Advertising Do’s and Don’ts of Chinese Consumer Culture

With its rapidly growing middle class and their increasing disposable incomes, it’s easy to understand why your organization should consider advertising in China. But it’s quite difficult for a brand to effectively expand into this market with no knowledge of its unique customs and tastes. Once you’ve established a budget for your marketing yuan and figured out the differences between Renren and Tencent, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the cultural distinctions that could make or break your interactions with Chinese consumers.

1. DO present e-commerce opportunities.

Increased access to smartphones and social media among the country’s burgeoning middle class means the Chinese are now able to buy products online…and that they’re even more glued to their devices than we are. Pricewaterhousecoopers found that 75% of consumers in China shop online weekly, compared with a global average of 21%.

2. DON’T forget about “Singles’ Day.”

This Chinese shopping holiday was supposedly started by university students celebrating their independence by buying themselves presents on November 11th. While American retailers focus on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, Chinese brands know Singles’ Day is their time to cash in, with $20 billion in sales projected for 2016.

3. DO understand the importance of relationships.

Confucius knew his stuff and based on the principles of Confucianism, the Chinese value harmonious relationships. Therefore, they may respond better to marketing messages that place emphasis on family and friendships as opposed to those accentuating individual pride and autonomy.

4. DON’T ignore your new customer feedback.

Chinese consumers rely heavily on product recommendations from online reviews and are very likely to post their own. With over 200 million users, China’s Dianping could give Yelp a run for its money. According to Forbes, about 75% of all online users provide purchase feedback at least once a month, compared to less than 20% in the U.S.

5. DO take advantage of their tastes.

Tmall.com is China’s largest website for authentic branded goods and its shopping patterns indicate that Chinese consumers choose American brands for several reasons including better quality, product safety and lack of domestic availability. In fact, per a report from the Boston Consulting Group, 61% of China’s consumers are willing to pay more for a product made in the U.S. so if you sell it, they will come.

Due to the distinct behaviors of its consumers, entering the Chinese market may at first seem daunting. But by adopting a culturally sensitive approach to marketing, outside brands can capitalize on the opportunity to expand into this lucrative emerging market.

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