Many foreign brands pin their hopes on Chinese social media and ecommerce platforms to get traction into the China market. This is not surprising given the way consumers are increasingly interacting with brands in China. In a hyper-competitive market where there is plethora of digital channels for every predilection and taste consumers are spoilt for choice, and brands need to be alert to new channels and business models and be ready to adapt early.
Having the right infrastructure to support your Chinese business is important to amplify your brand. This starts with understanding the digital-commerce marketplace and your online consumers. Engaging with just one platform is not enough – they are interrelated, and your strategy needs to work across search, ecommerce and social, respectively. Each have the capability to connect your brand with millions of new customers.
Adopting an integrated platform strategy in a market where up to 70 percent of internet users shop online is critical. This typically involves managing a flagship store on Tmall or Taobao, selling through cross-category platforms, such as JD.com, and category specific sites, such as beibei.com, and creating brand campaigns via social media.
China’s leading social media platforms are attuned to commerce and opportunities to work with brands, none more so than WeChat. WeChat has evolved from messaging and social networking, to a customer relationship management, commerce, and payments service. Pretty much everyone with a mobile phone in China has WeChat. WeChat has overtaken Weibo as the social channel of choice.
With the exponential expansion of digitally-mediated communication, information overload has become a problem. Trend research is showing social media users are browsing more, but interacting, commenting, and posting less (Kantar). Campaigns that encourage engagement – like games, contests, giveaways and polls – have tended to be the most effective way to engage and build reputation, but there is evidence that interest in this type of campaign is waning. Consumers are constantly seeking the next big thing.
Winning in the technologically transformative Chinese market increasingly requires leading-edge capabilities, beyond the transactional, to partner in the multi-channel commerce environment, and manage customer insight and engagement.