China consumers love well-known brands. In the eyes of the consumers this brands mean reliability, quality and social prestige. For these brands it means more sales and more deals. Fortunately there are practices that can help you with branding in China. It won’t be easy but it is achievable.
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Why should you work hard on your branding in china?
Chinese consumers are looking for reliability when purchasing online. They are well aware of the counterfeit and poor quality products leading them to buy in a smarter way. In that regards, compulsory buy are not a thing even in a country where it is so easy to buy in a few clicks.
Being a well-known brand in China is a solid sales argument
In China there is something we like to call queuing phenomena. If you have the chance to visit China you might encounter peoples queuing for hours even just to buy an ice-cream. Why that? If a place is busy, it must be good, and the longer the queue is, the longer are people willing to wait. It works the same with brands. Sales leading to more sales and getting consumers paying attention to your brand. Getting peoples talking about you is key to success, as long as it is positive.
A well-known brand is often associated to quality. As we said more and more Chinese consumers are looking for quality over quantity nowadays. They are concern about health and environment.
A third point to mention is linked to a very Chinese social construct, “Mianzi”, Face in English. The degree of Mianzi someone has in China will reflect how well his counterparts treat him. Buying well-known brand can help with this. Why? Well, they are often more expensive than Chinese brands therefore one can show off his financial status buy big brands. Offering products from expensive brand as a gift is a great to show off both your wealth and generosity making you look extremely good.
Brand is a life style – Each brand carries values and a specific identity which consumers will consider when buying. This is also related to the Mianzi and the way peoples wants to be seen.
Being a popular brand in China comes with benefits
Not only being a well-known brand will get you more sales but it will also open you some doors. You’ll soon discovers that to sell in China you need retailers. Retailers that won’t be willing to work with a start-up our unknown brand simply because they know the risk of being a total stranger on the Chinese market.
Having a good reputation increase your mianzi but also your connection or Guanxi. Having the good connection is in the center of Chinese business model and will help you to get the best deals.
Well known brand get invited to all kind of event where they can promote themselves even more when small company won’t get any. You could as well organize your own event? Well, if no one know one brand, it is going to be hard to get peoples coming. Indeed, walking into an event organized by another unknown brand among the 1000 of others brands does not have the prestige of being invited at Gucci event for instance. Time is a resource that can’t be wasted.
Talking about prestige, giants brands often get discount on their rents and sweet deals with locals businesses. They will have priorities over smaller brand and get the best spots.
Last point we would like to talk about it is hiring talents. In China, there is a preference for well-known brand. As it feel safer to buy for a brand you know about, it feels safer to work for a company you know about. Never ever say you are a start-up if you wanna keep your locals employees. Talents also tends to ask for more money when working for a small company that for a big brand. Safety before all, in china trust has to be deserved and locals tend to be a suspicious with peoples that do not belong to their social circle.
How to build your brand a name in the Chinese market?
Now that we’ve explained you some of the most important reasons why you need to brand yourself, we can introduce you to some of the most efficient methods to do so.
Online Presence: SEO, SEM & Wechat
Your marketing effort should be focused on the digital, you want people to hear about your brand and your values. Chinese consumers are extremely connected and have this habit of looking up online for information.
To start with, create a website in mandarin language. It will have to be hosted on locals servers. This 2 details are extremely important for your SEO ranking. The most used search engines in China is Baidu with close to 70% of the users using it for their researches. In short, you won’t be able to rank if you have a foreign language website hosted on a foreign server.
Take advantage of Baidu SEM tools. There are 2 types of campaigns, one is based on PPC and is your classic keyword based campaigns, usually tho, the higher the bid the higher the chances ranking. Another type is the brand zone campaigns. Buy a list of KW, pay monthly. Usually used by big brand but also suitable for smaller brand with a less expensive option. The brand zone campaigns is great cause it allows you more freedom in the way you can personalize your ads and take almost half of the screen of users when doing researches. They also have a higher CTR than PPC campaigns and are strongly focused on brand content.
Once you are set online, create a Wechat official page for your brand. Wechat is the most used app in China. It has close to 1 billions monthly users and is a great communication tool. It can be used to shared content, as a CRM or as an e-commerce platform. Wechat is great for branding as it is a social media and quality content can go viral very fast bringing you a lot of traffic. However, branding on Wechat is a real effort and takes time.
We said it earlier, Chinese consumers tends to be suspicious and trust easily. This lack of trust comes from the cultural revolution where being reported for not committing fully to the new party in place or because your neighbor did not like you was a common thing. They also do not really trust official sources and would rather turn on others users experience. You can take this to your advantage by being everywhere your audience is looking for information. There are 2 principals sources of information online for users.
Social media and Forums.
Weibo for the social media & for the forum Baidu tieba, douban, dianping, zhihu… and the list goes on are place where internet users like to share their experiences and are looking for information about products. There is an excellent opportunity for your brand to integrate these communities and communicate about your brand, learn about what your audience is looking for as well as feeding the dialogue. The more topic about you, the easier it will be to find you on internet as well.
Key opinion leaders are powerful peoples and Chinese social media. They are well trusted by internet user and a partnership with a kol that is a good fit for your products and values could mean an immediate gain of popularity and peoples starting to get interested in your brand.
You can work with them throughout diverse channels and a variety of campaigns from a review, to a product placement, to banners, videos… It will depend on both your budget and your products.
When planning your strategy for the Chinese market, never forget the power of a good reputation. The word of mouth is the keyword to keep in mind. Getting one community talking about on the Chinese internet could mean the beginning of something much bigger for you like a domino effect. Be patient, and get your community manager to work hard spreading your value and getting users interested in you.
You have a business in China and are struggling to create an active community around your brand? Contact us, at GMA we are specialized on Chinese marketing with a strong focus on branding.