The opportunities and challenges of entering the Chinese market are becoming increasingly important for Western companies of all shapes and sizes.
Successful products and services are essential to a company’s ability to operate, which in turn depends on effective marketing. Every business will profit from even a rudimentary understanding of marketing.
If you’re trying to dominate China market, you probably have a road map in mind already. Of course, it’s not a job requirement to have a structure and plan to dominate the China market. However, if you’re doing some random acts and neglect marketing altogether, it would be tough to go through entering left alone dominate the market. Plus, your business would be a slog.
The problem is, do you know the essentials of China digital marketing – research, plan, implementation, and partnering?
- China Digital marketing process in today’s world
- Three vital elements for a successful digital marketing campaign
- Understanding the China digital marketing process
- Launching your digital marketing campaign in China
- Market Size in China
- Market Research
- Consumer research
- Competitor Research
- Digital Influence Research
- How China’s digital channels transform consumer engagement
- Build a Website
- Baidu SEO
- Baidu PPC
- Social Media
- Research Partners
- KOL Campaigns
- What’s Next?
China Digital marketing process in today’s world
The importance of digital marketing became obvious in the wake of the 2020 pandemic as the use and awareness of digital services and marketing rose exponentially, growing, in many ways, to be more popular than traditional means.
Even before the pandemic, digital marketing had become an increasingly efficient way to reach modern consumers, especially younger generations, who spend more time online than customers of the past. Although a traditional approach, such as physical marketing campaigns or visits, can still be a useful strategy, it can be improved with additional digital outreach.
”A digital marketing process is a broad term that refers to any steps taken to implement marketing through a digital strategy.”
Three vital elements for a successful digital marketing campaign
- Market: the target market you send your message to
- Message: the marketing message or offer you send
- Media: the channel that you use to send your message to your target market (ROI & channels)
When you plan to get into a new market like China, you need to conduct thorough research to get a winning market entry strategy.
- Consumer market (demographics/behaviours/sentiment/optical statistics, etc.)
- Product market landscape (current competitive landscape/current market leaders & market share/brands/trends/gaps/price/product mix, etc.
- Channels (distribution and communications channels/how they work/how they can use them)
- Media (paid and organic strategies/current landscape/trends/approaches used by other brands, etc.)
- Brand (design/branding/how other international brands have localised for the Chinese market, etc.)
- Competitors (international brands who have entered China successfully/ unsuccessfully)
A good practice for this is started by looking at users’ current choices through competitive research.
Find the unique capability/feature only you can offer, then ask the “So what” questions (what do users value, and what do these features enable for customers), then look across the capabilities and map that to the differentiated value.
Now we get to something like, “This is the value that your brand can provide for customers that no one else in the China market can.”
From here, we develop segmentation and look into the characteristics of these users that make them care a lot about the unique value of your brand that no one else has.
It is critical to understand the importance of the Digital Marketing process to reach your target audience using digital marketing tactics that are cost-effective, scalable, and measurable.
Marketers use different digital marketing methods to advertise their products or services online.
- Social Media Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Affiliate Marketing
- Email Marketing
Search Engine Optimisation is the process of optimising a website’s technical setup, content relevance, and link popularity so its pages are more accessible and relevant to the search engine and users.
In a nutshell, it’s the process of optimising a search engine to collect organic search results for a product or service. Baidu is the biggest search engine in China, also known as “China’s Google”.
PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click, and they primarily used it for paid campaigns. It’s a way of buying visits to your site. One of the most often used types of PPC is search engine marketing. When a user searches for a term associated with their product or service, it enables marketers to bid for ad placement in the sponsored links of a search engine. It helps boost the ranking on search engines or social media platforms.
Social Media Marketing
There is no doubt that social media has become inseparable from Chinese people’s daily lives. According to Hootsuite‘s We Are Social report, the total number of active social media users in China has reached 930.8 million in 2021, which is 64.6% of the total population.
Therefore, understanding Chinese social media and having an effective social media marketing strategy are essential for brands to be successful in the Chinese market.
This digital marketing process focuses on developing and distributing high-quality content to customers. Content that is authentic and grabs the attention of the consumer. These materials can be in written, audio, or video form.
