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 Cleantech FDI. 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 vehicles. 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 they buy)

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 space. 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. China PR - press release - B2B Marketing education market * 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. Read more
B2B in China: Guide to Master Lead Generation (2022)

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.
WeChat B2B Marketing in China
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…
20 tips for B2B companies to succeed in China
How to Develop a Service Company in China in 2021? (Lawyer, IT Software, Consulting, Agency …)
B2B in China: Guide to Master Lead Generation (2022)


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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