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Top tips to target Chinese consumers

The enormous business opportunity China presents is a pull for any Australian business looking to expand. Given its geographical proximity to Australia, the estimated 780 million internet users and forecasted growth spend of A$8.6 trillion by 2020, China is an obvious market for Australian businesses to tap into. However, the online ecosystem is completely different to that of Australia, presenting its own set of challenges. In order to make the most of the opportunity and tap into Chinese online demand, here are three top tips to target Chinese consumers:

1. Localise your strategy
Marketing tactics geared for the Western world will not have the same level of success in China. Simply replicating what works in Western markets is a recipe for failure. Smart marketers will change the strategy they use for social, search engines, video sites and forms of payment. Mainstream social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube are banned in China, while the ‘Great Firewall’ blocks the search engine advertising that dominates Western markets. A locally hosted website will help skirt this issue and go a long way to allowing consumers to engage with your product.

An in depth understanding of the Chinese ecosystem and a localised profit model will allow you to make the most of digital marketing into the region. Visit the market, talk to your customers and provide cultural training and awareness to your staff so your profit model is relevant to your Chinese strategy and operations.

2. Know your consumers
The new generation of Chinese Millennial consumers are very different from their parents. They’re more independent, adventurous and seek quality from brands and experiences. Chinese consumers value trust above all else, so online reputation, good customer service and positive online reviews will go a long way. It’s important to get to know your consumers and invest in building trust to understand more about the local market. The dialects, affluence levels, behavior and lifestyles are different all over the country so work out where your product fits and go after that local market.

3. Take advantage of mobile
With more and more people accessing the internet on their mobiles, digital ad spend is on the rise. It’s increased by 27 per cent this year, reaching over $50 billion and accounts for nearly 60 per cent of paid media spending. But that’s not all. eMarketer has forecast that by 2021, almost 60 per cent of total media ad expenditures and close to 82 per cent of digital ad spending in China will be dedicated to mobile .

These are huge stats, and are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mobile penetration. Be sure to optimise your website for mobile or utilise a mobile-first campaign through video, native adverts or in-app advertising as this can be a more cost effective way of reaching your target consumer. The growth of mobile has allowed for more personalised individual targeting or measuring responses to mobile campaigns which can help make the most of your marketing spend.

Establishing an online presence in China and appealing to Chinese customers requires a targeted marketing approach and a realistic investment in local expertise and infrastructure. In a saturated market, these three simple steps will ensure your campaigns have cut through and reach your intended audience to make the most of the opportunities the region presents.

The author shares his top tips to target Chinese consumers ahead of the Access China Summit on June 21, produced in partnership with Ashton Media.

Nicholas Chu

Nicolas Chu is the CEO and Founder of Sinorbis.