Affiliate marketing is an advertising method in which publishers earn a commission by promoting the goods or services of another retailer or advertiser. The affiliate partner receives compensation for delivering a specific result to the retailer or advertiser. KOL/influencer marketing is a popular affiliate type of marketing in China and Asia.
Currently, E-mail marketing is one of the most widely used digital marketing methods. It is the process of promoting or advertising a product or service using e-mail.
It can help make your customers aware of your latest offers or insights by integrating them into your marketing automation efforts.
However, it is less popular as a marketing channel in China for consumers except for B2B.
Understanding the China digital marketing process
The following Digital Marketing Process can be used for marketing anything on Digital Media but can also help any business succeed and achieve its objects.
Gather information and understand what your customers seek. Conduct different types of research about your target customers, and see how they interact with your brand.
Determine the internal and external factors that are favourable and unfavourable for your business to reach your goals by looking at your SWOT analysis and your Marketing Mix. But that is only the start!
A SWOT analysis helps assess a brand’s current internal and external situation but does not provide concrete strategic actions to take. One way to map out the strategic options a brand has is by using the so-called TOWS matrix (or TOWS analysis).
By combining the external environment’s opportunities and threats with the internal organisation’s strengths and weaknesses, management can produce four basic strategies to follow based on the situation it is in:
Create SMART objectives you hope to attain with your Digital Marketing Campaign. Then develop a Digital Marketing strategy incorporating Positioning, Branding, Content, and Digital Marketing Channels.
You can then create a documented plan that includes all your detailed Digital Marketing tasks as well as dates. You can then create a documented plan that includes all your detailed Digital Marketing tasks as well as dates.
Once you develop the marketing plan and strategised, promoting and advertising the products or services will commence. There are numerous digital platforms available for promoting products or services.
It’s important to start tracking your progress and evaluate the results of your digital marketing efforts using analytics. They’re measurable values that show how effective digital campaigns are. And that’s across a range of marketing projects. They can include
- Feed subscribers
- Goal completions
- Lead conversion rates
- Organic search
- Page impressions
- E-mail campaigns – delivered, opened and sent
Make modifications depending on your analysis and observations. Optimisation can reduce costs and increase sales.
Launching your digital marketing campaign in China
The main way to interact with audiences and generate new leads is through running marketing campaigns. However, starting one is much easier said than done. A marketing campaign requires planning, establishing, adapting, and growing among other things.
They carry a significant risk, one unfavourable reaction, or one poorly-timed launch might permanently damage your brand. So here is a guidance of what steps should you take to launch your digital marketing campaign in China.
How to measure the success of a marketing campaign?
Marketing is not just about ads and funny commercials, it’s about setting correct aims and achieving results. If you don’t know how to measure your success (results), it’s like throwing your money into ocean.
You need to calculate the return on investment (ROI) to judge the outcome. If it costs you more than you made (or will
ever make) on the campaign, then it’s a failure. If it cost you less than the profits you made on the campaign, then it’s a
You will also need to run several small test campaigns to discover some information in the beginning. This is useful for re-engineering your campaign budget and setting goals/targets accordingly.
Make modifications depending on your analysis and observations. Optimisation can reduce costs and increase sales.
As all-important links between marketing and new customers, monthly leads are the most crucial metric to track. Pay careful attention to whether this number is growing, lessening, or remaining steady. This will show you whether your campaign is still thriving or needs to be modernised or optimised.
You can also input that number into a simple formula to calculate your conversion rate: monthly conversions/ total monthly visitors x 100
Market Size in China
If you want to know the China market, you need to understand and fully grasp the specific market size first.
Why is it important to know the market size?
The Chinese market is one of the most promising markets in the world. Whether you are a global business, have been operating in
China for years, or are an SME looking to enter the Chinese market, you should always be aware of the current market size.
China continues to provide enormous market growth potential and investing in China is not always simple, but no other country can replace it. China has over 1.4 billion people, making it the world’s most populous country. This means that approximately one out of every five people lives in this robust economy.
