Tips For Getting Into Greater China’s Market Online
With 420 million internet users, China has more active online consumers than the United States and Japan combined. The Chinese market is massive, and the potential for digital enterprises is just waiting to explode.
However, with China’s powerful firewall blocking many western social platforms, one needs to understand what online platforms Chinese consumers use and which ones are the best to focus on for your business.
First of all, the two leading search engines in China are Baidu
and Qihoo 360
, both of which restrict websites in other countries because of copyright issues. To break into the Chinese market, advertisers need to understand the differences between Google and Baidu.
How to reach your audience in China
Retailers should also look into eCommerce platforms such as Taobao
. They are a good way of reaching your audience, although prices are extremely competitive. Amazon’s is also becoming more popular in China thanks to their pay on delivery scheme.
Also look into Wechat
, the fastest growing mobile app in China. The versatile platform offers unmatched opportunities and some of the big name western brands
are already enjoying positive results.
With most of the major social media networks blocked in China, western businesses will need an online presence with social media brands in the Far East. Linkedin
is the only western company with a presence over here.
The fastest growing social platform is Weibo
and is equivalent to Twitter
is popular amongst teenagers whereas Kaixin 001
attracts an older audience and white-collar workers. Youku
is the equivalent of Youtube
How to register a business in China
Before you can begin trading in China you have to register your business and acquire the necessary certificates and licenses. There is a strict process, fees and timescale for registering a business in China
In order to compete with prices in the Far East, you will also require a local warehouse as shipping fees will deter consumers from purchasing your products.
The easiest way to sell to a Chinese audience without a physical presence in the mainland is to use a third party fulfilment company such as Tmall Global
, part of the Alibaba Group Holdings
and China’s largest B2C platform.
However Tmall has qualifying criteria firms must fulfil before they will entertain a partnership deal. They will typically only work with branded companies pulling in US$10m targets.
However, there are hundreds of other logistics firms in China that can help overseas businesses deliver goods to the Chinese market. However, because they are typically small companies they rely on a network of transportation suppliers so make sure you choose a partner that can cover your target area.
Overseas businesses also have to comply with Chinese consumer laws and offer customer support in Chinese. It is wise to seek financial and legal representation in China to oversee systems set-up and business integration.
Optimising your online presence for a Chinese audience
Online marketing in China is not much different from marketing on Google
. Rich content is required, link building restrictions are the same and social media is the most popular method of online marketing.
It is also advisable to use simplified Chinese over traditional Chinese because Baidu’s automatic translation functionality uses simplified Chinese in keyword metadata.
Having said that, using automatic translation is not the best policy as the complex nature of Chinese characters and number of dialects does not make your content read well. It is a better option to employ a local writer.
Chinese consumer culture
Understanding Chinese culture is a good starting point for understanding the audience. Consumer buying habits are complex. On the one hand they want to project their cultural status whilst still buying conservatively.
Brands that perform the best have a story behind their products and services, an identity the Chinese consumer can associate with – as the Wall Street Journal put it “touting the virtues of colourful self-expression.”
In public, the Chinese prefer international brands and are prepared to spend more, whilst household items tend to be modest, local brands – in other words affordable. Such is the philosophy of yin yang counterbalance.
Whilst the Chinese market represents lucrative opportunities for western firms, if you don’t have a game plan or understand your audience, it could be an expensive venture with little gain.
Author: Jonathan Gillespie