China: 6 Effective strategies for Industrial Companies
If you are a sales manager, a CEO in China or in charge of the development of the Chinese market:
-You want to develop your sales?
-You want find new clients?
-Develop in new market?
-Want to do effective B2B marketing in China
-You want to know last trends for industrial companies in China in 2022?
THIS ARTICLE IS FOR YOU
The year 2022 has been a real roller coaster and has been marked by many
economic, energetic, and political events and challenges.
The spring’s highlight has been the massive lockdown in Shanghai. Because of
its zero covid policy, Shanghai’s 25 million people population has been stuck
at home for 2 long months. Paralyzing the whole economic, commercial,
industrial, and logistic…activities of a city producing a GDP of 645 billion
dollars in 2021.
Summer was exceptional, with severe heat waves that stroked major hydraulic
power-producing provinces like Sichuan. The Chinese government had to restrict
the use of electricity, impacting widely the production tool.
In the autumn, the major event was the 20th congress of the Chinese
Communist Party. Unsurprisingly, Xi Jinping secured a third term.
Chinese President Xi Jinping poses for his annual new year address on the eve of 2022 on Dec 31, 2021 in Beijing.
An interesting fact is that the president has focused on the importance of
the FDI and plan to implement new measures to encourage them, especially in
R&D, the modernization of logistic, and industries. Progressing toward the
0-carbon emissions objective set by China for 2060, he also wants to encourage
China still needs foreign technologies and innovations.
This fall, 2 new foreign factories started their production. Rosenberg, an EV cable manufacturer
in Guangdong, and BASF in Jiangsu produce plastic for the EV industry as well.
China needs these foreign companies to cope with the rising demand for electric
Despite slowdowns during the first semester because of the mentioned events,
Chinese production increased by 6.3 % in September compared with the same month
last year. Helped by governmental measures.
This introduction brings hope and optimism to all the B2B companies who want
to jump into the market, the opportunities are still big. The important thing
is to stay aware of the changes and be ready to adapt to the market.
In terms of strategy for B2B companies in the Chinese market, marketing
plays a central role to succeed. Some companies with great potential failed in
this market for neglecting its importance. Facing the limitation of travel and
the digitalization of trade, marketing has increasing importance in China.
How to make sure to implement a good marketing strategy for B2B business in
China in 2022.
With more than 1 billion Chinese netizens, China has already deployed a
massive digitalization. As an illustration, banknotes are disappearing slowly
replaced by the digital payment monopolized by WeChat pay and Alipay. (The
first-tier to third-tier netizens use digital payments to pay up to 80% of what
1- The digitalization of businesses in China
The trend toward digitalization of businesses has been accelerated since the
massive lockdowns at the beginning of 2022. Tight controls making travels
(even) inside China hard to plan. As an illustration, this year visitors to the
5th China International Import Expo, in Shanghai, must face strict requirements
to access the event. (Be vaccinated and have received a booster 14 days before
entering the event, 2 PCR tests, providing their travel history of the last 10
days, not having traveled in places with covid cases…).
The online visibility of industrial companies who want to develop their business in
China is the cornerstone of their success to reach Chinese buyers. What are the
key points to reach them in 2022?
Beforehand, it is important how the Chinese buyer proceed to reach
suppliers. Even before the Covid 19 and the closure of the Chinese borders,
Chinese buyers tend to source their suppliers and partners online. Also pushed
by the tiredness of the non-stop flow of commercial phone calls and mailing.
They have been using the Chinese internet, the leader of search engines being
Baidu, to find their suppliers. And the trend has accelerated since the zero
covid policy seems to be durable in the eyes of the Chinese top leaders. Using
the Chinese digital tool is more than ever crucial to reach your Chinese
buyers. You have to make sure that the tools you are using will be instinctive
and sufficiently comprehensive for the buyers to have a smoother experience
with you, and convince them to go further with you.
2- Your Website
Your website is like your showcase, the first contact point with your
Chinese buyers. You must take special care of it.
An English version will not be suitable. Even if more and more Chinese speak
English, they don’t do their research in English. After all, you would not do
your online research in Chinese on Google, right?
Having a website in mandarin is mandatory. Not only for the buyer’s comfort
but also because the Chinese search engines don’t reference well English
content. And make sure to get a translation of high quality to avoid confusion
made by automatic translation.
No linkedin, no Google
Another thing that foreign realize at first is that the Chinese internet is
cut from the outside world. China has its own internet « ecosystem ». Because
of the great firewall, the Chinese don’t have access to content outside of
China, no google, no Facebook, no Instagram, no LinkedIn…Meaning that if your
website is hosted in the EU, USA…Chinese users won’t have access to it. The
solution is therefore to host your website locally either in China Mainland or
Hong Kong to make sure your site will be accessible on Baidu.
