Starbucks has become the first foreign company to be integrated in the Wechat Wallet. Since the integration of arguably the world’s most popular coffee brand Wechat users can send a Starbucks coffee or gift to a Wechat friend, who then simply has to show the gift at a Starbucks store to receive the item. This move clearly shows that Starbucks understands the power of the leading social media platform in China.
With 846 million MAUs (Monthly Active Users), Wechat has become an indispensible tool for businesses to interact with their followers. In recent years international businesses have also begun to take notice; however, due to their limited knowledge of Wechat and the degree to which the app has permeated the daily lives of Chinese consumers, international businesses usually fail to make full use of Wechat and all of its features and possibilities.
On the other hand, it is true though that the application rules do make it difficult for international businesses to sign up for a Wechat account. One rule is particularly troublesome, i.e. in order for Chinese consumers to be able to access your official account, that account must be registered by a legal Chinese entity. Does this mean that you have to set up a China WFOE for this sole purpose?
International-Market vs. China-Market Platforms
This all depends on the location of your customer base of course, as official accounts are available on two ‘market platforms’: the International-Market Platform and the China-Market Platform. Although features and interfaces are nearly identical on both platforms, they have different requirements and cater to different audiences.
While businesses and government entities based in Hong Kong S.A.R., India, Indonesia, Macau S.A.R., Malaysia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand and USA can register an international official account, only individuals, businesses and organizations based in Mainland China can register for a China official account. Furthermore, according to Wechat, international official accounts can only be followed by users registered in regions outside of Mainland China; whereas China official accounts do not suffer from this limitation, i.e. everyone can access China official accounts.
So if your customer base happens to be in Mainland China, you would have to set up a China WFOE to be able to register for a China official account, right? Not necessarily.
Sure, if you already do considerable business in China, and your organization would greatly benefit from setting up a China WFOE, then go for it. However, for some companies this is completely unnecessary and, sometimes, quite impossible. How can they reap the benefits from Wechat? They can apply for an account via an online marketing agency such as ours that has its own legal entity in China, or you can talk to a Chinese distributor or partner that you trust 100%. It is possible to obtain an official Wechat account by using their business license during the application.
MyChinaWeb can help you set up and manage your official Wechat account and help you grow your brand in China. Don’t hesitate to contact us to receive more information about this topic!