To understand the Chinese market, nothing better than studying it. This study on sexuality in contemporary Chinese society highlights the evolution of morals in the new generation. E-commerce becomes ubiquitous in the process and revolutionizes advertising.
Marketing condoms in China? Between sex education, modernity and social networks, learn to juggle to bring THE innovative message that will reach a youth in full emancipation.
1 – UNDERSTANDING SEXUALITY IN CHINA BEFORE SELLING ANY PRODUCTS
In China, contraception is taken seriously
The problem of contraception is considered with great responsibility in China. First, few Chinese women use contraceptive methods (pill, implant, IUD …). Accused of degrading health and causing cancer, the contraceptive pill has a very bad reputation in China, where counterfeits – dangerous in addition to being ineffective – are not lacking, making its market almost non-existent. Other female contraceptive methods are not well known when they are not accused of infertility and other ailments.
Then, Chinese men find themselves faced with a dilemma much heavier than the Europeans : an unwanted pregnancy in most cases means for them a hasty marriage, with the amount of money that it entails to commit to the future of the couple (wedding ceremony + purchase of an apartment + wife to maintain + baby + school education to be filled). In a China still very conventional and full of what we say, it is through marriage that we save the face of both families.
Although abortion is practiced, many traditional parents still have taboos, not to mention its cost and the maximum time to use it. Emergency contraception, the morning after pill is already much more popular with young people.
Unlike Europe, condoms remain practically the only contraceptive method commonly used in China and their responsibility rests … on men.
Sex education in China still lagging behind
Behind China’s efforts to educate its people about condom use, there is a distressing ignorance of the reality of sexually transmitted diseases and, conversely, some beliefs about pregnancy-causing practices that drive some of the population into less educated to fierce chastity.
Many young Chinese people confuse procreation and illness, for example by believing that a disease can be transmitted only through ejaculation, that an intimate physical contact does not imply any transmission of germs, or that the fact to show no symptoms necessarily means that you are healthy.
Current practice? Use a condom only for the final act, without any awareness of the risks of transmission or the risk of pregnancy despite everything. Other modes of transmission of STD – saliva, stained bath towel, syringe, dirty toilet – are largely unknown. Few have ever been screened in their lifetime …
No surprise then when we see the sad advance of AIDS in China, which affects more and more students. An estimated half a million people living with HIV in China in 2018: The number of unknowingly infected people is estimated to be several thousand, although this estimate is already widely considered to be underestimated by health experts.
The latest statistics from the Chinese government in this area date from 2015, where was noted a rise of 14% of AIDS infections in China, 35% just among the student population.
The Chinese government is making efforts
Faced with the flagrant lack of sex education and precautions taken, the Chinese government is acting strongly to stop the spread of the virus.
The lesson has been taken since the 1990s, when massive contamination of farmers in Henan by the AIDS virus caused a huge uproar following a national blood drive under precarious health conditions, where the needles were reused for others. donors and where the blood collected had not been screened before transfusion. The epidemic had been minimized and eventually contaminated 80% of the population of some rural villages.
Since 2016, Sichuan Petroleum University has launched screening kits for sale in snack vending machines on campus, for a mere 30 yuan. The difference in the real price of the tests, ten times higher, is supported by an HIV prevention association. Large cities like Shanghai have free condom distributors around residences.
“Cherish life”: the children’s book that shocks the adults
Cherish Life, a children’s sexual education book for children and offered to the primary and junior high school curriculum, has recently been talked about and divided the opinion of Chinese parents.
His raw approach to the thing has outraged some parents who call the book pornographic, while others welcome the transparency of the subject. An initiative never seen in China, where the issue has always been carefully avoided by parents until complete ignorance of young adults. The subject is still very taboo in some parts of China.
The manual was designed by the Beijing Normal University and will certainly have to fight to be applied to the program.
Where does the Chinese government’s openness to sex education come from?
Apart from the blatant problem of the fight against STDs, how a society that made sex so taboo and advocated a strict morality comes to accept the liberalization of morals among young people, until the publication of the controversial little book Cherish Life for to educate primary school children?
The compromise is all-out, putting the subject for educational and health concerns first and foremost. In other words, we can talk about sex as long as it is about health and education!
The change in Chinese society’s view of sex comes largely from the cultural influences of the West. International films show scenes of love or intimate and naked – which are always cut or censored in Chinese films, favoring chaste romantic scenes where the heroes are fully dressed.
Chinese society is therefore aware of the openness of their neighbors and aspires to the same freedom. More and more behaviors are becoming tolerated and the younger generations are singing Western customs: Chinese students hold hands in the street, kiss each other in public and begin to assume their sexuality moderately.
This evolution of morals, however, remains rooted in the major cities of the East Coast and South China. The lag between metropolises and rural towns remains so important that it is a whole other societal question.
Chinese city-dwellers free themselves (at last) from social constraints
The presence of foreigners in China and the rise of mixed couples have helped to change the way in China. One could almost speak of a fashion from both sides: if the foreigner seeks the exoticism of Asia, having a foreign spouse in China is synonymous with open-mindedness and modern living conditions, associated with a form of freedom that encompasses sexual emancipation. To have a foreign spouse is to signify to his entourage that one has a higher education, that one travels and that one maintains a high standard of life – including and especially financially! The foreign spouse gives face.
