈妈身上。一方面, 是因为创始人过去运营过女性电商平台, 在这方面比较有经验;另一方面, 是这些群体相对年轻, 对新事物的接受能力比较高。Hollar上的商品主要以价格低廉的儿童玩具、家居物品、婴儿用品为主。每个商品都是1块钱起价, 最贵不超过10美元。这对年轻妈妈们来说无疑有着巨大的吸引力。出于“反正很便宜, 即使买了之后发现不好损失也不大”的心理, 大量年轻妈妈在Hollar上购物, 为Hollar带来了第一波热潮。通过口碑传播, Hollar成功打响了名声。

from 朱帅. "国外互联网下沉市场企业镜鉴." 互联网经济 5 (2019): 42-47. Web.

Therefore, 下沉市场 could be the lowering-end of the market segment or

the small-town and rural market segment.

But 下沉市场 is not a small market segment, as this title suggests 市值缩水300多亿,又一个下沉市场巨头没落

more elaboration:

针对下沉市场居民的渠道下沉也绝非近年才有, 地产界的碧桂园与饮食界的娃哈哈都曾经在这片广袤的土地上缔造过属于他们的....

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