Russian Businesses do a lot of mistakes in China,  we deal with hundreds of Russian Companies every year, and when Russian Companies enter to China, they keep their Russian Reflex … and do not adapt to the Chinese way of Business.

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Top 5 Mistakes of Russian Companies in China


Any Russian brand I had a chance to communicate with, explained to me how their brand is popular in Russia, contains only natural ingredients, had a good impact on health and other magic properties of it. It is hardly possible to deny all this fact due to strong brand awareness in Russia, but they always forget about being even big brand in Russia doesn’t mean Chinese consumers will rush into supermarkets or online stores to grab some unique Russian products as soon as this brand starts sales in China.

As a result of Russian media spreading positive news about Russian products (especially food) are incredibly popular among Chinese consumers leads to giving Russian companies a misleading impression regarding the Russian product’s popularity in China. Online stores and offline supermarkets are overwhelmed with Australian, American and European products, for Chinese consumers, these countries are associated with brand and quality.

If you do not have a huge budget for opening your own stores, you have to find distributors and resellers of your product. If they want to sell in China, most Brands have to find distributors and resellers. This is because the infrastructure for sales is very different. Distributors do not respond well to new brands. They are all searching for a popular brand, that is easy to sell and easy to promote to other smaller resellers. If you meet them, usually they will refuse any collaboration.

Working on your online branding and your e-reputation, this is because distributors will research the brand online. They will use Chinese platforms that are not typical outside the country, so you must have a strong presence and reputation.

Do Chinese consumers like it? They will check if people already bought the products and how they responded. What is the quality like? They will check what users say about it in forums and social networks. They want to see that the brand is famous and established; through search engines such as Baidu or Sohu, they will access how many media sources are speaking about the brand and how many followers the brands have on Weibo & Wechat.


Many brands entering China have great expectations, incorrectly believing that costs will be low, and rewards will be high. But the environment in China has radically changed over the past five to ten years, and brands still holding onto those expectations are likely to be disappointed.

Most of the Russian companies thinking about the Chinese market, don’t even suppose to include some marketing expenses to develop the market. Russian FMCG market is limited with a few big companies take each niche, final consumers just need to choose between a few companies, so it’s much easier to target final consumers. Chinese offline and online represent an enormous number of import brands spending millions yearly to be on the top.




Chinese consumers behaviour is totally different from the Russian one. The biggest problem for Russian companies is keeping the same business model for foreign marketing including promotion channels. Paid ads work effectively in Russia, cost cheap and bring high Return on Investment (ROI).

However, paid ads are not as effective here. Chinese consumers, probably more so than any others in the world, depend heavily on product recommendations from online reviewers. They pay careful attention to what is saying on social networks when they shop. 75% of Chinese Internet users post online feedback on their purchases at least once a month, compared with less than 20% in the U.S. Making social media the “key pillar of all engagement for successful Chinese brands.”

What is the more cost-effective alternative to paid ads?


1. Fast-working Chinese website with optimized for Chinese users content on HK/Singapore hosting

The creation of a professional and convincing website is for a company the first step in establishing its presence on the web. Even more so in a country like China where more than half of the population searches online on the website of the product/service that interests them. SEO ranking in PPC and SEM through Chinese search engines can improve image, visibility and increase conversion rates.



2. PR publication in online media resources related to your industry

Public Relations through Chinese media agencies are the most effective because the Chinese patronize to a great extent their internet tools than any internet community.


3. Positive online reputation on Q&A forums/blog

Online reputation is very important in China. To learn about the brand or product, users will research before purchasing either for a product or for a service. To improve your online reputation, many options available to you as a partner with KOL or promote your business with press releases. You can also promote by improving your reputation through forums.


4. Cooperation with Chinese influencers/bloggers

Public Relations are run by key opinion leaders in the banner display, billboard screens and other mobile devices capable of reaching the brand targeted audience. WeChat, for example, uses a banner display where key opinion leaders appear with the brand logo below them to promote the image product of brands. Banner display using key opinion leaders can be done on billboards’ screen with the brand logo and product being marketed to improve brand sales in China.


5. Social media Marketing in Weibo/Wechat/Douyin etc.

Social media platforms like Weibo, WeChat or Douyin are the most used by the Chinese internet consumers, and these can be used by brands for media buying and campaign management. Brands image and visibility can be improved from these social platforms for a product awareness campaign.

The second reason for switching paid ads to more effective tools as a fast-working Chinese website on Hong Kong hosting, SEO, positive online reputation, PR and KOL (Key Opinion Leaders) is the duration of the effect from the marketing campaign, as soon as you stop paying ads, the traffic will be stopped as well, however, the results from organic SEO and working on positive reputation/PR will last longer.


You can get our report about social Media Marketing in China (contact me on Linkedin)



Accepting to change of business model for China and allocate a budget for the Chinese market make them believe that great results will come immediately. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work in China. Long term optimized marketing campaigns will be the best choice for new brands entering this market.

Before Chinese consumers trust your brand, they need to know who you are and what you do. Social media is a free but efficient platform to introduce your brands’ bio, profile and your company culture to people throughout China. Russian brands need to change a marketing strategy they used to have in Russia entering the Chinese market by changing tools from aggressive short term ads campaign to the long term organic marketing plan with quality results.

Many people will assume that the brand community is only a marketing strategy where one collects as many followers or fans as possible. However, the brand community can be more powerful than this, it has the potential to lead and change the entire business operation and serve as a business strategy.




Most of the companies decided to work with China, underestimate the cost of a marketing campaign. The Chinese market is a massive country, comprised of many individual markets, geographies, and consumer types. Russian companies also believe that costs should be cheaper than in the West. In fact, many times costs are even more expensive than markets such as Europe or the US, but you have a chance to target more audience as China has around 1,3 billion population, most of them have access to the internet.



Searching for professional marketing agencies dedicated to marketing in China, a lot of companies get shocked by the prices, trying to find cheap alternative hiring Russian students can speak Chinese or one Chinese sales manager and expect big results with minimum investments. After a few months or a few years, companies give up and quit the market with no results.


Read also:

  1. The problem of the new brand in China
  2. Food in China: Marketing Strategies for International f&b brands
  3. B2B and lead generation in China



GMA is a specialist in the world of digital in China. We have built up a high level of expertise in a variety of market sectors with many successful projects tailored to this unique market. It is important to deeply understand the digital environment in order to act with the most effective strategy. Each sector presents different challenges and opportunities, unique market sector strategy is developed by our team by request.


We have a wealth of experience with many successful projects under our collective belt, our success is due to our passion for great work and marketing.




Please contact us for more information about how we can help your business. We look forward to discussing your project. 

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