There are the most common mistakes to avoid to enter successfully China market for western SME
Not adapting to Chinese culture or to the Chinese digital environment
You cannot just copy your western strategy or digital marketing strategy to China. It would be a failure, and would cost you a lot of money.
You cannot make mistake about China cultural codes.
Also there is a need for localization of your brand but it is important to have right level of localization. Localization is more than just translation. You need think about key visuals, brand designs, key messages….localization is about finding the parts that need to be changed to make Chinese consumers more receptive to the brand, rather than change everything. When localizing your brand, you need change how consumers relate to it.
The China digital landscape is also different, and you must use the Chinese social media to develop awareness of your brand. Chinese people. You cannot use google or facebook, and it is useless to do digital marketing using your western website.
Misunderstanding of Chinese consumers in terms of behaviours or expectations
The Chinese consumers are different, have different tastes and requirements. Before selling your products, you need to check about the Chinese market, the local offer, Chinese consumers preferences. It really depends also on consumers groups (Chinese provinces, ages,…).
Chinese society, consumer mindsets are always evolving, and brands should adapt to new context and market trends post Covid-19:
- After Covid 19, the main values for Chinese consumers have become safety, be healthy, well-being in home. In the past, be successful and be wealthy were at the top priorities
- Milleniums and Gen Z are looking for environmental friendly products, It was already a trend which has accelerated post Covid. They expect that the brands that they buy from to have an ethical stance both environmentally, socially and health
- Growing environmental concerns push consumers willingness to buy eco-friendly products in China, boosted by on-line shopping platforms and government push
When marketing products, brands need to make sure that they address the largest concerns that consumers have for each one.
Without a proper approach, brands can waste a lot of money and time to succeed in their China business development.
Underestimating the complexity of Chinese market
Brands need to understand what they are able to offer, and how it can fit into the Chinese lifestyle. Competition is fierce with local brands.
Chinese demands are not homogeneous across the country. China market is quite complex and is the size of a continent. China is a very large country with long distance between provinces. Culture from North China is very different from Guandong province for instance. Customers expectations is quite different in Tier 1 cities versus low tier cities. Many international brands are ignoring the fast growth of low tier cities which is a mistake. But to reach low tier cities consumers, you may need to have a specific offer.
The complexity comes also from the digital environment as there are so many digital apps to reach consumers depending on your target. The brands need to choose communication points that will appeal specifically their target audience.
Also a digital strategy must be omnichannel in China as you need to reach consumer with about 10 touch points versus 3 in western world , which requires more investment. However branding must remains consistent over all touchpoints which requires proper planning and execution.
Not having strong brand or not properly build up the brand in China
Brand power dominates in China.
A brand will not be successful in China if not successful in home country.
Branding is everything in China. Chinese consumers are more likely to investigate a brand before purchase:
- Many consumers have been cheated with counterfeit products, fake reputable brands and domestic brands that are expensive but of poor quality; accordingly, they become paranoid and cautious towards unbranded products.
- Additionally, Chinese people buy brands not only for the functions they have but also to reflect their social status and improve how other people perceive about them. Chinese consumers are willing to pay more if the brand can bring them prestige and respect among their social circle.
- Brand positioning should be first focus for a new brand in China
It is important to tell your brand story to the Chinese audience after defining your brand identity and position in China.
Misunderstanding of the right use of WeChat
WeChat is the main social media in China for life and for business, and any brand doing business in China must have an official WeChat account.WeChat is at the heart of the digital marketing strategy.
But you should not think of your WeChat account as the channel to attract new customers. WeChat is the place to nurture your subscribers to convert them in customers or retain them. WeChat is critical part of your funnel. But you need to invest other marketing resources into other social media or off line events /shops… to get followers to be converted into WeChat. In particular, you need invest on Weibo or XiaoHongShu or other medias.
For more tips about right use of WeChat, check our linkedin page https://bit.ly/2YrESJ4
Not having the right partner in China
Lots of western companies have failed in China. In many cases it is also due to wrong partners as agents for sales or in a JV structure because there is no common vision, or because the interest of local partner is different. Checking the back-ground of a partner in China is a must, and you need local people to do it.
In terms of digital marketing, you need to have also a digital marketing specialized in China market, professional in terms of Chinese social media and marketing, to understand the local culture and customer needs.
Misunderstanding of the business culture
Giving face is a critical element of the Chinese business culture.
Giving face is all about preserving a good image for your company and team, your partners. It is vital when conducting business in China
Also you need to take into account Chinese calendar and holidays which is different from West (Chinese New year, Mid-automn festival…)
Going directly to e-commerce platform for SME
You must build up your e-reputation first. China social media users are far more active than in other countries and Chinese people are doing everything in their life with their mobile.
Also social media has a larger impact on the buying decisions of Chinese consumers than on those of any other country. If a Chinese consumer sees a product being discussed positively on a social media site, especially by a friend or acquaintance, they are far more likely to actually purchase the product than his or her counterpart in other countries. Peer recommendations have huge influence in Chinese culture, as formal institutions are less likely to be trusted. As your targeted audience is active on social media, you have to be present on social media.
After developing your brand awareness and e-reputation, manage your followers and subscribers community, you can then start selling on e-commerce platforms if you can get the right turnover to get meaningful ROI.
Not securing the IP
Before expanding your business in China, you need to obtain the necessary rights to ensure that you maintain a competitive advantage in the market.
Since China uses a first to file system for patents and trademark protection applications, it is then highly recommended to obtain IP protection for your business in China as soon as possible
Not taken into account China speed 7 times faster than in West
There is about a factor of 5 to 7 between China and western speed. You need to run your business in China at China speed, and have very quick decision process.
In China, there is always something new, new regulations, new competitors….The trend tomorrow is dead next month. You need to review your marketing strategy every year.
Of course, there are some other mistakes to avoid doing to enter successfully China market, and you can contact us to know more for your digital marketing strategy. https://bit/ly33oADAg
We can propose you customized digital marketing services according to your needs.
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