So you’re interested in selling in China? Great! There are plenty of opportunities for companies looking to expand into the Chinese market, according to speakers at Alibaba’s Gateway ‘17 event this week.
But it’s not as easy as just listing some products and arranging shipments to China. You actually have to learn how to market to Chinese consumers.
Small Business Trends attended the inaugural Gateway’17 event June 20 and 21 at Cobo Center in Detroit. Here’s a report from the conference with tips for marketing products in China according to Gateway ‘17’s speakers and experts.
Tips for Marketing in China
Tell Your Brand Story
“Chinese consumers want to hear your brand story,” said Amee Chande, managing director of global strategy and operations for Alibaba Group in a presentation Wednesday.
That means they want to buy from brands they feel connected to. Especially if you’re importing products, you have to build some kind of trust by sharing information about your brand, both in your store and through other methods.
So don’t simply put your products out there and expect them to sell themselves. You need to provide great products and a great brand in order for Chinese consumers to trust you enough to buy.
Decorate Your Store
If you’re selling products on Tmall, which is a good strategy since it’s the most popular marketplace among Chinese consumers, then you have a lot of options for sharing more information about your products and your brand.
Within Tmall and other marketplaces, you can customize your store completely. Add your own branding elements, product updates and other content. This can help your storefront stand out and also keep customers coming back for more.
Update Your Feed
One of the most popular features on Tmall is the news feed, which you can use to “decorate” your store. This is similar to what you might be used to on social media sites like Facebook. You can share new products and company updates regularly.
According to Chande, young people on Tmall log in and look at news feeds from their favorite stores up to seven times a day. So making those updates interesting and appealing to Chinese shoppers could potentially spur a lot of sales.
Utilize Live Streaming
Live streaming is another marketing tool available on Tmall. And it can be a powerful way to build up some brand trust by showing the actual people behind your brand or the product in action. You can share a company event, new product release or even tutorials related to your offering.
Take Advantage of Shopping Holidays
In China, there are shopping holidays just like there are in the U.S. But the actual holidays are different. So don’t just discount your products on Cyber Monday and expect tons of sales. Do some research on the popular holidays in China and the promotions available on platforms like Tmall.
For example, November 11 is known as “Singles Day” in China (because of all the 1’s in 11/11). An answer to Valentine’s Day, Singles Day is all about buying yourself gifts or buying small items for friends. It’s a major opportunity for any business that sells in China.
Try Bundling or Unique Discounts
Like customers anywhere, Chinese customers love a great deal. So discounts and promotions can be a great way to get some attention for your products.
Sam Wolf, founder of LuckyVitamin, a brand that has found success selling on Tmall said of the company’s customers in China, “They love getting a good bargain. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re just looking for rock bottom prices. But they want to feel like they’re getting a good deal when they buy something.”
So it’s not just about cutting prices. But if you can offer a unique promotion or create some bulk discounts so customers can see more value in their purchases, it could be worthwhile.
Do Your Research
It’s also important, no matter what actual marketing methods you use, to do research about your customers and market beforehand. There are plenty of cultural and logistical differences that come with selling in China. So you need to do research and work with partners who can help you understand the landscape.
Overall, you need to have patience and make sure to do your due diligence instead of jumping right in. Marketing and selling in China isn’t something that just anyone can do. You need to be really dedicated to it in order to succeed.
Michael Zakkour, Vice President of China/APAC and global eCommerce practices for Tompkins International said in a discussion at the Gateway’17 event, “In China, everything is possible. But nothing is easy.”
Offer Personalized Service
Your customer service is also part of your marketing in China. Chinese consumers expect fast shipping and answers to all of their questions, according to Wolf. So you need to consider your shipping time and customer service availability to be part of your marketing efforts and make it a priority.
Create Virtual Shopping Experiences
Tmall also offers opportunities for sellers to take advantage of new technology like virtual reality and augmented reality in order to create unique experiences for customers.
For example, if you have a unique retail location and also sell online, you could offer a virtual shopping experience that lets customers feel like they’re actually walking around your store when they’re shopping online. Or you could use augmented reality to help customers make buying decisions, like trying on virtual makeup or arranging virtual furniture in a photo of your living room.
Keep Up With New Technology
And that’s just the beginning of the possibilities that technology offers to businesses selling in China. Tmall and other marketplaces are constantly working to update their offerings. So you need to keep up with those trends and adapt with them if you’re going to stay relevant with customers in China.
Shopping on Taobao Photo via Shutterstock
Other Images: Small Business Trends/Annie Pilon