Please note as well, that since the censorship on the Chinese internet is
stronger and stronger, make sure not to share “sensible” content that could
block your website. (e.g.: Xinjiang related topic or more surprising avoid
mentioning Winnie the Poo, a nickname given by the Chinese to their president,
that doesn’t seem to please him)
3- Your ranking on Baidu
Competition in China is fierce for industrial companies, and the digital space makes no exception. To
be found easily on the Chinese internet you need to have a solid SEO strategy
dedicated to Baidu.
The choice of the right keywords is as important on Baidu as it is on Google
to arrive on the first page. The use of generic keywords is expensive and it
long to get referenced. Using long-tailed keywords is more efficient to
optimize your strategy. For example, if you are a manufacturer of cables for
electric vehicles, don’t invest in generic keywords like “cable”, but something
like “high-end cables for electric vehicles”. Take time to analyze the
conversion rate of the keywords. Some have less research volume but have a
higher conversion rate.
Being well-referenced means that buyers will find you easily, which also
implies that you will receive requests (leads) from potential clients.
Depending on the industry, it is possible with this strategy to receive
hundreds of requests per month. All the demands from China in your industry can
be attracted and centralized easily and efficiently. It is with a good SEO
strategy and a strong reputation strategy that one of our clients, a major
manufacturer of card printing machines, succeeded in China and gains 10 new
customers each month. Where a classic commercial strategy with a full-time team
of 10 sales failed using phone calls and mailing.
4-Your reputation matter in China
It is the keystone, the cement for your success, it is an element that is
mostly neglected but it is the most important for your marketing strategy as an industrial firm.
Because in China, what is important is what people say about you, not what
you are saying. Your reputation outside of China will have no importance. But
what is said in China about your company and products will be seen as a
reference by potential buyers. Because the market is full of scams and fakes,
the Chinese will not grant you any trust in newcomers in the market if they
don’t have a strong reputation here.
It is therefore crucial to work on your word of mouth in the Chinese digital
Chinese buyers will check your reputation prior to making any business with
you. They will check online for advice, feedback from their peers, and your
users to evaluate your credibility.
They have different online tools to do so :
*Forums: In China, the use of specialized forums for the search of info is
very common, it is a reflex to check on companies’ credibility. The biggest and
most used forum in China is called Zhihu. Buyers will ask questions here or
look for posts related to you, if some users already have some positive
experience with you, what did they think about your services…
*Online articles: B2B Chinese buyers read a lot of online specialised press
to keep up with the news in their industries. It is seen as a reliable source
to evaluate the reputation of a company. The online press is considered
reliable, so if some speak about you it will reinforce your image.
* KOL: I guess you are surprised? We are not talking about the fashion kind
of influencers. We are thinking of recognized professional experts in their
industry that can speak about your company and your products. Chinese
influencers agencies have catalogs with influencers for all kinds of
businesses. Industrial buyers also rely on, and trust, the advice of these influents
professionals to evaluate your reputation.
5- Social media in China : be connected to your potential clients
Social media play a non-neglecting and more and more important role for B2B
companies who want to reach their Chinese buyers. Indeed, they are fully
integrated into Chinese personal and professional life.
Wechat is without a doubt the most ubiquitous one. They use it to pay, buy
online, take appointments…and mostly used it as their favorite mean of
communication. Their whole life revolves around this app.
It is therefore used to keep in touch with their suppliers, and professional
partners. Almost every company in China has an official account on WeChat. Used
a way to communicate with their client, helping them to share their information
easily (mini website, e-brochure, news…). A company without a Wechat account
reduces its chances to maintain contact with its potential clients, nurture
them, and transform them into clients.
If WeChat is the must-have social media app for B2B companies, some new «
trends » are surprising. Indeed, more and more Chinese B2B companies use apps
like Douyin (TikTok) to reach younger B2B Chinese buyers. Companies share on
this app short videos showing the application of their products in real
situation use. They can also have their own company page where interested
buyers can contact them via a form.
6- The use of e-commerce platforms
It is interesting to see that more and more factories, B2B buyers are using e-commerce
platforms to buy what they need online. The value of the B2B transaction on
e-commerce platforms reached 29.11 billion RMB last year, against only 6.25
billion ten years ago.
The B2B e-commerce market can be divided into 2 categories: on one side the
generalist platforms like Gongpinyouxuan, 1688… and on the other side
e-commerce platforms specialized by industry: chemical, electronic, agriculture…
They are still opportunities to seize in China. A lot of events have
influenced and will continue to influence an accelerating trend toward
digitalization of the buying practices of B2B buyers in China. Be ready.
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