Establishing a strong presence for your brand on the other side of the world does not come without its challenges. Nor can it be achieved with a copy-and-paste approach, expecting what works for your customers in the UK to work internationally. For businesses in virtually every sector, China offers a unique opportunity to grow your venture and significantly boost sales, but you must take the time to get to grips with the social and cultural differences between its consumers and your existing customer base. Below, we’ve put together advice if you’re looking to target a young, affluent Gen Z audience in China.
Focus on building loyalty
Perhaps one of the most important goals for an international business targeting China is to build brand awareness and loyalty. Although Chinese consumers are statistically more brand-loyal than those in other territories, brands must still work hard to win them over. It’s a strategy that requires both consistency and patience - you cannot expect to create brand evangelists overnight, nor will you win over every customer. Build a unique proposition that helps you appeal to your target demographic, and focus on delivering the very best service (with personalisation, targeted adverts, and freebies) to build and retain a loyal audience.
Make trust a priority
Just as important as brand loyalty is trust. Consumers are only going to buy from you if they know that your business is established, well-respected, and can deliver good quality products. As a new market entrant, this can be one of the most difficult tasks, persuading those initial prospects to part with their cash and buy from your ecommerce store. After all, there are more than 35 million registered businesses in the country - why should someone buy from you when they can choose a more experienced local seller? What’s more, Gen Z shoppers are increasingly conscious of their data, so you should be transparent on how you handle their personal information, clearly display trust markers such as WeChat Pay and SSL certificates, and ask for reviews and recommendations which can help you to build trust and credibility. Offering discounts in exchange for reviews could help accelerate progress.
Depend on data
Though think tanks spend millions collecting data on Chinese consumers, publishing their findings with the world, you cannot beat your own data, which you can use to understand what your actual customers want from your business. Invest in analytics tools as soon as you launch your ecommerce store and company website, and you’ll be able to identify new behaviours, trends, and common pain points and then make changes to your offering to accommodate them. One trend that has exploded in recent years is customisation, with brands like Louis Vuitton making data-backed decisions to launch personalised products.
Adopt an omnichannel approach
Although Gen Z consumers typically make purchases online, one must not overlook the value of an omnichannel customer experience. The truth is that a UK startup may not be able to open a bricks and mortar store in Shanghai, but there are ways to leverage offline touchpoints and reach consumers in different ways. Having retailers stock your products on a trial basis can be a great way to build your presence, backing it up with a viral WeChat marketing campaign to drive traffic to those stores. Investing in digital platforms such as WeChat and Douyin can help, too, whilst listing your products on trusted online marketplaces like Tmall and JD.com can help maximise your sales potential and unlock an additional revenue stream. Even luxury Western brands such as Estée Lauder that have invested in ecommerce websites and apps have official brand stores on third-party marketplaces, similar to companies listing their products on Amazon here in the West.
Partner with influencers
Finally, enlist the help of key opinion leaders and influencers to connect with your target demographic and create personalised, conversion-focused content. Whether you source influencers yourself or work with an agency, finding a network of micro-influencers who can help spread the word about your brand will serve you well. We’ve put together a whole host of resources to help you get started, including a guide to using KOLs as part of your marketing campaigns and a breakdown of the differences between influencers and KOLs.
Incorporating these strategies into your overall marketing campaign can help you connect with Gen Z consumers who have high levels of disposable income and a passion for trying new brands. If you need assistance, contact the team at Zudu China on 01382 690080.