Those who face the problem of intercepting the Chinese market with digital marketing should first of all keep in mind the first steps to be taken from a purely strategic point of view. Although it is geographically distant and culturally very different from us, China today represents a market of almost infinite potential and for this reason it is essential to be able to reach it using the right digital marketing tools.
The profound revision of its corporate strategy and the real understanding of the target market represent the first step to take. Knowing the tastes and expectations of Chinese consumers, knowing which tools they use to identify them and favoring their purchase methods are the ones that will follow.
Let’s start with some preliminary data:
- China has a population of 1, 4 billion people
- 751 million people are digitally connected on the territory
- On average, 8 out of 10 potential Chinese customers use the web daily
- The average daily online browsing time of the Chinese audience is 6 and a half hours
- 26 hours per day are spent surfing on mobile devices
- 2 hours a day are dedicated to the use of social networks
- Internet penetration in China today is still only 50%
The latter figure is incredibly interesting because it offers an idea of the magnitude expected for the years to come: the potential for spreading the Chinese digital market is in fact still booming.
Now let’s talk about more practical questions: what are the marketing channels to refer to in order to expand your market to China? In general terms, these are search engines, ecommerce platforms and social media. However, the giants of these sectors are not the ones we know about.
- In China, the most used search engine is not Google but Baidu (75% of online queries), while the big G collects only 1.7% of searches and, as a rule, is used by foreigners living in China
- Baidu is not only a search engine, but a real network that also offers other platforms:
- Baidu Baike, homologous to our Wikipedia
- Baidu Tieba, counterpart to our Google Plus
It goes without saying that any digital marketing content intended for the Chinese market must therefore be calibrated, structured and optimized for these platforms, and declined in the local language.
As for social networks and instant messaging systems , it is also important to remember that in China Instagram, Facebook or WhatsApp are not used or, at least, not mainly. On the contrary, almost the entire market “pie” is destined for extremely advanced local platforms, the main ones of which are:
- Weibo: it is a sort of mix between the most well-known western social networks (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) and is widely used by companies, organizations and even Chinese celebrities who wish to interface directly with their target audience. It also allows the creation of microblogs, surveys and sharing of multimedia content through rather advanced functions, as well as the use of real time news.
- WeChat: born as a messaging platform, it now boasts very advanced and innovative functions that allow reservations for various services, the possibility of following official brand pages, money transfers, offline and online payments (WeChatPay) and much more.
Particular attention must then be paid to ecommerce in China, which has been the first in the world for this sector since 2013: to date, one Chinese out of two visits and buys at online stores at least once a month.
Again, we won’t have to refer to the most popular platforms in the West as to:
- Tmall and JD: Chinese equivalents of the giant Amazon, and capable of invoicing hundreds of billions of dollars a year
Finally, some practical advice. To expand in China, a series of cultural and social factors will need to be re-evaluated, the most important of which are:
- The brand or product name: it must be easy to pronounce, remember and have no negative meaning or reference in local languages
- The calendar: Chinese holidays and celebrations are very different from ours and the agenda of activities must therefore be declined accordingly
- The colors: they have a very precise meaning in China, and must therefore be considered with the utmost attention
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