Allie: Hi everyone. I’m really happy to have Jennifer Spark here with us today. She’s a truce in a file having worked with China for over 20 years. Now based in Australia works both with Australian and foreign brands who are tapping into the Chinese market locally in Australia.
She’s got a particular passion for smaller brands and helping them work out ways how to crack this amazing market. I’m really happy to have you here today. Thanks for coming Jennifer.
Jennifer: Thanks Allie. It’s great to be here.
Allie: Today I really wanted to have a chat about how Australian or other brands can tap into the Chinese market in their home country. So I guess the first one that we can talk about is Australia. It’s got a really establish Chinese Community.
Why do you think it’s so important for brands to engage with them locally in Australia?
Jennifer: Well, I think the amazing thing about Australia and particularly large cities like Sydney and Melbourne is that they really have very large well-established expatriate Chinese communities.
That community is actually made up of many different micro-communities. You have the people from Shanghai and the people from Beijing and then you’ve got people from Western China.
You really have a microcosm of the Chinese population really in Australia. The other really exciting thing is that a lot of these people are a lot young guys.
You’re looking at a very large population of Millennials who really enjoy high-end consumer products and a very active shoppers. It’s a really good cross of male and female.
You’ve also got families. They have really strong connections with each other. Once you actually in the community, it’s pretty easy to actually snowball and made other people and you know connected to everybody because it is a large community that they are all interconnected.
It’s actually small when compare to the whole of Australia. You’ve only got I think it’s 5% of the population speaking Chinese. It’s actually a very easy population to get into actually made the first move.
Allie: Most of the expat Chinese in Australia, they’ve settled within this generation.
Jennifer: Obviously the majority of generation. There was a big group that actually came out here in the late 1980s so that you know following during the fourth.
There was a big group of Chinese that came out at that time, they are sort of more sort of the Gen X, but then the biggest wave of migration and the biggest expatriate Community is actually those from the last ten years. There was massive migration to Australia in the last decade.
A lot of those Chinese people that actually settled here are actually been here 10 years or less.
Allie: I guess that’s great for brand because they still have very strong connections back in the mainland with their families and their friends back there.
Jennifer: Absolutely. They call themselves – what they call themselves – Sea Eagles. Because they are always flying back again and most of Chinese people that live here in Australia will go home back to China, you know two or three times a year.
A lot of them have businesses in China. They have deep family Connections in China as well. Obviously family and friends living in China. So even though, they established here, they do go back and forth all the time.
And then the other really cool thing about this group is that they always have friends visiting them. They got family and friends visiting them all the time. They’re often host them.
They’ll host them for sometimes several months. It’s not uncommon to have you know, mum and dad to visit for two or three months.
A friend can visit two or three months and I think you know that opening of visa restrictions in the last couple of years has made it a lot easier for people to have long-stay guests as well.
Allie: Yeah, that makes sense. I mean in terms of the smaller brands to target the local Chinese in Australia,
what would be a couple of things that you would recommend that they can look at.
Jennifer: I think one of the big things that you can actually do to make a big impact and especially just test out your brand and product is actually do a bit of media buying.
And it’s pretty easy to find the Chinese media organizations and media platforms. They are situated on WeChat, but they have around 400,000~500,000 followers. They cross over with news like new services, traditional news, lifestyle.
You have probably about – I would say – in Australia about ten really good decent quality Chinese language media outlets that set up a WeChat. You know, we don’t use that.
Allie: I mean that’s quite a lot. In Chinese language! It’s amazing.
Jennifer: Yeah, and most of them have half a million, the really good ones have half a million followers. And the interesting thing is that most of those followers will be a mix of Chinese based in China and also Chinese community in Australia.
It’s not only Chinese in China. It’s really good opportunity to actually just put your foot in the door, put something out, do a sales promotion. It’s not cheap.
Spending $4,000 per ad but then your reach is actually very high and you’re actually making a really good impact on to the Chinese community.
If you are beauty product that’s you know, got your product available, you know will worse or price line or other, be sort of distributor then that’s a great opportunity to actually push just initially just to see how it goes.