In ten years, they expect the Chinese consumer spending to almost double, and you need to know your target and total addressable market for your plan. China is NOT one homogenous market but a diverse place with many different cultures, so, the strategies you use to get ahead in one region may not work elsewhere, even if it has similar circumstances or demographics!
Chinese consumers are clearly more demanding, more sensitive, and less keen on passively accepting a top-down institutional approach than other customers in the past, but their hearts can be won on their terms.
While it is true that China is a huge potential market for foreign-made goods and services, understanding where these opportunities lie and how to access them can be very difficult. It looks into various aspects of the business, but it might take weeks or even months to paint an accurate picture of the business landscape.
Market research allows you to meet your buyer, and by doing so, you’ll understand their problems, pain points, and desired solutions, which you can then implement in your strategy to appeal to them.
Regardless of which market entry mode you choose, you should conduct thorough market research before making any final decisions on how and when to enter the market.
Who can help you conduct China Market Research?
Medium-sized and large Chinese market research agencies
These companies have years of market research experience in China. Most of their clients are local or foreign that have an
established presence in China.
Foreign research agencies and consultancies
They are perfect for western clients who require Western style information delivery and client liaison capacity in the
same time zone.
Freelance Bilingual or cross-cultured market researchers
They are a good choice for foreign clients at the early stage of entering the China market or have regular research with a speed
request. You can find a researcher almost at any budget.
Freelancers can also supply you with high-quality services and handle smaller tasks quicker and at a better price.
Check out Enlybee’s new platform offering access to multilingual Chinese marketing specialists and researchers.
Three Easy Steps:
1) Search “Research”
2) Compare the options
3) Buy a Gig
China digital marketing
China Digital market needs a lot of effort to build
Expert Advice – “Your digital marketing strategy in China should be built around the digital giants BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent), but remember these are not the only platforms that can reach your audience .
Each social media platform has its own customer base, demographics, and interest groups. Only with a proper understanding of these platforms can you find the best way to run your digital marketing campaigns and reach your target audience.
Do you know more than 50% of innovation comes from the voice of the customer? Whoever understands the customer best, WINS!
According to estimates using purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, China is currently the country with the largest consumer economy. China’s economic focus has changed into a new normal which is more sustainable.
The Chinese consumer is evolving, spending less but more thoughtfully. Therefore, to understand them you’ll need to conduct thorough consumer research first.
Consumer research is a vital part of market research as it allows marketers to gain a better understanding of customer needs and wants.
Learning about your customers as individuals, what they like, how they spend their time, and what motivates them leads to more relevant content as tech and trends change but also helps your brand adapt and evolve.
Chinese consumer trends
With the rapidly expanding middle class, Chinese consumers will continue to have an outsized impact well into this century – both domestically and abroad.
These are 5 trends that are becoming increasingly apparent to Chinese consumers.
- Young Free Spenders in lower-tier cities are the drivers of consumption growth. They account for 25% of the population but 60% of total spending growth.
- Most Chinese consumers are becoming more selective, savvy, and cautious in their shopping behaviour. Consumers in higher-income cities want to save more to prepare for their future uncertainty.
- High-end Chinese brands are becoming more desirable among consumers. Instead of focusing on lower-cost items, many Chinese companies have improved the quality, performance, and value of their offers.
- Chinese consumers spend more on travel. Also, they are becoming more sophisticated and informed about how they organise their trips.
- Consumers are becoming more health-conscious. They are expecting to increase their spending on health and lifestyle-related categories.
Customer research for local preferences and cultural sensitivity
After Norwegian Cruise Lines launched a new ship specifically for the China market, they quickly realised their mistake. The boat
featured typical features of China, such as teahouses and karaoke rooms, when passengers wanted more Western-style experiences like
those found on American ships.
Another example is Home Depot in China. As a DIY store, it does not fit the needs or culture where people often reside in small apartments, and there are centuries-old traditions against “Do It Yourself ” work!
Researching your customers’ local preferences is vital for launching a new brand in China.
You can conduct different surveys, focus groups, phone interviews to examine their local needs before establishing operations and enter into China market.
The most significant challenge for foreign companies considering entering the Chinese market is an increasing number of local Chinese competitors.
