You can’t ignore the huge growth currently taking place in the Chinese market. As the world’s second largest economy, China is already the globe’s biggest market for many products and it is continuing to grow at a staggering rate. Even accounting for some slowdown, China is likely to become the world’s largest economy by 2030. This means that expanding into China is a great idea for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
However, you can’t simply take your product and its current marketing and drop them into the Chinese market. Well, not if you want to succeed. Many businesses fail to crack China simply because their marketing doesn’t suit Chinese audiences. Chinese consumers prefer different forms of advertising, they use different technologies to shop, and they make different judgements about product pricing. If you want to enter the Chinese market, you need to market your product in a way that works for China.
So what do you need to do to successfully market your brand in China? Follow these top tips.
- Adapt Your Marketing Calendar
Western markets are heavily centered around occasions like Christmas and Black Friday. No marketer would dream of ignoring these big selling occasions. However, plenty of businesses fail to focus on occasions which are just as big in the Chinese market. The lunar new year, which falls between late January and late February, is an important time of year which is associated with a lot of commercial activity in China. There is also Singles’ Day on November 11th, a sort of anti-Valentine’s Day celebration which encourages singletons to buy themselves gifts. In 2017, Singles’ Day generated a record $25 billion in China. Make sure that you adapt your marketing calendar to Chinese events so you don’t miss out.
- Focus On Social Media
Get familiar with how Chinese social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo work. Digital marketing is growing fast in China and savvy companies are running highly successful social media marketing campaigns there. If your advertisements are easily shareable, they will go far in the Chinese market where word-of-mouth recommendations hold a lot of weight. WeChat, one of the largest social media and messaging apps, also has a direct pay option (WePay) so you can efficiently convert ad viewers into customers.
- Use QR Codes
QR codes are an important part of marketing your brand in China. Using WePay and a QR code, Chinese customers can use their phones to buy products from brick-and-mortar stores without using cash or cards. Chinese consumers buy more products on mobile than consumers in the US and UK and using QR codes can make this a much easier process. The introduction of QR codes in China led to massive falls in the use of ATMs and POS machines until the integration of QR reading technology. These little black-and-white boxes have changed the way people shop in China and it would be a mistake to ignore them for your products. They may not be highly popular in the west, but QR codes play an incredibly valuable role in marketing in China.
- Be Aware Of Pricing
Think carefully about your pricing strategy before marketing your product in China. Incomes vary significantly across China and selling a product at the same price point all over China usually won’t work. For example, East China has an average income that is around two and a half times higher than Central China and almost three times higher than West China so you should adjust your prices to suit consumers in these areas.
Chinese consumers are also sensitive to what price point says about a product itself. Brands may not be perceived as luxury or high quality if pricing is too low, and a strong brand will often succeed by increasing their prices in China. Take the example of Coach. In China, the cheapest bag on the Coach website sells for 2,300 RMB ($330 USD) while the same bag is priced at just $175 on their US website. Similarly, the most expensive bag is priced at 9,950 RMB ($1430 USD) versus $995 for the US. Seller beware: Pricing can make or break you in China.
- Emphasize Quality, Not Pricing
In this same vein, it’s useful to focus on the quality and prestige of your product rather than the price when advertising in China. While western advertising may focus on getting value for money and paying the lowest price possible, Chinese commercials emphasize a product’s style and the mood it evokes. Presenting a product as cheap isn’t a good idea in this market.
- Value Imagery Over Information
Chinese advertising tends to focus on aesthetics and moods rather than information-heavy text or audio. Chinese audiences also tend to appreciate advertising that centers around family and optimism as well as style, aspiration, and emotional warmth. Different styles will also do well in different parts of China, with eastern consumers valuing fashionable commercials and the north leaning towards family-focused advertising. While information is obviously important, it’s more vital that your marketing hits the right tone of aspiration, style, and warmth.
- Check Your Translation – And Check It Again!
This one should go without saying, but unfortunately plenty of businesses make this mistake. You need to check that your Chinese marketing content is written in correct Chinese. Reach out to a native Chinese speaker you know or find a reputable Chinese speaker on a website like Fiverr to help you translate your content. You need to ensure that it makes sense grammatically and that the overall message makes sense. Using incorrect Chinese can make you look unprofessional, turn your business into a laughing stock, or even worse, cause offense to your target market.