With the fastest rate for a growing consumer market worldwide along with an increasing rate of outbound tourism in China, Chinese customers are becoming a significant audience for foreign brands. Unsurprisingly, these brands are employing various strategies to target Chinese customers and capitalize on this vast consumer base. The buying power of Chinese customers is one of the highest in the world, a trend that is predicted to continue into the 2020s.
There are several strategies businesses can explore to target Chinese customers and advance their marketing potential.
The Buying Power of Chinese Customers for Foreign Brands
In 2018, outbound trips by Chinese tourists were up 15 percent (71.31 million trips) in just the first half of the year when compared to 2017. During that same half, domestic travel revenue was predicted to surpass CNY 5 trillion, a 13 percent upshot from the previous year. Further, 164 million Chinese residents applied for travel passports for private purposes to travel outside the country, continuing a 21 percent growth from 2017.
It is also estimated that spending among Chinese consumers could grow by 7.7 percent in the next ten years. Chinese tourists make up an enormous portion of the tourism economy for Australia, the US, and some European countries. When the travels end, demand for foreign brands in country has also not shown any indicators of slowing down anytime soon.
The 5 Top Strategies to Target Chinese Customers
These upward trends have attracted a number of foreign brands looking to take advantage of this market, but many are finding it quite difficult to target Chinese customers. Knowing the needs of your Chinese audience enables your brand to understand how to effectively engage with and provide to potential Chinese consumers. Tap into the market stress-free with these achievable pro marketing strategies guaranteed to help your brand target Chinese customers.
- Build a Chinese-Friendly Website
You will need to first adapt your website into a Chinese version or consider developing a locally hosted website which will be accessible to your Chinese audience by registering a “.cn” domain. You can do this by either hosting a website in Hong Kong, which would not provide a “.cn” domain but would help in SEO marketing, or hosting a website in China directly by applying for an ICP (Internet Content Provider) license.
Further, websites could be in English, but should also account for the differences in the Chinese Mandarin language. Mainland China and Singapore use Simplified Chinese, whereas other Chinese-speaking cultures, such as those found in Taiwan and Hong Kong, use Traditional Chinese. Businesses should at least provide Simplified Chinese websites.
More important, however, is that the content on the website should be targeted to Chinese customers. Writing quality content that is useful to Chinese consumers drives traffic to your website and enhances the online users’ experiences with your company. Consumers are constantly receiving information digitally, but the brands that provide something of value in their content are remembered long after consumers power down their devices.
- Localize Your Content
Adapting your website to be Chinese-friendly is just half the job. You have to ensure that your website is optimized for search engines familiar to your Chinese customer base in order to improve visibility and drive traffic to your business. After all, being online can only help your business expand if your customers know how to access you online.
Google Search takes precedent in the international business market, but in China, Baidu, 360 Search, and Sogou are the search engines that businesses should focus on when strategizing for SEO and content marketing. Businesses can get ahead by devoting some time to market and keyword research for local Chinese trends. Optimizing your content to target Chinese customers will help you reach more people in the largest and fastest growing consumer market in the world.
- Focus on Mobile Optimization
Research shows that the rate of mobile phone internet users in China is on the rise. Baidu itself, China’s biggest search engine, boasts over 161 million daily active users. To effectively target Chinese customers, you should optimize your website for mobile compatibility.
Your prospective market relies heavily on smartphones and tablets to find and purchase products or services as evident in the fact that in the first half of 2018, e-commerce transactions had generated over CNY 11.2 trillion in sales. Online shoppers in the Chinese market are yielding more affluence in marketing trends and have an impressive spending ability. Your business must deliver exceptional mobile experience to the Chinese customer base to compete with other brands.
- Get Social Locally on Social Media Apps
The marketing strategies that are used in the West may not work with a Chinese customer base and trying to replicate them sets your business up for marketing failure. That said, social media is a great way to engage locally with potential consumers. Even though Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Google are banned in China, there are still many social platforms where Chinese online users can be found.
LinkedIn is a professional platform that often gets overlooked. This platform allows businesses to engage with individuals and communities connected to their industries or interests. WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin are used by the majority of the population and offer opportunities for business to digitally market to the wider Chinese market.
With about 800 million daily active users, WeChat is the most popular mobile app in China, so it should not be left out when crafting a marketing strategy. When your content is shared on these platforms, it spreads the word about your business between trusted family and friends. This personal recommendation or share could lead to an increased traffic rate to your website and more future sales.
- Improve Cultural Communication
Finally, after all said and done, it is absolutely important that you know your consumers. When it comes to consumers, apart from gender, the main parameters for classification are based on age group and socioeconomic class. For instance, Chinese millennial consumers have needs that differ from those of older generations or people in a higher income class.
Understanding the landscapes of the various lifestyles and behaviours found around the country improves your brand’s ability to get noticed. Engaging on social media helps improve cultural communication and provide efficient targeting campaigns. Investing in cultural training not only yields greater knowledge of the targeted market, but also builds trust between your brand and potential customers.
Chinese consumers are gradually becoming one of the most desired customer base by brands all over the world. Both at home and abroad, the Chinese market is a significant opportunity for Western businesses to satisfy the demands of Chinese customers who love foreign brands. It is pertinent for international brands to adopt strategies that will facilitate communication with their Chinese consumers and adapt to the market landscape. It is possible for a business to target Chinese customers through local avenues and still thrive as a global brand.