In addition to local competition, many other international businesses will likely be eager to enter similar markets to yours, and only a few can share the market. The chart below depicts Chinese consumers’ preference for domestic/ foreign brands.
DO NOT underestimate the local competitor and always do research. It has never been an easy task to compete with local brands in China. They can outbid you on price and supply chain operations like Shein, which started as a $20 million investment only a few years ago!
Therefore, brands need to develop their distinctive market positioning (USP or unfair advantage) before entering China which we mentioned in an earlier chapter.
You can ask the following questions when you evaluate your competitors in China
- Who are your competitors?
- What products or services do they offer?
- What is the market share of each competitor?
- What are their digital marketing strategies?
- What digital channels do they use to sell their products or services?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of each competitor?
- What are your competitors’ possible threats?
- What possible benefits do they bring to you?
The deeper you learn from your competitors, you could learn from their weakness and strength, which will forms part of your own strength in the future.
TIPS : To prevent any entry challenges and enter the China market as smoothly as possible, we recommend collaborating with industry and market experts.
What are the common mistakes to avoid in China market?
#1 Not adhering to China’s politically correct norm
Companies conducting business in China must adhere to the One China policy to prevent repercussions from authorities and customers.
Chinese customers, particularly Gen-z, are politically sensitive to the point that they display national pride through buying decisions
#2 Insensitivity to cultural differences
When doing business in China, it’s crucial to understand the local culture and be sensitive to cultural differences.
#3 improper pricing
Brands may be well-known in Western countries, but they do not have the same prestige in China. Therefore, businesses should revise their positioning and pricing before enter to the China market.
Digital Influence Research
Digital channels are essential
- to increase brand awareness
- easier to deliver desired messages to the right set of audiences/customers
- able to spend a lower cost than the conventional media approach
To introduce your products or services, your marketing journey could start by selecting the right social media platforms and establishing WOM (Word-of-Mouth) through KOLs’ recommendations.
In doing so, the consumer base will increase, which will eventually lead to growth in sales.
The strategies used to carry out China’s digital ambitions and grow its digital influence are multifaceted and carry significant global repercussions.
How China’s digital channels transform consumer engagement
Even though COVID-19 was a driving element in encouraging digital behaviour, Chinese consumers were more digitally receptive than
their global peers.
China had already outperformed the rest of the world in terms of digital development and adoption before COVID-19. There is no doubt that digital technology will dominate every aspect of social interactions and daily life.
During the pandemic, two digital trends have been notable accelerations in China.
These are community group buying and live commerce.
These trends raise the bar for online social interaction and expand the reach of e-commerce to more consumers.
You can get help from conducting digital influence research on trends about your target customers’ online influence dynamics.
An example of digital influence research:
- The age range for your target audience
- Where can you find them – locality (cities/region where most of them are)
- Top 5 interests for the target audience – e.g., new technologies, life hacks, personal wellness
- Top 5 sources they trust – e.g., KOL, customer reviews, statistics, word of mouth
- Top 5 channels where they read and watch content- e.g., Online news, stream movies, information portals, user-generated content, social media channels
- Top 5 digital information portals or platforms they use – e.g., theverge.com, cnet.com Online news, streaming movies, information portals, etc.
A localisation strategy should be a crucial part of any company’s international business plan, addressing customer behaviour, purchasing habits and cultural difference in each country where they operate.
The trick is finding that balance between staying true to your brand while still resonating with the local audiences and not losing its appeal.
What is different about the China market?
In the past, stores in China had to focus on mass-produced products. That is not necessary anymore because consumers want niche brands with individualised attention now more than ever.
TIPS : Chinese consumers love digital and social media. Online shopping is huge in China, with many people using it to share their experiences or seek reviews from others before making a purchase decision.
How to localise your brand?
Overcome the language barriers and cultural differences
Individuals speak English in parts of China like big cities, but it’s not the official language. As you many already know the Chinese language is a constellation of dialects, local varieties, traditional forms, and official terms.
They use the simplified Chinese characters in Mainland China, compared to traditional Chinese used in Hong Kong.
TIPS : Many well-known western brands have leveraged having “Returned China” international students as KOC for their China market to initial market entry strategies which proved successful.
