If you haven’t heard of WeChat’s newest time-killer – “mini games,” you’re in for a real treat. Keeping in line with their mission to become the app of all apps, WeChat rolled out mini games in December of 2017. This new feature allows users to access games from within WeChat, eliminating the need to ever leave WeChat and download other apps. From the 17 games initially released at the very end of the year, the game 跳一跳, or “jump jump”, has gained the most attention. What can B2B marketers learn from the success of this new feature (besides the fact that addiction to this nonsense game is inevitable)?
Image credit: TechNode
China is different: what works abroad will probably not work in China, and visa versa
We’ve been hammering this nail for a long time, but only from one direction. Usually it is the large international brand that enters China and tries to replicate a strategy that works well in the West and flops here in China. This month we got a taste of what can happen when the roles are reversed. Soon after 跳一跳was released it was pointed out that the game looked incredibly similar to a failed French game, Bottle Flip. Whether or not the game was copied, it highlights the importance of recognizing that China is a completely different market, with a vastly different digital ecosystem.
International brands looking to craft an effective marketing strategy for China often fall into one of two traps
- Copy & paste
- Play it safe
The copy & paste strategy is especially dangerous. Taking your US award-winning marketing strategy and applying it in China will get you nothing less than a rude awakening. Your social media strategy alone will be completely blocked without access to Facebook, Twitter, Google and more. Many cultural references that work well across both American and European markets will not be recognized in China. Localization is key here.
Playing it safe – For many years the global dialogue surrounding marketing campaigns in China focused on China’s lack of creativity, however the tides are beginning to turn and marketers are realizing that this characterization is much more complicated. As a new consumer generation becomes more powerful and as innovations in tech are revolutionizing the digital ecosystem, brands should begin pushing the boundaries, instead of playing it safe.
The same way we caution against using the same strategy as they would in the West, it is also important to remember that your marketing strategy doesn’t have to be boring. Encourage your local team to bring their experience and knowledge to the table and listen.
Keep it simple
跳一跳 isn’t some work of art, mind-blowing, 3D experience, it is incredibly simple. With all the technology available today it is tempting for brands to want the whole 9 yards when it comes to video production, WeChat H5s etc. but do you really need it?
Take a look at KOLs (China influencers) for example – many KOLs reach their fan base by doing regular live-stream video segments. These videos are produced with a mobile phone with little to no professional lighting or effects. Consumers are used to seeing low-quality, minimal production content – as long as it is relevant to them.
The more effects and pizazz you add to your content the more you risk getting off brand, especially for B2B. Don’t be distracted by all the options out there. Know your target audience, craft quality content and stay true to your brand.
Play the game
“You have to join the game. If you don’t, it shows that you don’t know China.”
- Jasmine Ma, Head of Marketing of Finnair
GIF generated by Dongci
There is a digital revolution happening in China that is unlike any other market. Brands who enter and expect to compete with domestic brands have to show that they know China, and they are willing to play the game. This should be applied to everything – your brand message, your marketing collaterals, your WeChat, your website etc. As an international brand, if you do not adapt to China, China will not adapt to you. This is why many Western brands fail in China.
Take 11/11 for example; while the concept of 11/11 started, and the bulk of it continues to be, on Alibaba’s platform Tmall many other brands have begun to use this day as an opportunity to generate sales and brand awareness. International brands such as Gap took 11/11 offline and filled their window space with 11/11 signs this year, Japanese and Thai businesses set up their own cross-border ecommerce sites, all hoping to ride the frenzied spending wave of Singles Day.
B2B brands need to be especially creative when it comes to adapting to Chinese marketing. As a B2B brand do not be afraid to incorporate ecommerce into your WeChat strategy. Sanyi, a heavy machinery manufacturing company gives an ecommerce feel to their WeChat interface, even letting you select a product and book an appointment with a consultant for 1 yuan. They were even offering 11/11 deals.
If you're now itching to try this game for yourself you can go to your WeChat Discover tab> Mini Programs>and type 跳一跳 into the search bar. Wave goodbye to your to-do list.