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Why is enter Chinese market so important?

The challenge of China market entry has become an increasingly important one of Western companies of all shapes and sizes. Despite a difficult economic climate in Europe and the United States, China’s economy has continued to grow by double-digit rates over the last couple of years. With the country poised to overtake the US as the second-largest global economy by 2020 and destined to remain an engine of global growth for the next decade, understanding how to enter the large and complex market has become critical to most companies in the B2B sphere.

What’s of most interest to Australian businesses is the huge growth of the middle class in China, a group of people with money to spend, an appetite for consumption, and a desire to travel. In 2016, Australia welcomed one million Chinese holidaymakers, and that number is expected to surpass three million annual visitors within the next decade.

Looking at the bigger picture, China is by far Australia’s biggest trading partner. Since the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement was signed in 2015, annual bilateral trade has reached $183 billion. To put this in perspective, it’s more than the next two biggest trade agreements combined (Japan [$71 billion] + USA [$68 billion]). For businesses looking to expand, it’s the obvious market.

Attracting Chinese customers takes preparation and a shift in focus. The idea of ‘west is best’ isn’t going to fly in this market. You can’t just do what you do in Australia and hope that it crosses international borders. Digital marketing is huge in China but in a completely different way to Australia. Marketing on the likes of Facebook and Instagram, and even SEO with a focus on Google, won’t help because these sites aren’t accessible in China. Instead, you need to work with the sites and apps that are popular there – the likes of Sogou, WeChat, and Weibo.

Brand exposure is a key factor in attracting Chinese business. The average Chinese person is incredibly brand savvy and they’re much more likely to buy from a name they recognize.

When asked about Australian companies that are marketing well in China that we can take inspiration from, Sawczak shared several examples, Some of the larger organizations are fantastic at on the ground marketing, for instance, Tennis Australia has had a grassroots and marketing presence in China for a long time. The same as VRC, the Victoria Racing Commission, they’re promoting their spring carnival. They get an increase in mainland Chinese tourists, increasing all the time.

Although your brand’s key messages might stretch globally, the digital platforms for delivery do not. If you’re serious about reaching the Chinese consumer, then forget Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — and think WeChat and Weibo. If your business doesn’t have a presence on WeChat or Weibo, you immediately forgo over 500,000 potential local Chinese shoppers, and several million more that may be planning on visiting Australia.

Chinese buyers have different values than your typical customer, this means websites have to be optimized. Your website is often the main channel in which people view your business without physically being there. You should also have Chinese third-party payment methods implemented. Simon McGrath, the chief operating officer of AccorHotels says this: “The luxury Chinese traveler is ready to spend, however, Australian businesses often miss opportunities to increase revenue as they are unable to cater to Chinese payment methods such as Alipay and UnionPay,”.

It’s difficult to market to people who don’t speak the same language and have a completely different set of wants and needs than your normal customer. Having quality Chinese translations to reach non-English speakers is extremely important. Take a lesson from Pepsi, who tried to enter the Chinese market with a slogan about their beverage bringing people “back to life”. It was mistakenly translated to “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave”. While this may seem funny to Australians, the Chinese put a lot of importance on their ancestors and did not find it amusing.

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