You are probably here because you are preparing to enter the Chinese market and wondering how you can introduce your brand to Chinese consumers. Although the Chinese market is lucrative, there are several obstacles for your business to consider. Some of these obstacles can be regulatory legislation, sales networks and large capital investments.
The truth is that when companies think about Chinese marketing, they consider China specifically but forget about Chinese nationals living abroad. What is worthy of attention is that overseas Chinese are considered to be one of the largest diasporas in the world with a population of about 65 million. Companies have neglected the population of affluent Chinese nationals that live outside China. Statista projects that close to 800 million Chinese internet users will access social networks in 2023, up from 673.5 million social network users in 2018. In this article, we will explain four reasons why it requires a different strategy to reach Chinese consumers.
Chinese Nationals Outside of China
Overseas governments are paying more attention to Chinese and Asian immigrants as Chinese consumer preferences and cultures have raised the demonstrative influence. For instance, Chinese students are becoming progressively powerful with 40% of international students in the U.K market. This group spends 2 to 4 years on average studying abroad and they are keen to explore new cultural experiences. A variety of businesses and non-profit groups in Australia and the United States are now active in encouraging brands to engage with Chinese customers, however, the segment generally has not been involved in other parts of the world (Emerging Comms).
According to Statista, around 662,100 Chinese students left China in 2018 to study abroad. The figure grew by 11.74% compared to the previous year, making China the world’s leading country of source for international students. Why are they so important? Because most of them are from wealthy families and have big consumption power, similar to outbound Chinese travelers. Once they know some good products, it is likely that they buy them as presents for their parents. Then, the word-of-mouth begins.
Not only do they represent a group of consumers, but also a group of influencers. Most of them continue to use popular SNS platforms like Wechat, Redbook, Weibo etc., to stay connected to their home country. They like sharing their overseas daily life and discoveries; it could be any topic, as long as it’s not recognized as “sensitive” content. Their posts are always there on the platforms and can be searched by other Chinese.
Suitable Content Strategy for Chinese Platforms
Chinese platforms cater to different audiences and are used for different purposes. It’s important to have a suitable strategy depending on each platform.
WeChat delivers more resources than any other apps like Facebook, Whatsapp, Google News, Tinder or Pinterest. The WeChat content should be more insightful while creating an emotional and useful appeal to consumers. Headlines should always be interesting, thrilling or provoke a sense of curiosity. It is advisable to consider WeChat as a site for posting your products and services with educational resources. QR codes are widespread in China and WeChat users typically search the QR code to see their preferred brands or check for brand details.
Weibo users are generally younger and less than 30 years old. Because it is a younger audience, the platform has mainly entertainment-related content. Weibo posts should concentrate on lifestyle or fashion topics posts. Brands may use and incorporate trending keywords when creating ads to gain more exposure. New releases, promotions and Chinese festivals are favorable ways to boost user engagement.
Recently, video has become more influential and several brands have started implementing videos into their Chinese digital content marketing. A number of luxury brands such as Alice+Olivia, Tory Burch, and Burberry, have started to use TikTok in 2020. Video content can be your best alternative when it comes to pushing your brand in front of competitors.
Auto-Translation Programs Aren’t Effective
Automated-translators are popular, however, companies cannot depend on the translation of a search engine to provide readable content to your Chinese consumers. Poorly structured phrases in any language will damage the user experience and most likely decrease interest to browse the website. Thus, auto-translation programs won’t help you to communicate effectively with your foreign potential customers.
Computers hardly can recognize local slang, idioms or names; only a real person can understand those types of speech and translate it to effectively deliver the message and true meanings.
Taking Cultural Differences Into Account
One major challenge is any marketing approach is the strategy for each country. Cultural differences can also affect customer behavior. For example, the notion of facial or personal respect, known in Mandarin as mianzi, is a central part of Chinese society, yet it is an unexplored feature of Chinese consumer behavior.
Hard selling has better results with straightforward discounted content in individualistic societies such as in the US and Europe. In collectivist environments like those in China, it is preferable to use soft selling techniques. Companies must provide a very friendly and respectful attitude in order to build a positive relationship and to gain trust from overseas clients. Content that comes off as hard selling are most likely skipped over by most of the Chinese audience. Phrases like “the most popular” or “the best” aren’t only prohibited by Chinese advertising laws, they aren’t convincing either.
Tailor Your Strategy
A successful strategy for reaching overseas Chinese must be tailored. Companies must understand their target audience behavior and criteria to be successful. Thinking about entering the Chinese market? Contact us to start!