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The Chinese market has often been considered by many companies whom looking for growth in Asia. With over 700 million internet users, China is the world’s largest digital market. It is also one of the largest eCommerce markets globally and transactions on its mobile platforms remain unparalleled to its neighboring countries around the region. But operating in the market doesn’t come without its fair share of pitfalls. Here are 8 marketing strategies shared by experts about entering the Chinese market.
Alberto (安亚柏) Antonucci, China Expert @ Ad Maiora Asia
“Having an e-commerce business without brand awareness is useless. Same to say if you place the products in an existing marketplace (i.e. JD, TMall, etc.)
Brands entering China should be first focus on these 3 rules:
1. Let them know who you are
2. Let them know what you do
3. Let them talk about you.
So, in other words, there is no winning e-commerce solution without a convincing branding strategy!”
“Take a close look and adjust your brand positioning and product features before entering the Chinese market. For example, the post-90s and post-00s generations are the driving force behind apparel retail today. For foreign fashion brands targeting the middle-class or mature women, they may need to change to a younger, fresher look for Chinese consumers.”
Susanna Nicoletti, Brand Contributor Jing Daily
“Engagement” is key in China. For a luxury brand to get Chinese consumers deeply involved — so much so that they feel they can’t live without its products — it will need a 3-step process called Culture Marketing. This new approach is based on (1) Understanding, (2) Planning, and (3) Exchanging, and it requires an approach that’s different from the one-way exchanges of the past where brands impose a monolithic vision on their target audiences. This process can be easily applied to any market, but it’s especially helpful in the China market where the demand for customer service is high and opinions spread quickly via Chinese social media.”
Mark Tanner Managing Director of China Skinny, a Shanghai-based marketing firm and Michael Zakkour (MZ), VP, China/APAC Strategy & Global Digital at Tompkins International
“I don’t think it is as straightforward as throwing more money at store openings, social media and KOLs, etc. It is really more about understanding target markets and being smarter, connecting and engaging with them. Luxury consumers want to feel special, loved, and there are increasing tools available for brands to assist with this.
One example is facial recognition, which is starting to take off in China, allowing brands to develop individual profiles on customers to provide a truly personalized level of service that is authentic and thoughtful. This should be incorporated into new store openings, KOL campaigns, social and e-commerce.”
Sofya Bakhta of China Briefing
“The maintenance and development of online word-of-mouth are fundamental to sustaining your business and relevance in the Chinese market. Important tools to create online buzz are:
- Social media networks like WeChat, Weibo, Youku, and Tudou.
- Online shopping websites like Taobao.
- News websites like Sine China.
- Online communities like Douban.
It is necessary to stay updated with the most popular platforms as well as the latest issues and topics trending on these platforms and to use and develop them to promote your brand effectively.”
Mark Hedley of B2B International
“Making that first step into the China market is an intimidating step for most companies in the b2b arena, with an almost endless series of potential pitfalls to be negotiated. Although there are often many obstacles in the way of achieving success in China, the rewards of successfully navigating this difficult course are also immense.
Thankfully, as China’s economy continues to grow and become more open to foreign companies, the rewards increasingly outweigh the challenges of doing business in China. While the old adage “In China everything is possible, but nothing is easy” still rings true for many foreign companies when doing business in China, the extent of this difficulty seems to decline further with every passing year.
China is a country that is constantly changing and its markets are evolving more rapidly than almost anywhere on earth. As such, there is no one-size-fits-all approach by which foreign companies should approach the China market. Each company’s China strategy is likely to be informed by any number of different factors – from industry sector, product type, company size and culture, through to long-term business aims and global corporate vision.”
“When entering China, you must assume that you have lost product-market-fit and need to rediscover it. It is crucial to start with a beginner’s mindset and test your current solution in the new market. Start with a Riskiest Assumption Test (RAT) or Minimum Viable Product (MVP) mindset in order to validate what is and is not working.
You might find that geographic differences make your product useless. For example, a company producing high-tech fishing equipment can be successful internationally where most lakes are natural but will find itself at a roadblock in China, where many lakes are artificial and do not have the same ecological or physical features.”
Rachel Lou of Dragon Social
“Despite all these missteps foreign businesses have taken when marketing in China, Chinese consumers are not so hard to please if you can market to them in the right way.
No matter how your Chinese marketing strategies are going to be laid out, two things are especially crucial if you want them to work like a charm in China – Have a sophisticated, extensive understanding of the local culture, and convey your intended message in a culturally-appropriate way. If you play it as creatively as possible while noting cultural nuances then this delicate game for foreign marketers will be yours to ace.”
That concludes the summary of the marketing strategies to enter the China market. Reach out to into23 if you have any translation and localization needs for entering the China market.
This is a guest post by Bob Low, the regional marketing consultant for into23.