A big mistake that Australian marketers can make in China is in thinking that Chinese consumers are much like those in the west, simply with a few minor differences. Therefore, they might just give their strategies a tweak, when what is required is a deeper understanding of Chinese consumers as well as a grasp of the cultural differences between the two nations.
Any marketing strategy has to start with getting inside someone else’s head. So it’s important to take the time to really develop a deep understanding of the psyche and behaviours of your target markets in China – that is if you don’t want to go the way of eBay and Google, who despite their size and success in the west have not fared so well in the Land of the Red Dragon!
How it can go wrong with Chinese digital marketing
- Not adapting products for Chinese tastes, preferences and needs. While there is a definite appetite for western products in China, consumer tastes are not identical to ours. Two success stories in this regard are Oreo cookies, which in China are less sweet and also come with local flavourings such as green tea and mango, and KFC, which has come up with a mix of local and foreign dishes that appeal to Chinese diners.
- Not localising products and services. A classic example of this is eBay, which was quickly ousted by Taobao as the latter offered free listings, included a chat feature, and also recognised that most citizens in China do not use credit cards for payments.
- Not getting the price right. Prices need to be adjusted according to your target market. For instance, if you are marketing to lower tier regions, prices will most likely need to be lower than for Tier 1 cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. At the same time, if prices are too low on luxury items, they will no longer be considered unique or special and may be treated with suspicion!
- Not developing a website specifically for Chinese audiences. Some of the current website trends in the west include minimalist design and muted tones, whereas in China websites generally come with more clutter and bright colours. Not only that, there are differences in the way websites are navigated and read in China. For example, people tend to read from the centre top to centre bottom, and site designs need to allow for this. Another consideration is that your site should be accurate in terms of language – something that may not happen if you are using Google translate!
- Not making use of China’s social media platforms. Social media is very popular with consumers in China, especially for seeking out peer reviews on products and services. While we might use Facebook and LinkedIn in Australia, popular networks in China include WeChat, Weibo, Dajie, and Youku and Tudou rather than YouTube.
- Creating advertisements that Chinese audiences cannot relate to. An example of this might be using blonde westerners in Chinese advertising.
What do to next
Marketing to China can be a complex business, and this makes it important to utilise the skills of marketing professionals who have a strong understanding of consumers, as well as a good grasp of Chinese language and culture. Contact our team of China marketing experts for more information.