In China’s market today there are not only thousands of brands imported from western countries, but also Chinese brands, resulting in huge competition. New brands to China should stand out and invest in marketing to be noticed by the Chinese consumer. Sufficient time and energy should be spent to understand your Chinese customers, their expectations and demands, the availability of foreign and domestic competitors’ products and most importantly, find a way to ‘localize’ the marketing strategy for China. It is important to localize your brand messaging and visual approach to have maximum influence on Chinese consumers. Both global companies and start-ups face similar challenges when it comes to understanding Chinese consumers and their purchasing behaviors.
Foreign companies should understand that, even though the products or brand may be famous and well recognized in the home country, it might not be recognized by Chinese customers. Non-existing brand awareness is a major market entry barrier for foreign products. Chinese customers like to buy brands they know or brands that are already well established in the market. Many consumers have been cheated with counterfeit products, fake reputable brands, and domestic brands that are expensive but of poor quality. Accordingly, they became paranoid and cautious towards less recognized or unbranded products.
It may even be advisable to re-design and translate the western brand for the Chinese market, so that Chinese customers could better read and remember the brand. If the brand name is translated into Chinese, companies should make sure that there is suitable symbolic behind the characters. However, in the end the product should still be recognizable as a foreign product.
It is not only about marketing to Chinese consumers, but foreign brands should also get noticed by Chinese distributors or importers. If foreign brands cannot find quality distributors, then it gets difficult to gain return on investment. Local Chinese distributors are very picky in selecting foreign suppliers. Getting noticed and chosen by them is close to impossible if a brand has not yet created awareness on Chinese digital platforms.
No matter how popular a brand is outside China, to Chinese people only what is visible on Chinese digital platforms is known. Chinese consumers learn about new brands via Chinese social media. Furthermore, they search about products and brands on their smartphones, much less than on desktop computers.
Entering the Chinese market (online and offline) is a challenging and long-term venture and a good preparation and professional assistance is key to a successful start in China. When outlining your marketing strategy for China you need to completely reconsider your strategy and take into account the local situation in China. Simply copying your existing marketing strategy for other markets does not guarantee success in China.
The entire MyChinaWeb team in Belgium and China is available to help you with your online marketing in China. Our team combines local experience with a global outline. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need any help.