In China, where chocolate is not yet a treat for children as it is in the West, marketing its chocolate brand and making it attractive to consumers is an art. Milk chocolate is indeed much too sweet to the taste of the Chinese, and the product does not find its place in the meals ritual.
Fortunately, we give you all the tips to implement your brand in China and better understand the expectations of the Chinese.
Understand the expectations of Chinese consumers
Renown brand Kinder has just launched its latest campaign in China: ‘We want YOU: who will be the next Kinder child ?’ The famous chocolate package indeed adapts its star-child to each country so that its consumers identify with it, which has not failed to be the case in China by so far put on scene two Chinese children.
Far from being in a hedonistic logic, China is currently experiencing a ‘healthy’ trend where its population is strongly encouraged to eat healthily and to do more sports. In addition, it is unfortunately still very common for young people to be told by their parents that they are too fat, their face being puffy or their skin having spots and that they should, therefore, start a diet.
Faced with – on the one hand – this social trend, and – on the other hand – this societal pressure, chocolate comes as a hair on the soup. Renowned rightly for attacking the liver, giving acne spots and even making fat, difficult for the Chinese population to see the slightest benefit to its consumption!
What to do then, to market a product that is neither the health friend nor the cosmetic friend?
1- Why is sweet chocolate less popular in China?
Chinese cuisine is a strong spice cuisine where the food will be savored for its texture rather than for its taste: gelatinous, sticky, slippery, crispy, crunchy, melting, unctuous …
Chocolate is, in fact, a complete appropriation of Western culture, like the consumption of cow’s milk, coffee or red wine. The appreciation of these foods is not innate, it requires an adaptation of the consumer’s palate to these new flavors. It is a process that takes time.
In addition, Chinese people traditionally consume food for their health benefits. The consumption of chocolate for the sole pleasure of taste has no meaning, especially since the sweet is not one of the most popular flavors in China. The chocolate will be consumed if it is recognized to help the proper functioning of the human metabolism.
2- Dark chocolate, king of sweet snacks
Yes, if milk chocolate and white chocolate have long been known for their bad health effects when consumed too often, dark chocolate 70% is recognized by all healthier to be rich in antioxidants and flavonoids, which would boost sports performance but also improve memory and general health, in addition to being excellent for the mood.
Its bitter taste adapts much more easily to the taste of the Chinese, where bitter is one of the five main flavors of traditional cuisine: bitter, sweet, salty, acidic and pungent.
3- Associate dark chocolate and sports practice in your ad!
No need to lie when a food has recognized virtues: your advertising credo is already found, and it is the purest truth.
Flavonoids in dark chocolate reduce the risk of stroke and help keep the arteries flexible. It is therefore good for the heart and helps – if you do not abuse it – to keep the line because its high cocoa content makes it a lean food. It dilates the blood vessels and thus facilitates blood circulation, making it an asset for improving sports performance. As if that was not enough, it reduces hypertension and boosts concentration!
Dark chocolate really has virtues for sports. Democratizing its positive effects on health could change the eyes of Chinese athletes and launch a long-term consumption. Thus, dark chocolate becomes the ally of sports performances!
The best way to market it is in the form of cereal bars with dried fruit or mini bar of chocolate with a high cocoa content, intended for sports snacks.
E-commerce and m-commerce, key for sales
Having an online presence in China is necessary, through mobile commerce and online sales. The technological means have indeed been adopted much more rapidly than in the Western countries. Users spend more and more time on their mobiles and use a multitude of daily-use apps to make their lives easier, whether ordering their meals, shopping, or noting their sightseeing holidays on travelers’ special tips websites.
In this context, the way in which brands market themselves has changed significantly to better reflect the new consumer behavior. Brands are turning to digital communication and are using QR codes, adapting the design of their website to mobile display and accepting mobile payment methods. In general, they simplify the buying process and do everything to save the buyer time.
1 – Online sales platforms
Developing online sales on your website is an essential step in your installation in China. It’s a safe bet that the majority of your sales will be made in the future from your e-commerce platform if you optimize your digital communication according to our advice.
There are of course already online platforms where all the international companies that want to count in China have already put their products up for sale: these giants are Tmall and Taobao. These two online platforms are references for Chinese consumers but also for expatriates in China, and enjoy great public confidence. They are extremely efficient with respectful delivery times and a very responsible after-sales service.
To develop your e-commerce, start by referencing your products on Taobao or Tmall. Consumers will be reassured to see your products appear among all others in the market. In a way, it even legitimizes the provenance of your products!
2 – Care about your website design
To sell in China, it is better … to have a website translated into Chinese! English is not enough. Even if more and more Chinese are English-speaking, if you want to please the market you must show your full integration and understanding of this market.
Chinese consumers are used to food scandals of any kind and will be very suspicious about the ingredients in your product. Whenever possible, be transparent about the ingredients in your chocolate and the manufacturing process.
Storytelling is a marketing strategy that works particularly well. Post quality pictures of your factory and employees where chocolates are produced, and why not its different stages of preparation. Chinese are very interested in any form of learning and the method of manufacturing a product they are about to eat can only interest them!
3- Make yourself known on Chinese social networks
You now have a website that holds the road and your products are already on sale on an e-commerce platform. Your background is assured, you must now think of your communication to reach your target clientele.
Wechat will be an indispensable tool for your brand, and this tool will take two forms. The first will be the ambassadors, the second your official account.
Young brands use brand ambassadors, which as their name suggests will advertise your products for a fee, posting promotions & pictures of your products on their profile.
Your official Wechat account will allow fans to subscribe to stay abreast of the latest promotions and new products of your brand. It is a very useful marketing tool which has the advantage of not spamming the user. As its general presentation is formatted by Wechat, the user is not lost among your topics as it might do on a website poorly arranged.
Thanks to the Wechat platform, your products are referenced on Taobao and allow the user to find you easily. Since 800 million Chinese use Wechat, each of them being a citizen of China having a purchasing power and is therefore likely to take an interest in your brand, it is then logically better to have your official account!
4- SEO on Baidu
Baidu is the Chinese Google, on which you must optimize your SEO. Search engines, known as SEO for Search Engine Optimization, will allow you through the right keywords to distinguish you from competing brands. Competition in China is fierce: the purchasing power of a population of more than 1.4 billion people pushes all international brands to rush and try to conquer the territory commercially.
3- Choose a KOL to support your campaign
We have devoted many articles to this phenomenon, the Key Opinion Leader is celebrities having a strong influence on the Chinese consumption’s behavior. Consumers solicit the recommendations of those around them before buying, but also refer to their idols. Brands now often use public idols to positively influence buyers.
This communication strategy is among the most effective of the moment in China. To support your communication campaign, you could, therefore, call on a champion or an athlete who has recently distinguished himself in competition. The goal is to create an optimal association of ideas in the minds of your consumers: dark chocolate + sport = success. Choose one sports muse whose reputation will give a strong visibility to your brand!
The agri-food market in China has a strong potential to develop together with the sports market, in a logic of ‘healthy lifestyle’, a healthy way of life. To fully understand the environment in which you want to launch your brand, many companies like yours choose to let our Gentlemen Marketing Agency help them. We conduct field surveys and market analyzes that enable us to understand and anticipate the expectations of Chinese consumers.
We chose to help foreign companies develop their business in China by optimizing their digital communication and providing them with the best advice on the Chinese market. Will you be the next company to solicit our best strategies?
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