Researching your customers’ local preferences is vital for launching a new brand in China.
Find some top talents via our platform to help you conduct any research or localisation project at any budget.
Build a Website
Perhaps the most important strategy for targeting Chinese customers, the first step is to create a Chinese website. However, launching a Chinese version of your website can be intense if you don’t know where to start.
To start, building a website for Chinese consumers is not just about translating your English website into a Chinese version one. Sure, it looks like the most simple way possible, however, your potential consumers are quite unique and different from the consumers all over the world.
When you start to build a Chinese website, keep in mind and reflect on these unique points if you want to compete and dominate in China market.
Web design: make it appeal to Chinese netizens
Chinese website design differs in many ways from that of the West. For example, Chinese websites use a horizontal design at the top of the page below the major navigation bar, while Western websites use sidebars that extend vertically down from the left side of the page.
Western websites typically use whitespace and visuals to draw attention. Chinese websites frequently use all available page space for content. Information is divided into smaller chunks so that users can browse more categories before picking which one to click on for further information.
Optimise for Chinese search engine
A search engine algorithm is a set of rules to determine a page’s significance. Baidu is the search engine that is the same as Google in China. When the Chinese need to look something up, they go to Baidu.
Baidu employs a unique search algorithm that affects how high a website is ranked.
However, Google’s SEO is completely different from Baidu’s SEO, in order for your website to rank highly in China. You’ll need to tailor for Chinese search engines like Baidu.
Here are some articles where you could know more about Baidu as a search engine.
Understanding that Baidu is China’s version of Google will be crucial to your success in marketing in China.
Design a mobile friendly website
By the end of 2020, 1.22 billion people subscribed to mobile services in China, which similar to 83% of the China’s population. Internet users in China spent on average 28.5 hours per week online, which equals to about 4 hours of daily online time, mostly mobile.
Therefore, building a mobile friendly website will give your brand more visibility to customers.
Obviously, if you are conducting B2B and the majority of your leads contact you via desktop, the loss will be less severe but bear in mind
that, like Google, Baidu now promotes mobile-friendly websites. Have both when designing your Chinese website.
Successful SEO is not about tricking Baidu. It’s about PARTNERING with Baidu to provide the best search results for Baidu’s users. Just as I mentioned at the top, Baidu is without a doubt the top search engine in China. You’ll need a thorough grasp of how to optimise for the search giant to be genuinely effective in China SEO.
Baidu SEO has its own distinct and difficult environment, which includes cultural differences, regulation considerations, significant linguistic challenges, technological factors and much more. The more you understand about Baidu SEO the more you can rank highly and means that customers can find your website more easily.
When registering a domain name, choose a domain name that is easy for users to remember. If your business using a local server then you might need to apply for an ICP ( Internet Content Publishing) license with a .cn domain.
In addition, the speed and stability of the server and space impact the user experience as well as search engine crawling. They recommend a server with stable service and fast speed, located in China or at least Hong Kong.
Nevertheless, bear in mind that your ICP license must be visible in the website’s footer. However, hosting on a Chinese server and obtaining an ICP license, are not prerequisites for success.
What do you need to work on for Baidu SEO?
- Technical Search engine optimisation
In on-page optimisation, you need to optimise each webpage with the proper keyword in an easily digestible way, including relevant content and keywords in strategic, key locations throughout the page. The goal is to let search engines (Baidu) understand what each page is about.
Off-page creates high authority backlinks which help to increase authority and bring better results in the form of clicks and impressions.
Technical Optimisation is to index your Chinese website on Baidu search engines through structure, website visits, engagement, etc.
- code structure
- site architecture
- site speed, site stability
There’s good news for you! Technical Optimisation/SEO for Baidu share some similarities with Google. Therefore, if your site has already been optimised for Google, you’re halfway there to finish your optimising for Baidu.
For content-based websites
- Core Value – loyal users
- Main Goal – Converting search engine users into loyal users
For social networking sites
- Core Value – registered users
- Main Goal – have users on your platform register & participate in activities
For e-commerce websites
- Core Value – selling things
- Main Goal – sell to customers
When calculating search engine revenue, the conversion rate should be most crucial metric to consider.