Even though many Chinese people are in a relationship with foreigners, the opposite trend is still in the majority – for a question of mutual cultural adaptation. Chinese women consider that the sexual freedom of Western countries goes hand in hand with the social and economic development of these countries. To meditate!
2 – HOW TO MARKET SEX PRODUCTS IN CHINA?
Let’s get into the thick of it.
If Chinese consumers reason differently from Western consumers, it is obvious that the strategy of selling a foreign brand must be adapted to the Chinese market. In this we give you some tips.
Why Durex is so popular in China
Durex has had tremendous media coverage in China. First of all, being the first Western brand to establish itself on the territory. Then with an excellent exploitation of the media and social networks to create the buzz around her. Finally, being marketed everywhere: there are indeed sexual toys of the brand in each Familymart and discreet packs of two on each display case at Wallmart or Carrefour.
The brand was quite affordable for the Chinese public, compared to other foreign brand contraceptives: while a package of Skin is marketing at 112RMB in the Chinese market, a Durex package costs about 48RMB. The choice is so fast!
So that a Chinese consumer looking for condoms will have the choice between a Chinese brand at a low price, a Japanese brand (Japanese condoms have maintained a good reputation and de facto hold a good market share in China) and … Durex , in the foreground.
Even if the Chinese brands will be favored by patriots with a modest budget, Durex has nevertheless obtained the trust of a majority of consumers, highlighting its reliability and its non-allergenic materials. Counterfeit condoms flood the Chinese market: between tearing of (bad) latex or allergic eruptions following a component, there is no doubt that foreign brands enjoy greater credibility.
Make your condom brand known on Chinese social networks
The Wechat social network is proving to be an incredible tool for brands that want to promote them to Chinese consumers. Wechat is part of the daily lives of users; it brings together the properties of Facebook, Instagram and Linkedln all in one. The border between private and professional life is very thin. Each Chinese has at least one account on the app and consults it regularly during the day.
Wechat allows brands to have an official account to promote their products to their subscribers and create their own Wechat store for online sales. There are many brands to recruit Wechat ambassadors to prospect on newsgroups and market the products: this strategy is very effective and most users respond positively to the solicitations.
Weibo and Douyin are two other social networks where users share videos. Again, they are a good way to market a brand’s products through a funny, off-the-wall ad that users will be happy to share.
Why e-commerce is your best approach?
It is still difficult in China to fully assume one’s sexuality, especially for young people. That’s why online sales work so hard: consumers will largely prefer to have contraceptives delivered anonymously at home, rather than queuing at the supermarket with the bulky product that catches the eye.
In addition, Chinese consumers are now rarely in stores: with their professional obligations, they prefer to save time by placing all the orders of everyday life on their Smartphone, via the most popular e-commerce platforms: Taobao, Tmall, Little Red Book and even Wechat Store. Food shopping, shopping, everything goes.
E-commerce can also reduce distribution costs, a major advantage when you know that the Chinese can not afford a budget too expensive. To achieve more sales, you can not cut: you have to list your products on one (and preferably several!) E-commerce platform.
KOL, weapon of seduction
Competition is not an easy task. How to convince Chinese consumers that your brand is the best of all and that they will not be able to do without it anymore?
When a product touches intimacy and ethics, advertising is a delicate undertaking. You will have understood: in China especially, where promotion modes too daring easily fire powder. It would be a shame if your product was boycotted even before it entered the market!
A good way to get the pill to China can be the use of a KOL. Quèsaco?
KOL = Influencers
A KOL (Key Opinion Leader in English) is an influencer who has made himself known on social networks. Specialized in a field – often sports, fashion, cosmetics …, the KOL are media personalities whose activities are followed by a large audience of fans who give them all confidence. Each publication on their part generates many likes, comments and shares on social networks. They launch fashions and enjoy great credibility. KOLs therefore test new products at the request of brands and highlight their use through videos (if it is a cosmetic product, a KOL will produce a tutorial in which he / she will explain the best way to apply this product).
What my brand can expect from a KOL?
You can hope that a KOL helps you to make the buzz of your product on social networks. We call this viral marketing: thanks to the action of a media personality, your product – or your advertising of this product – is shared on social networks by the users themselves, which presents the enormous advantage of saving you too much marketing cost in paid commercials.
Thanks to viral marketing, you make yourself known to your potential customers and your sales will increase considerably!
Finally, brands can organize dedicated events; Durex is very popular for its nightclub theme nights, with free distribution. If you can solicit a KOL to liven up your evening, you’ve won everything in terms of marketing.
Of course, keep in mind that the image of your muse must convey the same values as your business. The popularity of a KOL is not enough to make a good brand ambassador! If you’re not attracted to KOL, you can think of Wechat ambassadors, who are paid commission for each reported prospect. Their impact is significant and their cost significantly lower.
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