Western companies that want to break into the Chinese social media landscape don’t have it all that easy for several different reasons. First, language barriers and cultural differences make it a real challenge for businesses that are learning about Chinese consumers for the first time.
Second, as we introduced previously, Chinese social media platforms are used differently than in the West and, more often than not, have totally different functions. The third is that China’s platforms are very dynamic and usage trends are changing all the time. This makes it seem like keeping up is an impossible task. We have prepared our best Chinese marketing tips for anyone who is ready to start their journey to the East.
Here are the Chinese Marketing Tips You Should Follow
- Understand Chinese Consumers
- Set up an official verified business account
- Create a WeChat Mini Program
- Connect with KOLs
- Find the right platform
1. What are Chinese Consumers Like?
Let’s start with online retail. For the most part, consumers in the West trust the websites they visit and generally consider them trustworthy which is not the same situation for Chinese internet users. Chinese consumers are constantly on the lookout for fraudulent websites, scams, and products of poor quality. For this reason, they are more critical of brands online and will shop around much more than Western consumers.
This practice of researching and shopping around is so common that companies must make a good impression very quickly before the Chinese consumer looks elsewhere.
Additionally, Chinese consumers are much more demanding and expect more tailored services. While customer care in the West exists mainly to deal with things that have gone wrong, customer care in China is all about communicating with the customer through the buying process to ensure the pedigree of the product and brand. So how can Western companies cater to Chinese consumers?
Study Your Competition
Chinese consumers are very brand savvy but they aren’t very loyal which is good news for a new company that wants to break into the market. Whatever product or service you want to sell, you need to carefully consider your prices and how they compare to your competitors (that means local ones, too). You also need to consider whether your online presence offers a message or visual content that attracts the customer’s attention. Status is key in China and your product or service should aim to raise the status of the consumer who buys it.
Get to Know and Follow the Chinese Calendar
When you think of major Holidays in the West, chances are you are probably thinking of Halloween, Easter, and Christmas. But following the Chinese calendar, Chinese New Year, Qixi Festival, and Singles Day are just a few of the holidays that Western companies need to learn about to participate in the Chinese consumer market.
Singles day, for example, is a holiday celebrated on November 11th (11/11) that celebrates people who are… single. Singles day, funny as it sounds, has become the largest online shopping day in the world. It’s opportunities for sales like these that Western companies really have to study about to capitalize on.
2. Set Up an Official Verified Business Account
Remember how Chinese consumers are a bit skeptical when encountering a new brand? That’s precisely the reason that your first step has to be setting up an official verified business account on WeChat.
Although it used to be next to impossible for Western businesses to get an official account, it has become significantly easier. Since most of the process will be in Chinese, you need to have a Chinese speaker on your team that will deal with the process.
There are several types of official accounts: service accounts vs. subscription accounts.
Service accounts give you access to advanced public platform features like push notifications, a 48-hour reply window, and extra monthly broadcasts. Subscription accounts, while they don’t support payments or offer push notifications, are a good fit for companies who are planning on publishing regular content.
Getting a fully verified WeChat account will require you to go through a few steps but doing so will bring your company more credibility in the eyes of the Chinese consumer.
3. Create a WeChat Mini-Program
One of the types of advertising that WeChat facilitates is a mini-program. Essentially, mini-programs are programs launched by businesses within their WeChat page. Imagine your business wants to build an app that offers some kind of service. After building, you have to entice people to download an extra app that takes up memory on their mobile devices, which they may or may not ever use again.
Instead, WeChat allows you to create a mini-app directly on your WeChat page that requires no extra downloading. Even better, it doesn’t require the user to exit WeChat to access your services.
WeChat mini-programs are a good idea for a business for a couple of reasons. For one, they improve user experience as users can do many different tasks all within one app. Imagine ordering food, checking out the latest deals for your favorite brands, shopping, and booking a last-minute weekend trip all in an app. This is precisely why mini-programs provide higher conversion rates than any of WeChat’s other marketing channels.
4. Connect with KOLs
KOLs, or Key Opinion Leaders, are influencers that are absolutely vital for any social media marketing campaign. Once again, remember how Chinese consumers are skeptical when it comes to new brands? KOLs are the key to endorsing your brand and raising your credibility.
These influencers have amassed hundreds of thousands of followers and are a regular part of social media users’ news feeds. Ordinary citizens value their endorsements and often make their purchases based on the KOLs they follow. As a result, KOLs go hand in hand with the spread of trends in China and are often utilized by businesses for marketing campaigns.
5. Find the Right Platform for Your Business
As WeChat is such a huge part of the daily lives of Chinese consumers, it should be the first and most important part of a business’s digital marketing strategy. However, don’t underestimate the power of “smaller” social media platforms that are specific to your industry or niche.
Xueqiu, Mafengwo, and Kuaishou are three platforms that are growing in size. Xueqiu is THE social media network for equity and finance-related discussion and information. Mafengwo, a network with 130 million users, provides all travel-related reviews, deals, and information for independent travelers. Kuaishou is a short video sharing and live streaming app known for being popular among citizens in China’s second-tier cities.
Why is this relevant? An app like Kuaishow offers a different type of customer for businesses and is important for companies that want to attack smaller Chinese markets.
These were the Chinese Marketing Tips for Western Companies. Successful marketing in China requires a lot of homework. With dynamic marketing trends and evolving social media platforms, business in China is fast-paced. Having a Chinese speaker on your marketing team is paramount for success. Do you still want more Chinese marketing tips? Continue following our blog and find out all the information and news about Chinese social media trends that you need to follow to reach a Chinese audience.