The Chinese market is a very different entity than Western markets, which demands a tailored approach when creating your marketing strategy.
Here I’ve shared my five top tips on how to achieve marketing success within China.
1. Start at home
Chinese consumers trust other Chinese consumers and they are also very curious about new “hot” products/brands. It’s common for them to look to Chinese people living overseas to discover new products and brands. Many Chinese living overseas have Instagram/youtube accounts and also accounts on Chinese platforms. Engaging with these people can be very persuasive and is a great way to build awareness in China before you officially launch.
Key opinion consumers (KOCs) are an increasingly important part of a brand’s marketing mix. They are regular people who are gifted products and talk about them on their social media accounts or e-commerce websites, such as Xiaohongshu.
Connecting with the Chinese people living in your home market. Creating a hype around your products. Can help you build a reputation for your brand. This authority and authenticity would be almost impossible to create by yourself.
2. Be ready to adapt to the local market
One of the most common mistakes I see when Western companies are promoting their products to the Chinese market is they copy paste global strategies. Do not rely on the same messaging that has been successful for them in their home market.
This simply doesn’t work.
I am not suggesting reinventing the wheel but a certain amount of adaptation is necessary.
Work with your local partners to define your target audience in China – investigate their characteristics. Evaluate how can you appeal to their interests and which activities will resonate with them.
Analyse the competition and work on your point of difference.
Put together a deck with your China positioning, key messages – do you need to create assets that represent the brand locally – all these things need to be considered.
And, crucially, it’s important to recognise that Chinese consumers differ drastically from their Western counterparts. Their culture, habits, social expectations, likes and dislikes and their values all need to be fully considered in order for them to connect with your brand.
3. Create a community
Consider how you can create a loyal community around your brand that can act as advocates. Could you involve your target market in the development of your products, or in the success of your marketing campaigns?
By talking to your customers in carefully segmented channels on WeChat, for example, you can find out what they want from you.
Customer data is gold in China. In Tmall you don’t have much access but in platforms like Wechat you are able to really nurture you community which will in turn lead to better profitability with higher repeat purchase rates.
4. Choose your promotional platforms wisely
There are a lot of digital marketing Channels in China. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to be on too many – it will spread your time and budget very thin. The main ones are:
China’s biggest social channel wechat, at its core a messaging app but with many more functions including shops, payments all within it. It can act as a website for brands in China – consumers come to check official information. It is also used by many brands as an effective CRM tool. But it’s expensive to run and reach is hard to get so not the first platform I normally recommend brands use for their launch.
Weibo is where many Chinese consumers go to get their news and celebrity gossip. It’s a bit like twitter. Growing a fan base on Weibo is easier than on some of the other platforms but due to engagement levels it’s also not the first platform I recommend.
Little Red Book
Little Red book depending on your positioning and target audience. Xiaohongshu aka. Red book is a great 1st option for Beauty brands. It was set up for Chinese travelling overseas to share their discoveries with friends and family back home. Now it’s a very powerful search engine and for many consumers an essential part of their purchase journey when discovering products and brands.
Douyin – aka. Tiktok
Douyin has grown exponentially over the last few years and is very popular for Beauty brands now. Creating content for this channel is the challenge but for beauty brands targeting younger customers it’s a great place to be.
These are the main ones but there are also ones that may suit your niche target audience. You don’t need to have an official brand account on all these platforms to leverage them you can also work with influencers as a way to get some visibility.
Focusing on exactly who you want your marketing to reach and designing your digital approach from there will give you the best, and most economical, chance of success.
5. Find a team that will have your back
When working with agencies, service providers and distributors it can be hard to maintain the brand messages.
Consistency is key in China
You will have to be focused, disciplined and consistent to get cut through.
Having someone in house or externally that can act as your eyes and ears is extremely helpful in maintaining focus.
I do this with many brands currently in China both from a market entry perspective but also as they continue to operate in the market before they decide to establish offices in the market.
Here is a link to my most popular post – 5 tips on entering the China market.
I hope you’ve found these tips useful. If you’d like to find out more about launching and growing your brand in China email me on firstname.lastname@example.org