Ofo (yellow) and Mobike (orange) are two of the biggest companies competing in the bike-share market in Shanghai
Generally, customer and consumer loyalty surveys in China reveal one key trend – the Chinese aren’t loyal.
The past two decades have seen an explosion in the choices available to people in China. The country has opened up to the world and become an economic powerhouse, meaning everybody wants a slice of this particular pie.
So whether it’s Scandinavian paper pulp board sold by the ton or fancy South American coffee sold by the cup, in first tier cities especially, the options are manifold.
But has this led to as much bed hopping between brands as the research seems to suggest, and what is being done to keep hold of customers and consumers when they choose a brand?
Well quite a lot, it seems. And as always in China digital tools, particularly the social media app WeChat, is at the forefront.
B2B – isn’t it all about the balance sheet?
The Brandigo\China old guard can tell many a tale of ‘negotiations’ with purchasing managers in Chinese companies. We can bemoan that these folks know the cost of everything and the value of nothing, but getting costs down is the job of procurement departments the world over. They think with their heads, not their hearts.
In the good old days, some old fashioned guanxi would grease the wheels. Taking the manager out for a lavish meal or showering him or her with gifts was a good place to start, and still goes on in some more traditional companies. For multinationals though, especially those big on corporate compliance, these kinds of gestures are a thing of the past.
Customer aftercare is becoming more and more important in China, and using digital tools, it is easier to maintain this relationship. You can send surveys asking for feedback, incentivizing people with a chance to win in a lucky draw. Hosting events for existing customers is another great way to meet them in person and develop a personal relationship. Sending personalized emails or WeChat messages is another option for making that customer feel valued – and keeping your brand top of mind.
B2C – This time it’s personal
Chinese consumers are savvier then ever, and millennials in particular will no longer accept shoddy customer service or companies that shrug their shoulders and say its Hobson’s choice for the customer. Clever brands not only treat their customers well, they turn them into evangelists.
Take bike sharing apps, the latest craze to hit China. Mobike was the first player on the scene, but now there must be a dozen different companies vying for riders in Shanghai. I’m a Mobike man, and they contact me every day to tell me about different offers. Last month, they ran a game where riders could pick up letters everytime they scanned and rode, and if the letters spelled out a certain word, then they won a cash prize – easy to deliver in China thanks to the explosion in popularity of mobile payment.
They’re always giving me a few kuai here and there when I jump on a lucky bike with a red packet, and have run promotions in the past where they have made riding free for days on end.
I tell people about this, I can share the lucky money in the red packets with my friends and colleagues. And best of all, it’s in the palm of my hand, on my mobile phone.
Technology is opening up the options companies have to convert sales into brand advocates. Clever brands are embracing this, leveraging on the mobile phone, the tool most people have on their person throughout their waking hours, to market to them in a direct, personal and useful way, helping them solve their problems or making using the product a fun and engaging experience.