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  • By CDRS China Desk

China Marketing: Know the Difference

The smartest practice, when expanding into new markets, is to set up a local team that understands the cultural differences and social norms. Directly copying a marketing campaign just because it worked in another country, or even implementing existing business practices, directly over to a new market can have your business failing right from the start. Each country and its demographics will have different expectations, values and norms that they expect businesses to adhere too.

Marketing to each market and group could never be truer than in China, where many businesses falter in engaging with a Chinese audience. To successfully market and succeed in China, it is essential that you understand these top 5 factors that make the market unique, and what the difference in marketing in China really are:

The Top Factors that Make the Chinese Market Unique

There are a few factors that make the Chinese market unique to anything you would have experienced before:

1) Chinese Customers Have a Digital Focus

The technological markets boom in China, as customers are more willing to try out new tech and digital services. They are open-minded and want to try new things at a very fast pace, but due to this eagerness, trends come and go faster than in the west. Like the west, however, convenience is king, and it will define the customer journey.

2) Gaining Trust is Critical and Difficult

With so many brands and businesses vying for their attention, it is no wonder that the Chinese consumer finds it difficult to commit to one brand. They are in constant fear of being ripped off, and as a result, building trust is an issue. If you are not careful, then your customers will switch to a competitor in a heartbeat, as brand loyalty is very hard to build.

3) Cultural Nuances are Important

Cultural nuances are crucial. This means you need people on the ground to help you successfully migrate into the Chinese market. Even your name needs careful consideration, as direct translations rarely work. Knowing the culture and values of your demographic will dictate where you market, which KOLs (influencers) you use, and how you market across the difference social media verticals. Typically, SEO in China is only one avenue, so you will need to invest in other types of marketing tactics. What you say and how you say it will also matter. It is generally a good idea to refrain from any social commentary and to know that political commentary or satire is just simply off-limits.

4) It's a Fast-Paced Environment

The Chinese market is exceptionally fast-paced. You would, therefore, have to keep the ball rolling with marketing your products and services and trying to become the next biggest thing, even if you currently are the biggest thing.

5) Local Culture Should Dictate marketing Strategy

It is wise to hire a local marketing team, and ideally in each area that you intend to reach. Consider China as it truly is, a country with many different demographics and regions. From different dialects, to different cultures, to different incomes. Cities alone are classed into six separate tiers. It is not realistic to expect a non-Chinese team to create a marketing strategy that will succeed with locals. Diversify to ensure the message you want to send comes across clearly.


Interested in learning more about marketing in China and how we can help you? Let's talk, as we'd love to learn more about your business, your brand, and your goals.

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