Introducing the Chinese market: background and key considerations /Jamila Dahoum



Picture: China takes centre stage at BRICS 2017 conference, Xiamen, China, 4 September 20171

Background
China is, arguably, the largest economy in the world with many sources claiming that China has, in fact, overtaken the United States to claim this title. Whether or not you agree with China being number 1 or number 2, you cannot question China’s global importance, impressive growth, and staggering trade volume. China's rapid development has resulted in China becoming an appealing destination for many businesses.

Evidently, China is a very large and important player in the international market. Thus, in order to take your business to the next stage and expand internationally, getting access to the Chinese market is clearly an important consideration and would most certainly prove to be rewarding. The sheer size of the market and vast population size allows firms to gain access to a greater market and a large pool of consumers.

What makes China stand out?
Not only is China one of the largest economies in the world, but it has connections with countries all over the world. However, the interesting feature here, and the reason that China is so different to any other country, is the fact it is so closed off. This makes China a very difficult market to tap into and our future blogs will provide useful tips and key considerations in doing so, particularly in terms of the differences between Chinese and Western social media and marketing platforms. Being able to tap into the large Chinese population, the growing middle class and their rising western tastes is most definitely an appealing proposition. However, to get your brand out there you need to go beyond the great firewall and the closed nature of China!

Considerations
In light of all this positivity on expanding and marketing your brand in China, a crucial question you need to ask is “Will my brand have any influence on Chinese consumers?”. To ensure that it does, marketing must be effective and needs to target the correct market in the correct way.

A perfect example for the complex difference of the Western and Chinese market is the extent to which social media platforms differ. WeChat, a multi-feature application, is used widely in China, with approximately 963m active users2 who spend 40 minutes (on average) on the app per day3. Using WeChat is a great tool to access the Chinese market and help grow your business. This is clearly very different to the Western world and is one of the many modifications that you will need to make to be successful here. As a result, expanding into China can be a difficult, but rewarding task and using WeChat to market your company is one of the many ways to access millions of Chinese consumers.

Picture: WeChat interface and QR code4

Another example is WeChat pay. WeChat pay is a very popular payment feature on the WeChat application. The feature has over 200m users5 and is a brilliant and convenient way to make payments without using paper money and coins. China is rapidly moving away from physical cash, and this sort of innovation is an important consideration for any business that desires to expand into China. This is one of the many ways you need to alter your marketing strategy to appeal to Chinese consumers. We will discuss this, and other, payment features in future blogs soon, so stay tuned!

Picture: The power of QR codes in China: Alipay (left) and WeChat (right)7

Not only is it critical to market yourself on the correct Chinese platforms, it is also essential to ensure systems are compatible with Chinese phones and available in the Chinese language. China has become the “undisputed leader in mobile transactions”6 so don’t miss out on this trend as it is a great way to leave a lasting imprint in the Chinese market!

Clearly, the social media and marketing landscape is very different in China compared with the West. However, if you are looking to grow your company, then expanding into the Chinese market is an important move and doing so in the correct manner is critical. Smoothing out the apparent disparities is something we constantly work on to help you start your business. In future blogs we will continue to provide valuable content to make sure you get an insight into the diverse Chinese market. Stay tuned!

References:

1 - http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/8th-brics-summit-goa-declaration-here-is-the-full-text-adopted-by-the-member-nations
2 – Q2 2017 - https://www.statista.com/statistics/255778/number-of-active-wechat-messenger-accounts
3 – Apr 15 - http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/wechat-statistics
4 – Peterson, 2015, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/wechat-better-than-any-social-mobile-app-comes-out-silicon-peterson and Werner, 2017, https://www.cultofmac.com/430119/wechat-is-more-than-a-messaging-app-it-might-be-a-mobile-os
5 – Jan 16 - http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/wechat-statistics
6 - https://www.applause.com/blog/mobile-payments-global-adoption
7 – Xiao, 2017, https://www.techinasia.com/fake-qr-code-scams-china and Benji, 2017, https://www.marketingtochina.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-qr-codes-in-china

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