The most successful branding and marketing campaigns in China are the ones that start from the very beginning. For us at Brandigo, this means research. Either from the comfort of our desks or out in the field, talking to target customers, competitors and stakeholders.
Leo Hu, thinking about his next research project
This week we speak to Leo Hu, Branding Associate and Shanghai native, about his approach to B2B research in this fast-changing market. Leo has experience in the medical, food and beverage, nutritional ingredients and chemical industries.
What are the main challenges in B2B research in China?
Our target audience is generally purchasing and procurement department managers that are very rational and systematic in their decision-making processes. A big part of what I do is trying to gain a really detailed understanding of our client’s products and/or services, that way I can think about the problems their customers are trying to solve.
The other thing we really need to consider is who their domestic competitors are. It may be that a well-known multinational company has competitors in China that are unknown to outsiders, and maybe have very little information in the public domain. We have to make sure we ask our clients the right questions so we can perform on their behalf.
When carrying out quantitive research, what should brands be wary of in China?
It is always necessary to be wary of random sampling in China, because it is such a massive market with huge population. This is why we need to be very confident we know who is the target audience of the brands, and then we can base our sample on those people and gain more useful insights. A lot of B2B is very specialist, with maybe only a few thousand people working in that field. It is those people we need to find, not just a random 25-45-year-old marketing manager in a Tier One city, there are tens of millions of them!
When carrying out qualitative research, what should brands be wary of in China?
We should keep in mind the research objectives because we always get a lot of information from qualitative exploration. We encourage respondents to provide as much information as possible regarding some specific industries in the initial stage of the research, because respondents always know more than researchers. But we should be wary of deviating the objective of the research, and stick to an agreed and structured set of questions that give us the information we need.
How is undertaking this research different from a similar approach in the West?
In the West, questionnaires are always sent to the mailbox of consumers or through social media platforms like Facebook. There is a different landscape here in China. WeChat and Weibo are the main tools to engage respondents. Moreover, we also have to provide more incentives for respondents to give constructive answers, so clients should consider red packets or lucky draw prizes in their budgets.