If you want to promote your products and services to Chinese consumers, you’ll need to spend time getting to grips with the local culture, consumer behaviour, and the platforms users interact with. From WeChat and Douyin to Bilibili and KOLs, there’s a lot that you need to take in, and when you’re just getting started, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The good news, however, is that though on the outside it looks like Chinese marketing is entirely different to that in the UK, there are many differences. We’ve put together some common Chinese marketing terms that you might not be familiar with to give you a head start…
Though a great deal of ecommerce activity takes place on marketplaces like Taobao and social platforms like WeChat, brands still favour “private traffic” as they scale. Put simply, private traffic is the natural, organic traffic that you generate without having to pay customers to reach you. Whether it be your company website or a WeChat Mini Program that goes rival with no marketing spend on your side, private traffic is the holy grail - free, targeted traffic from potential customers. The more of it you’re able to generate, the better your margins!
Yin Fa translates to the silver-haired generation, a blanket term for the over 50s in China. Now representing a third of all consumers, who spend more time on their smartphones than ever before, they’re a relatively under-tapped market segment that brands are now pivoting towards. With more time to engage, high levels of disposable income and a passion for quality products, brands in the health, lifestyle, finance, and travel sectors have found the most success targeting Yin Fa consumers, though virtually every industry can target them.
Key Opinion Consumers
We’ve talked at length about influencers and Key Opinion Leaders in China, but less so about the next subsection: key opinion consumers, which are the micro-influencers that can make a big difference to your brand. Despite having smaller audiences than KOLs, they tend to have a deeper relationship with their audience, creating hyper-focused communities that are gold-dust for brands. Tapping into KOC marketing could help new market entrants build audiences and drive sales, and existing international brands grow their China market share.
As local and international brands realise the true potential of Chinese social networks like Weibo and WeChat for brand awareness and sales, more are turning to MCN. Although the concept has fallen out of favour in markets like the United States, it’s an ecosystem that’s thriving in China, allowing brands to consolidate influencer resources across various social and ecommerce platforms and help drive an explosion in sales. Brands exploit influencer networks to push their products and services to the masses, and KOLs earn a kickback.
Daigou means “buying on behalf of,” where consumers request products from luxury brands not available in China and a tourist or agency will buy them on their next trip or import them into the country. The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a knockout blow to China’s gray market for luxury goods purchased overseas, but it has demonstrated the value of expanding into the country for brands yet to do so. Whether you sell fashion or FMCG, evaluating the demand from various “daigou markets” can help determine whether it’s worthwhile investing in China.
Chinese consumers refer to fake followers on social media as “zombies”. Before you embark on a KOL or influencer marketing campaign, make sure that you’ve evaluated their followers to check that they’re real. It’s common for influencers and brands to pay for fake followers to boost their audience size and convince businesses and customers that they’re more popular and established than they really are. It’s also possible to artificially inflate your own follower count in the country, but the negatives outweigh the positives and could damage your brand.
Though international brands entering China have primarily focused on affluent consumers with high levels of disposable income, market saturation means that they now have their sights on consumers with different demographics. Xiachen is a common buzzword on the Chinese digital marketing scene, describing the process of adapting your brand to reach the lower-tier markets. Consumers in these areas value quality products at an affordable price, have different content preferences to those in cosmopolitan cities, and enjoy rising income levels, which makes them more attractive to brands and a growing target in the country.
Chinese consumers are naturally cautious about buying from new and emerging brands in the country, so becoming a ‘Big V’ can boost your credibility and marketability. The term stands for verified accounts, and lets users know on networks like Weibo that the user or brand is legitimate and has been verified. Corporations can apply for a blue V badge, whilst personal accounts have orange V badges. As a foreign business, you’ll need to pay $1,000 for verification, whereas Chinese businesses pay just 300 RMB, so it’s often worth incorporating in the country to take advantage of cheaper verification and customer support.
How many of these Chinese marketing terms did you know about? Got another one that you need some clarification on? Get in touch with Zudu China and check back soon for more.