In business, as akin Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, organisms which can adapt to their environment have more chances to survive than those who don’t… this is what he calls ‘natural selection’. In our modern economy, even if companies evolve in a globalized world they have to adapt to local environments. Just as with Darwin’s theory, there are as many kinds of companies as there are animal species.
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Businesses should operate in environments which are suitable to their needs.
Brands need to be flexible in China , adapting and tailoring business practices around the world is key.
Brands that create the same content for all countries all around the world will not be suitable for the Chinese Market . Inditex, a streetwear fashion brand have excelled in China. The strategy is to have a stable, strong and globalized brand. Therefore they maintain a consistent brand image and deliver a consistent set of values on all their sites. Their design is neat, modern and they offer high quality street wear. However, they follow the different rules in each country and adapt themselves to local behavior.
In China, with the popularity of e-commerce and adapting their strategy, they didn’t develop their own website but instead launched a store on Tmall with the brand representing their values. The CEO of ‘Inditex’, Pablo Isla, embraced Chinese differences and then adapted their distribution strategy (still supported by the same globalized brand).
‘Zara’ adapts its communication strategy based on the country they are. In Spain, Zara communicates through social media such as Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and has an email marketing program. They maintain a relationship with their customers through personalized newsletters and drive traffic to their website.
Email marketing is not a priority for Zara in China. They have adapted their approach by focusing on social media such as Sina Weibo and Wechat to create a one on one relationship. They activated their official WeChat account including an e-shop to drive sales.
Giants face problems in China
Whales are routine animals and environmental changes impact on them a lot.
Google and amazon are similar to whales in China.
In 2010, Google withdrew from China’s search market due to the disagreement on censorship between them and the Chinese government. It was also due to the battle with Baidu. Baidu offers several superior search features such as bulletin boards, mobile search in multimedia, advanced local information, Baidu Cloud, Baidu knows and Baidu MP3 search. Baidu as a domestic firm better understood and adapted to the Chinese market.
You have to be a leader or die soon
Rabbits arrive to places (accidentally or not) and they try to dominate and colonize that environment. They are aggressive in their survival mode. Starbucks is like a rabbit. When they arrived in China, they tried to not leave any room for their competition. They tried to get as much as possible in terms of online and offline visibility, thus creating an entry barrier for other smaller coffee chains.
In china, people mostly use mobile devices to access the Internet 24/7 and it explains why companies prefer to build their own APP. WeChat is a very popular APP in China and Starbucks adopted that APP very quickly. On Wechat, they launched campaigns and really established 1 to 1 communication with their customers and built their brand image with it. For example, they asked their customers to send an emoticon representing how they felt and responded to them by sending a “refreshing” song that matched the emoticon’s mood. In a 4 week campaign, they attracted 270,000 new WeChat followers.
Starbucks tailors each communication to their local market thus creating a closer relationship with their customers.
Leading Brands have to continue to innovate
Because large brands dominate their market they think they don’t need to change but they do need to change and adapt. Coca-Cola is one such example of a brand whom continually innovate.
In 2013, Coca-Cola reused their existing campaign “share a coke” to China. In 2011, this campaign in Australia drove a 870% increase in traffic (on the facebook page) and a 4% increase in sales. The concept of this campaign was to personalize the Coke bottles by labelling them with different peoples names through a Facebook App. Instead of having names as Paul or Elizabeth, the names on the bottle in China featured buzz words popular amongst youths such as “fans” or “your sweetheart”.
To get social awareness, Coke organized a contest and picked 99 participants on their Weibo fan page (they had to repost the featured names to be eligible) and send them a COKE bottle with their name of their choice. They also featured names in Chinese characters.
BUSINESS TIPS FOR CHINESE MARKET
- E-Commerce : Buyers don’t go to your website, they prefer to go on e-commerce platforms such as Jing Dong and TMall where many brands are available in the same place. According to Alibaba, 54% of all online shoppers use the B2C platform TMall. This platform is very effective and speeds up sales.
- Chinese consumers go on the Internet through their mobile most of the time. According to China Internet Network Information Center’s (CNNIC) latest report, there are 649 Million internet users in China and 85% of them access througn their mobile phone (+ 11% year over year).
- Due to language complexity, interpretation challenges and Chinese Cultural sensitivity, your marketing needs to be adapted.
- Forget Facebook and Twitter, instead think about Sina Weibo and WeChat. Wechat is very popular and is a multimedia communication platform with both text and voice messaging. With WeChat, companies are able to create campaigns and to establish 1 to 1 communication with clients.
- Human to human communication is mandatory in China. Today, almost every Chinese social media site has created a mobile APP to give their users instant and real-time access from their mobile devices.