The choice of website domain name not only allows users to quickly and intuitively understand website positioning and domain name settings, but also affects how the search crawls the website. Therefore, choosing a simple, easy-to-remember and secure domain name is the most important step in the early stage of website construction.
A reasonable setting of website structure is the basis for the website to be quickly crawled and obtain search traffic. Due to the unreasonable website structure setting, the cases that the website cannot be quickly identified and crawled are often seen in Baidu’s daily feedback. Pay attention to the website structure setting from the beginning of the establishment of the website to avoid unnecessary losses.
Service Provider/ Self-built server
Choosing a service provider or self-built server is a very important and basic part of website construction; server security and stability will directly affect Baidu search engine’s overall judgment of the website.
When too much website dead link data accumulates and is displayed on the search result page, it has a negative impact on the website’s own visiting experience and user conversion. On the other hand, Baidu’s process of checking dead links will also bring an extra burden to the website, affecting the crawling and indexing of other normal pages of the website.
There are two points to consider for the main content development. One is that the main content is too long (usually the length of the source code of the webpage cannot exceed 128k). When the article is too long, it may cause crawling truncation. The other is that the content cannot be empty and too short. This content will be judged as worthless content value.
Learn more about Baidu SEO : Ultimate Guide to Baidu SEO
If your business is trying to enter the market in China, then using Baidu SEM (PPC) could be a quick way to start. In terms of Baidu PPC, these are the four ad categories they offer
- Search – Text ads on Baidu Search results
- Display – Image ads on websites that are part of its display network
- In-Feed/Native – Sponsored ads that blend with organic content
- Brand Zone – Display one brand at a time for keywords, which helps brands to dominate.
Why choose Baidu PPC ?
You can promote your brand through large Baidu Traffic:
- 6 billion +Baidu daily search response
- 15 billion Baidu Feeds daily recommendations
- 3.4 million Baijahao content creators
- 200 million +APP daily activity volume
- 1 billion Baidu feeds advertisement daily impression
Baidu PPC agency service on Enlybee Marketplace
The basic documents for Baidu PPC account opening:
1) Colour scanned copy of Business Registration Certificate *1, stamped or signed
2) Screenshot of landing page (including URL) *1, stamped or signed
3) Screenshot of the company’s official registration query page (including URL) *1, stamped or signed
4) Company bank statement or payment slip *1, stamped or signed
(The company’s full name, bank name, and bank account name are necessary contents and other content can be selectively blurred)
The social landscape in China is unique, and marketers need to understand what they cannot do. Without access to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in China, you will have a harder time connecting with your audience.
So, get acquainted with the Chinese versions of each one to start. Learn how people use these sites differently from their Western counterparts so your content will resonate more authentically.
Some of the top social media channels in China:
In the last few years, WeChat has evolved from mobile messaging into a super-app that meets all Chinese consumers’ needs in their daily lives. It offers from online events, mobile games, bookings, promotions, and other loyalty-building services.
Without leaving the app, the users can browse “Moments” published by friends, make digital payments or transfer money to others via WeChat Pay, follow brands and influencers, read news and articles, play games, and shop on mini-programs.
Chinese consumers are placing increasing value on peer-to-peer product reviews before purchasing.
In addition to the KOL marketing as other social media networks, Xiaohongshu pioneered the emerging trend of KOCs (Key Opinion Consumers) in China, who build new consumer communities, and influenced other shoppers.
Also, the younger Chinese consumers have strong interests to co-create with the brands they feel connected to, and it will attract more users to join.
Weibo is considered the Chinese Twitter, but as the second-largest social media network in China, with more than 550 million monthly active users, it is now more than a microblogging platform.
Weibo provides many advertising choices, including as followed
- organic content marketing
- traditional micro-blogging
- live streams
- short videos
You can also invest in paid advertising such as trending hashtags and display advertising.
Douyin (Tik Tok)
As the Chinese original of the fast-growing short video app TikTok, Douyin has reached over 600 million daily active users by August 2020.
With diversified content creators, this app attracts a massive population of younger individuals; nearly half of Douyin’s users in China are between the ages of 19 – 30.