Allie: Yeah. Yeah precious a lot and then also obviously have the ripple effect on to that. If they like the product onto the community within China if you’re looking at that’s your sort of next step.
And so we talked on WeChat media outlets with specifically targeting the Chinese in Australia,
what other platforms would you suggest brands used to engage with Chinese in Australia?
Jennifer: Definitely Red Book. There is a really big community of micro influences and some larger influences. I wouldn’t call them KOL here in Australia, but you do have a lot of micro influences that sit within that platform.
And also I’ve noticed a lot more influences using Chinese-speaking influences using Billy Billy that’s still a really popular platform down here as well. Those are probably the Chinese language platforms that I’d be going for.
But also don’t forget about Instagram. The thing about Instagram is still it’s really really popular with millennials, especially with expat Chinese Millennials.
A lot of those out here that came out as students. They speak English. They love Instagram. It’s a western platform. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It makes them look good.
You know, they take all their photos on it. They really love using Instagram. Instagram is definitely a great tool as well and a great platform to use to promote to the Chinese Community.
Allie: Yeah, it’s something that I’ve seen with the US. There’s quite a few expat Chinese in the US and they use YouTube. But then they often also have a platform Billy Billy.
That format works quite. The two formats quite compatible, I guess. And it’s a great way for brands to reach out locally.
I think especially with if we’re talking to Australian brands, I think reaching out locally in Australia, you know with someone like you that can help facilitate them into that local Chinese network is a great way to start before you move on to China market.
Jennifer: And also other interesting platform, which I’ve seen use is Daigou. We have a lot of Chinese… Daigou, the guys who actually used Daigou to promote Australian products as well.
These are quite a big group of Daigou based here in Australia that sell beauty and Australian health products as well. That’s also really important as a direct sales channel.
If you’re an Australian brand and you want to get into Daigou, how would you suggest that they do that?
Jennifer: Find a Chinese speaking person who understands the platforms to go into.
Allie: There you go. Okay.
Jennifer: I work with an individual who understands of platforms, who’s connected to the people or an agency. There are agencies also here.
Bigger agencies, you know, so if you’re a bigger brand with bigger budgets, you can work with agencies here who represent Daigou represent influences. There are people out there who can help you to find someone.
Allie: With China, so many of the things it’s all about connections, right? You need someone that has those connections yet. Yeah. Yeah. Make sense.
Jennifer: I mean one thing I would advise against is just hiring a student. Just because somebody can speak Chinese. It doesn’t mean that they can actually do a marketing strategy for you.
And I think there’s mistake that a lot of brands make is that they just think they can get anybody that speaks Chinese to go and do things for you or hiring an intern and don’t pay them anything and just hope for the best. But it’s not.
Hiring an intern is not a strategy. It’s never a good idea, really. It’s going to be a bit of a waste of time to be honest.
Allie: Yes, I mean if they want to do a little bit of research for you on a specific topic, fine! But if you want an actual strategy on how to reach a consumer group then of course not. Yeah, but I have seen brands do that as well.
Don’t fall into that trap. So okay, then if brands are looking… So you work with a brand, they are engage with the Chinese in the market in the Australia.
And then that brand is looking to move into the mainland Chinese markets through cross-border e-commerce. Would you have any suggestions for how they do that? Or how they make that next step?
Jennifer: There’s actually a really interesting organization that’s working here in Australia. That is actually doing a lot of representation of brands who want to break into that China Mainland Market.
It’s a really big company and they’ve been working with a really big and a lot of brands and some small brand. But they had a lot of success in taking up brands and taking them over to China.
They recently made an acquisition of a company called the Napolean Perdis. I don’t know if you heard of them.
Allie: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes
Jennifer: They acquired Napolean Perdis for another couple million dollars and that was a really big brand in Australia. In the 90s, it was the makeup brand of Philippines.
Everybody used it and then you know something happened and they went into administration and then this company went out and took it over and is now taking it to China.
So it’s run by a friend of mine. She’s an incredible person. She’s extreme visionary Chinese lady. Just super intelligent. Lives with husband and you know that’s the sort of person that I’ll be looking at.
Someone who’s actually got any significant experience and who is bold and courageous enough to actually on do something. But you have to trust them 100%.
