How to capitalize on the Chinese love for Australian Brands & grow your business?
As a marketer I am continually approached by Australian companies and brands looking to grow in China. In all honesty.. I am constantly impressed by the ingenuinity, directness and savy nature of the Australian business person who see the rise of China’s 350 million middle class consumers as a huge opportunity to grow their brand in this rapidly developing nation to a new consumer base.
The success of Australian brands in China is set amidst the backdrop of thriving two-way trade between the two nations. China’s retail market is second only to the US following a whopping 14% compounded annual growth over the past decade. China is Australia’s largest trading partner whilst Australia is China’s seventh largest with two-way trade valued at over $A155 billion in 2015
Australia for the Chinese consumer equates to quality. Australia, as a stand out international marketplace with strong trade links and affiliations with Mainland China, makes it a reputable nation when it comes to offer products and services from down under.
Australia’s favourable geographical location, close-proximity to China and high profile business expansion on Chinese soil is setting the stage for a lucrative era of cross border commerce.
Here I want to explore the key reasons why the Chinese are falling for Australian brands and how to seize this opportunity.
Increasing levels of wealth lead changing expectations
China’s GDP is still growing by 7% year on year, although this represents a relative slow-down in economic growth these figures are still to be envied by countries around the world. Particularly when you consider that China’s market is still developing, it has by no stretch of the imagination reached its maturity.
As a result of this continued growth there are now approximately 350 million ‘middle class’ Chinese consumers (in relative terms) and a staggering 100 million high-end consumers. The potential for Australian brands to tap into this expanding base of avid consumers is huge.
With rising disposable incomes come changing standards & expectations when it comes to product quality..
Chinese consumers love ‘International Products’
‘international’ has become a byword for quality in a market place famously associated with counterfeit goods. Australian brands therefore represent the antithesis of poorer quality Chinese goods. They stand for authenticity, quality and reflect status for the Chinese buyer. Wealthier consumers now seek quality, international imported brands which they develop a fierce loyalty for when branded & marketed in the right way.
Australian brands give ‘Face’ for Chinese buyers.
The Chinese concept of ‘Face’ boils down to status and how one is perceived by their social group. The key indicators of face in a modern society of avid consumers are the brands bought and flaunted. Australia’s status is considered very highly with positive knock on effects for brands, companies and services.
The most successful Australian brands
Health products dominate the league table of Australian brands selling online to China, according to a study of Tmall Global, Alibaba’s cross-border e-commerce platform.
The top six Australian brands over 2016 were Chemist Warehouse, Swisse, Blackmores, NaturesWay, the dairy farmer cooperative Devondale and the supermarket Woolworths.
Dairy, beef, vitamins & infant formula all remain very popular at the top of the list.
Other exciting digital brands are also coming through with players such as ‘Hop The Wall’ connecting Australian businesses with Chinese tourists via WeChat. Platforms such as this will certainly help facilitate the growth of small & medium Australian business as well as major brands.
The Problems for Australian Brands
The problem is that despite all these favourable conditions an Australian brand still needs to have a presence and develop a positive reputation to succeed. Chinese need to find your brand, know you and see positive commentary about you. Trust is everything.
Consumers are famously wary of adopting unknown brands because in a society obsessed with status, it is their reputation on the line. It’s a catch 22 for new brands entering the market..
The solutions are online
In China the online solution is the most effective. There are approaching 900 million Chinese online with 400 million making internet purchases. China has thrown itself into the digital age with wild abandonment and is developing arguably the most developed digital infrastructure for e-commerce, branding, lead generation and sales on the planet.
To seize the opportunities Australian brands must go online and target consumers on the most efficient platforms.
Cross border e-commerce explodes
Alibaba, as China’s largest e-retail giant, have developed the most infrastructure for online sales, storage, distribution and delivery in the world. Their flagship platform Tmall hosts official stores to guarantee the authenticity of products. ‘
Little Red Book’ are another huge player as ‘social commerce’ takes off in China with users regularly sharing images of their purchases on the network allowing ozzie brands to tap into their active, social communities.
Other sales channels to consider include the ‘Daigou’, these are personal sellers who advertise products to their social network. They are often established and reputable figures who can lift the reputation of brands.
How do you increase the visibility and reputation of your brand to grow sales?
WeChat as a Launchpad
WeChat is the most important platform in terms of branding. Here you need to build a loyal base of followers, share quality content and develop an official account which functions as a ‘mini site’ for presenting a brand.
WeChat with it’s 860 million active users is essential for building reputation and tapping into highly active communities in groups. You can even offer customer services via their instant messaging service.
A Quality Chinese Site
It is best to host your site on a Chinese server with a .cn domain. Your brand needs to be adapted for the Chinese market. A quality site should also be optimized for Baidu searches and formatted for WeChat. A site will also typically drive traffic to a WeChat page for cross promotional purposes.
Chinese sites need to be formatted in a specific way and the back-end optimised in Mandarin Chinese, for example meta descriptions, titles & tags etc.
Baidu SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Baidu SEO is very important for a brand’s long term growth. 75% of all online research in China is conducted via this search engine. You need to be visible based on Mandarin Character keyword searches with articles, content and the official site all being optimized.
This strategy can also be combined with PPC ads (Pay Per Click) which although more costly is important when it comes to market entry.
Chinese Forums – Reaching out to your target audience!
The most effective strategy is always to focus on targeted communities on active platforms. Rather than bringing the consumers to you, go to them. Chinese forums such as Baidu Tieba, Tianya, Douban & Zhihu remain hugely popular. The benefit here is you can targeted very specific threads based on topics and relevant keywords.
The Chinese attitude online is more collectivist, users are strongly influenced by the views & opinions of others. It is therefore vital to build your reputation over time by creating topics, threads and positive comments whilst limiting the damage of any negative ‘buzz’.
Quality PR & Content
The old adage is truer than ever in China, content is king. Consumers are hungry for new, quality content and have a strong culture of sharing this via social media. Content needs to be adapted and tailored for the Chinese market whilst retaining the brand’s values and identity.
PR allows the brand to be seen in the news e-media. This cements reputation and reinforces the prevalence of any company. Quality PR produces backlinks and enables you to spread your message on many e-news platforms specific to your industry. Portals for sharing Mandarin language content also need to be utilised.
News App Paid Articles
News App Ads are a great tool for reaching your target audience, they can be placed in news feeds based on relevant keyword searches. The plus here is that banner advertising can be within a news article or an advert created as news content itself. This lends itself to the discerning consumer and increases the legitimacy of the content you are posting.
We are a purely digital, marketing & lead generation agency based at the heart of China’s economic miracle in Shanghai. We look to form long term partnerships with serious projects who have the ambition to make their mark in the aptly named ‘mysterious orient’ that is Mainland China.
For more information don’t hesitate to drop us a message.