Utilising social media, you may find online discussions and reconsider your brand messaging with your target audience in mind. By doing this, it may be possible to develop a more strategic and effective strategy to meet the ever-evolving demands of consumers.
Collaboration helps businesses by combining ability, knowledge, technology, and consumer research. Both businesses with thrive as a result of their collaborated efforts to help one another.
Identifying potential partners
There are many ways to enter the Chinese market. You can create a digital presence directly or develop partners inside China.
You might encounter some challenges in identifying potential commercial partners for your business.
#Challenge 1 Lack of time
Your team is focused on existing markets and can’t spend months investigating a new country in search of a distributor who would generate new sales.
Chinese local talents on Enlybee Marketplace will open the market and qualify all potential partners for you. No need to spend weeks in the country searching for the right targets to approach.
#Challenge 2 Costly
Finding partners in a country and market you are unfamiliar with can be costly. Asking your staff to come to China to visit many tradeshows is a significant investment you do not want to make.
Looking for a Chinese market researcher through our platform who provides a service that minimises the costs.
#Challenge 3 Lack of knowledge
You have not explored the market yet, and you have no idea whether there are partners available in China. You do not know if there is any market share to grab, and you noticed the local distributors are hard to find.
Chinese local specialists on our platform speak the language of your potential distributors. They can search the market extensively to identify potential partners.
You can also get help from bilingual or cross-culture talent to outreach to potential agents, distributors and partners via email, or arrange a meeting and negotiate deals for you.
Influence marketing is a great way to help you reach new audiences, increase brand awareness, and boost your marketing ROI.
What is KOL?
First of all, KOL is an abbreviation for Key Opinion Leader.
KOL is a spokesperson, a brand ambassador, or a thought leader. They are internet celebrities on Chinese social media platforms. They have more importance and relevance than mass media because they can connect and relate to their audience.
But it’s worth nothing that KOL is not the same as internet influencers. Many people confuse these two ideas. KOLs refer to
experts in a particular area of expertise who have a strong influence.
KOLs with enough influence may then become what we call influencers. In other words, KOLs are usually also influencers, but an influencer is not necessarily a KOL.
Leveraging Chinese KOLs in your marketing plan in China is critical if you want to build customer trust and increase your visibility.
Why are key opinion leaders so important in China?
Chinese KOLs, as opposed to western influencers, can communicate easily with their fan base. Also, Chinese consumers
highly rely on word-of-mouth when buying a product; recommendations from people they follow on social media
Chinese KOLs are professionals in the social media sphere. They know how to distinguish themselves, promote and sell products, and present the advantages of your products.
The benefit of KOLs for your marketing strategy
1) KOLs can help you target your idea audience
A KOL can help you quickly identify and reach your ideal audience. For example, let’s say your business sells organic juice products. Your product is relatively niche, so you don’t need to introduce it to everyone when attracting and engaging new leads.
Rather than posting Google ads, you might be better off reaching out to a KOL, who has 1 million followers and posts content exclusively related to health and fitness.
2) A KOL can help you generate sales
KOLs can help you attract attention to a new product or raise awareness of your brand, both of which can help you boost sales.
How to find the right KOLs for your marketing effort in China?
A KOL has millions of followers, but that does not mean that it can guarantee the effectiveness of its marketing campaign.
The key point lies in the fact that companies must pick the right KOLs to attract the right audience and maximise the benefits of their campaigns. In many cases, micro-KOLs have a high interaction rate of 60% and can provide brands with more successful conversion results. In such a large industry, you need the right tools to find the appropriate KOLs that effectively promote your brand and products.
Before getting into practice, you also need to think about questions like, What your brand is trying to achieve with KOL Marketing, What platform fits your goals the best, and How and where to find the right Chinese influencers to represent your brand and achieve your China goals?
The different types of key opinions leaders in China
When it comes to Chinese KOLs, they are three main categories you need to know:
KOLs are influencers who generate financial value through their content and interactions with consumers. They often collaborate with multiple brands simultaneously, sharing their thoughts with their audience. They also specialise in one area and may provide as many details as possible to persuade people to purchase your products.