Allie: Yeah. I think I know the company. They have people based in Australia as well as people in China. There’s that local connection where you can sort of get to know people.
Because it is difficult for brands when they have to make that leap of faith with a distribution or a trade partner. And especially at the moment, it’s very difficult to fly and meet people and you’ve got to build that relationship.
I suppose Australia is probably quite unique in that sense because the Chinese Community is so established and the ties are so strong. I think for Brand in Europe, it’s a bit trickier to find people like that. But yes.
Basically if you can find someone locally that has a connection to the China market that can take your brand and to the help build it. That’s the sort of ideal once you’ve done some ground work locally.
Jennifer: Then there are quite a few distributors based here in Sydney. You can do the research, talk to people, meet with people and find out what their strategy is to start.
And don’t just go for the first person that you meet. Because there are a lot of different types of distribution partners that can work with you.
Allie: Yeah. And dig into the numbers because if they look too good to be true they will be.
Jennifer: They usually are. Take your time. Yeah, do your due diligence.
Allie: Yeah. Okay. Then if there’s one last thing maybe a trend or something that you think brands should really pay attention to when they’re looking either at the Chinese market within Australia or the Chinese market sort of more broadly.
What would you suggest to brands to think?
Jennifer: Well, I think, you’ve seen this trend as well as I had especially in the last sort of 18 months to two years of growth of local Chinese brands in the beauty space.
Perfect Diary and others have been really boomed. I think there’s a lot more Chinese who are willing to buy Chinese made products, especially in the beauty space. I think that’s really probably has been the biggest trend in the last two years.
I still think there’s also a big move towards natural beauty products as well. That’s another trend that I think has really stayed and is still really popular. Natural products and things like coconut oil, coconut based products.
Allie: Paw paw Cream, in Australian are quite a few ones that people search for normally?
Jennifer: They used to be and it’s still kind of popular as a gift that you take home to your auntie or whatever. There are some fantastic tea tree oil products are really popular in Australia. There is the Thursday plantation.
Jennifer: With Plantation tea tree products. The natural products in Australia are always going to work really well. And then there was one other trend than I thought that the local Chinese…
The scientific ones, the ones with active ingredients because Chinese really read the packaging a lot and they are experts on hyaluronic acid and all these things.
Jennifer: And exactly what they do. They’re very well knowledgeable on all these different products and ingredients, the active ingredients in skin care, so they really do like those sorts of things.
Yes, I think they are probably the three biggest trends that I’ve seen in the last few years and they’re always willing to try new products, you know something different.
And yes, I think it’s a good time to be in the market because there’s just a huge amount of products available. There’s a lot of competition but it also means that there’s a lot of opportunity as well to try things that are new and break into the market.
Allie: Yeah, and I think that’s why I often say to brands, you need to be fairly well established in your home market before you enter into China.
And if you are lucky to be in Australia New Zealand or some other markets where there’s an established expat Chinese Community, go for them first. Because if they like your product they will advocate for you.
They will be naturally the word of mouth will spread and then by the time you’re actually looking to get into China, you’re on a much better footing.
Jennifer: I think that’s the key thing. The third key takeaway that I would like people to know is build a community in your community with the Chinese.
It’s about building and truly offering a service. It’s not just about selling a product. You really need to build that community and that’s really what it’s all about.
Because the Chinese are such a tight-knit community that you really need to build that for your brand.
Allie: Yeah, absolutely and that’s why word-of-mouth works so well once you get going with the Chinese,
Jennifer: Yes, absolutely.
Allie: Yeah. All right. Well, thank you so much Jennifer that was really really informative. And I’m sure brands will get a good lot of takeaways from that. If they want to contact you, is the best way on LinkedIn or?
Jennifer: Absolutely contact me on LinkedIn. Also, find me on Instagram. My Instagram handle is jennspark88. It’s got a bunch of stuff that I’m doing here. It’s got a really sort of general.
You can find me on LinkedIn or find me on Instagram. That’s the best way to find me or if you want to follow me on WeChat, you can find me on WeChat too.
Allie: I’ll put all the details below so people can find you.
Jennifer: All right. Thank you very much.
Allie: Thank you so much.