With a population size nearing 1.4 billion you can be sure that every Marketing Manager with their sights set on China has done the math and come to the same mouthwatering conclusion – even if they were to successfully target .01% of the population their brand would still reap massive rewards.
Cue the mass TV advertisements and “engaging” WeChat campaigns, because hey, there are so many fish in the pond if you cast your net, you’re bound to catch enough. If this is your China marketing strategy, you my friend, will be having chips with no fish tonight.
Personalization is paramount to successful marketing in China. In today’s market you better have a bait with that fish’s name written on it in sparkles & gold with a picture of it’s favorite fashion blogger plastered all over.
Why has personalization become so important in a China Marketing strategy?
Who rule the world? Apps. And most noticeably in China – WeChat. WeChat started out as a messaging app and has morphed into what has been called the ‘Swiss army knife of apps.’ Users organize and carry out a significant amounts of their daily lives all within this one app. With personalized messaging still at the core, the add-on functionalities of WeChat still draw from your personal data, and can agree to let businesses access name, location, spending habits and much, much more. Users are allowing their data to be used, and in return expect a certain level of personalized services and interactions.
Brands have the data, and the platform to connect with users on a one-to-one level, take advantage of this!
As China continues to develop, it’s cities within become more like small countries themselves. Just take tier 1 cities such as Shanghai or Beijing, each have GDP larger than some individual countries. Tier 2, 3 and 4 cities are also developing rapidly, and each has a different set of consumer behavior and preferences.
This is where personalization goes beyond just recognizing a name & purchase history, but recognizing that different regions in China have different dialects, different eating habits, different clothing preferences, the list goes on. What works in one city of 16 million, may not have any relevance to a city of 5 million just 50km away.
Top this off with millennials who, for the most part, have grown up as only children, garnering them unrivalled attention from parents and grandparents. They’ve been primed to expect brands to treat them with the same level of personal attention.
How can you cut through the noise?
Do invest the time and money to know your target audience
Getting the research right in China is critical. Know your target audience and buyers journey in order to craft a personalized message to your consumer. Only by knowing the problems your target audience has and where they’re going to solve these problems can you effectively connect with potential consumers and offer a solution even before they look to your competitors.
Do personalize wherever possible
WeChat is a great platform for personalization; after all it is a messaging app. Although it’s own segmentation feature is not excellent, use it or find a third party platform to help you.
Do use KOLs to connect with fans
KOLs on stage at CHina CHat Conference, Shanghai
KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) are widely used in China and are becoming more trusted than brands, as many fans view them as having built up personal relationships with their followers. However, proceed with caution! Working with the right KOL is key, research their fan base, previous brand engagements, messaging strategy and which channels used. The wrong KOL can leave you stripped of your marketing budget and even further disconnected from your target audience.
Don’t underestimate local competition
Foreign brands need to be especially wary of local competition as these brand inevitably hold the upper hand in knowing just how to personalize their messaging to your target audience. Have a local team, listen to the knowledge and resources they present, and be willing to take a chance.