Micro-KOLs: Unlike KOLs with millions of followers, micro-KOLs have roughly 250,000 followers. Because of their smaller base, they interact with community members more frequently, and working with them will be less pricey for you.
KOCs are known as Key Opinion Customers. Brands and products they recommend gain greater authority than KOLs because they are ordinary buyers. They give honest evaluations about a product they purchased while being unbiased. KOCs are taking up more room in brand China KOL marketing strategies.
What is the difference between KOL and KOC marketing?
KOL (Key Opinion Leaders)
- KOLs are categorised by the number of followers such as, Micro-influencers (5000-1K) and Celebrities (millions)
- The popular social media ‘influences’ in China
- Followers of KOLs are aware of the paid collaborations between brands and influencers, hence the authenticity is not as strong as KOC
- Brands proactively approach a KOL and provide them cash or product incentives for promoting their products and services
KOC (Key Opinion Consumers)
- They are not paid to promote products
- Their ‘promotion’ usually comes in the form of organic, self-directed reviews
- They’re more likely to have far fewer-followers and are common customers
- KOC has more credibility among audiences as product testing and reviewing is their experience
To be competitive in an ever-evolving market, companies need to keep up with the times and use reliable and suitable KOLs to become live streamers for their brands.
An indicative example of this emerged last year when several brands and Douyin partnered with Luo Yonghao, the Chinese founder of smartphone manufacturer Smartisan, who has over 7.8 million followers on Douyin and sells a variety of products on the platform, generating over 110 million RMB in sales during the three-hour live broadcast!
This shows that the potential of ‘Live streaming E-Commerce’ comes not only from real product demonstrations but also from the actual interaction between fans and approachable KOLs.
What do you need to notice?
Distinguish between genuine and fake KOL data
When choosing to work with KOLs, brands should look carefully at the content of their past posts and examples of collaboration. It is important to note that “fake data” is a common phenomenon in KOL marketing; from the number of followers to the number of interactions, there may be cases of data fraud.
According to one agency, nearly 20% of the traffic of top anchors comes from fake accounts. Among the smaller volume anchors, the figure rises to 30%.
If you want to get the real data on KOLs, then brands should not only look at the data on the surface of their homepage or the data provided by MCN agencies.
As much as possible, it is important to delve into the accounts and previous content posted by KOLs through data analysis platforms that target KOL research to assess the actual interaction reference of their content.
Building long-term KOL partnerships
Brands should find KOLs with whom they can build a long-term relationship rather than a one-off collaboration. Of course, mutually long-term beneficial relationships take time, so brands should not rush into them.
After an initial screening of KOLs to find the best fit, brands must continually evaluate all aspects of the partnership, from campaign performance to how the KOL presents the brand or product in the content, before selecting the right person for a long-term partnership.
Michael Jordan has maintained a relationship with Nike for decades after he retired from the basketball court.
In addition to events, giving gifts can be an effective way to maintain a long-term relationship with a KOL (and the brand may also get some free exposure).
The majority of B2B businesses find entering the China market scary because there are so many potential traps that must be avoided. “Knowing and not doing is the same as not knowing.” Keep exploring and experimenting with China digital marketing. Although there are many challenges that you need to overcome, the outcomes when you success could be huge impacts to your business.
Thankfully, the advantages of developing business in China continue to outweigh this disadvantages as the country’s economy expands and becomes more accessible to global industries.
However, China undergoes perpetual change, and its marketplaces are developing faster than almost anywhere else on the planet. As a result, there is no one strategy that works for all international businesses looking to enter and dominate the China market.
The China strategy of each company is likely to be influenced by a wide range of variables, including the company size, industry sector, culture, long-term business objectives, product type, and corporate vision.
Any foreign business would like to enter in the China market, here is some Dos and Don’ts that your business should take into consideration.
Your conventional techniques can ensure your victories in the majority of other markets, which are less interesting than China.
Researcher can show you how and where to compete with your rivals in China so you can more effectively focus your products and take a big share of this valuable market. It may also assist you in developing a China strategy that produces outcomes that actually matter and deliver results that make a real difference.
Join our community to explore how we might be able to assist you in developing your China market entrance plan if you’re thinking about entering the Chinese market.