Successful marketing to China requires knowing what Chinese buyers want and need, as well as ‘getting’ their culture and mindset. Without this basis, your efforts could be in vain.

But there are a number of misconceptions that exist about the Chinese market. We dispel five common myths, and outline what you need to take into account when marketing to China.

Myth 1: China is becoming more westernised, so marketing only needs a western approach

While many Chinese citizens – especially in the younger generation – may be keen to become successful in their professions, obtain western products, and to express themselves, the culture is still very much bound up in the values of unity and relationship rather than individualism and standing out from the crowd. This means you need to approach your digital marketing strategies differently, not just roll out your local strategy.

Myth 2: Baidu is just China’s Google

Baidu is uniquely Chinese. It is restricted by government censorship, and unlike Google, is used mostly locally rather than globally. It is geared towards China in terms of language and culture, and the layout of Search Engine Results Pages differs from Google. Make sure when building a website for the Chinese market that you get professional assistance to optimise it for Baidu.

Myth 3: It’s easy to market western brands to China

While there is a real hunger for western brands in China, there will be some products that need to be adapted for Chinese tastes. Foods and beverages in many instances will need altering for a Chinese palate, and will also require different packaging. Not only that, many products need to be marketed differently, in a way that enhances the concept of fitting in and promotes success.

Myth 4: Chinese marketing can be done on the cheap

Not the case. Baidu offered ad space before Google did, and if you want to sell on Tmall, it could cost you $40,000 just to get a spot. Competition is high, so if you want to make a mark in China, be prepared to invest in your digital marketing program.

Myth 5: Setting up a Chinese website is just a matter of translating your current one

Direct translation doesn’t take cultural and language nuances into account, so don’t make the mistake of using Google Translate to convert your site into Chinese characters. You will more than likely need to build a separate site, and you should use professional translators who have a good grasp of English and are well-versed with Chinese culture. It’s also important to use analytics to track responses to your website and to be prepared to adapt accordingly.

Need help?

As you can see, it’s very important to become familiar with cultural differences when marketing to China. For expert help in translating and localising website content, optimising for Baidu, and setting up your Chinese digital marketing strategy, contact our team. We are multilingual and have years of experience in working with Australian businesses selling to China.

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