The U.S. real estate market is well on its way to recovering from the 2008 collapse and in part, has China to thank. In 2015, according to a study from the Asia Society and Rosen Consulting Group, Chinese investors pumped $37.1 billion into American commercial and residential properties. By 2020, that total is projected to reach a staggering $218 billion.
As the population of China’s high net worth individuals continues to grow at rates which exceed the world average, American real estate agents can capitalize on their known propensity to invest in opportunities abroad. Here are some ways that you can be sure potential Chinese investors will keep you in mind when looking for overseas properties.
1. Establish a Presence
Studies have shown that about 45% of Chinese consumers learn about products through social channels, websites or blogs so it’s crucial that you utilize these owned touchpoints to connect with buyers. Customized landing pages featuring well-designed listings give your brand credibility and blogs are great for educating investors about what you’re selling. Social media is now an absolute necessity as it’s ideal for interacting directly with prospects. The key is to make yourself accessible. Because if your exes can’t track you down on the Internet, then your buyers won’t be able to find you either.
2. Know the Influencers
Luxury brands have found great success leveraging the impact that online influencers have on Chinese consumers, not only by utilizing key opinion leaders but also by working with “Micro-Influencers” who enjoy fewer but more devoted enthusiasts. China has the largest population in the world so marketing to its entirety is like casting your net in a giant ocean. Instead try hitting a much smaller pond by targeting the niche audiences of lesser known fan favorites. You should seek out and then build a relationship with a personality that has some established following as well as expertise in applicable areas like real estate, architecture, etc.
3. Be Culturally Sensitive
Though Chinese buyers often purchase American properties sight unseen, they are known for being cautious consumers. To help them feel comfortable, you should be aware of their customs and prepare to answer their questions in appropriate ways. You should also tailor your pitch to ensure it resonates with this audience or, more importantly, that it doesn’t scare them off. For instance, the number 4 is a homonym for the word “death” in Chinese. So you should avoid using this number whenever possible in pricing or marketing materials lest these targets associate your listings with their own demise. Ultimately, educating yourself on the specific needs and spending habits of China’s luxury goods consumers will pay off when it comes time to close long-distance deals.
4. Climb the Firewall
Targeting Chinese investors means working around China’s very strict laws about Internet content and usage. For example, your marketing efforts should avoid incorporating platforms such as YouTube, instead using Chinese video hosting sites like Youku, Qiyi or Tudou. You’ll also want to make sure your site is optimized for Baidu, China’s version of Google. And as for that social media presence we suggested you establish, consider building one on popular networking sites like WeChat or Weibo. Just be sure to keep in mind that half of all Chinese citizens use the Internet, so presenting unique content is imperative to cutting through the clutter. For example, because these consumers have shown to be drawn to narratives about things like love and success, consider incorporating such forms of storytelling to make your listings come to life and draw prospects into your pitches.
5. Embrace Mobile Marketing
China is now home to over 1.3 billion mobile users and nearly everyone in the country owns a cell phone. Therefore it’s no surprise that mobile advertising spends make up over 22% of total ad spends there, a higher level than any other market in the world. When building out your Chinese marketing strategy, be sure to include mobile marketing opportunities that will showcase your available properties to investors on the go.
Given that in 2015, the average price for an American home purchased by Chinese buyers was $831,000, this is a group clearly ready and willing to make large investments in U.S. real estate and one that you should absolutely target with culturally appropriate efforts that will reach potential consumers in China.
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.
As the Chinese middle and upper classes enjoy increased disposable income, their tastes have grown more expensive. In 2015, luxury good spending in mainland China reached $19.3 billion or about 31% of the global market. But before you rush to get your pricey products listed on Alibaba or Tmall, consider these interesting facts about Chinese buyers willing to shell out more yuan for international indulgences.
1. They’re not just shopping in China.
Many Chinese consumers now buy luxury items in Europe and other parts of Asia, where lower taxes make prices significantly cheaper than in the mainland. In fact, it was estimated that 80% of China’s total luxury spending was made overseas in 2015. Though efforts are being made to slow down the “gray market” that has arisen for international purchases, for now Chinese travelers are as likely to buy expensive items abroad as they are cheap souvenirs.
2. It isn’t about logos.
Chinese consumers have evolved beyond simply loving labels, so brand alone no longer determines a product’s success in this market. A survey conducted by Simon-Kucher & Partners showed that China’s luxury buyers now place the highest value on product quality (74%), style (70%) and comfort (70%) when making fashion purchases, while Bain & Company found that 39% of wealthy Chinese don’t find logos to be a priority. That collective sigh you hear in the distance is from Louis Vuitton’s marketing department.
3. The consumers are younger than you’d think.
The average age of Chinese luxury consumers, at home or abroad, is 33.1 years. And more than 80% of all Chinese luxury consumers are between the ages of 25 and 44. This is a generation of shoppers that has grown up on luxury marketing campaigns and which embraces the concept of “Treat Yo’ Self.” But in China they call it Singles’ Day.
4. The Internet is where you’ll find them.
Chinese consumers are quite likely to research luxury brands on the Internet or apps, and are open to developing a relationship that goes beyond the point of sale with the companies behind them. Albatross Global Solutions found that about 75% of China’s most affluent consumers follow brands online and that almost 90% of them want to be contacted by brands they have purchased. Organizations now take advantage of these stats by allocating about 35% of their marketing budget to digital efforts, and that number is growing.
5. The brand story matters.
According to McKinsey&Company, Chinese consumers are now finding that the allure of luxury products can be driven by a brand’s cultural heritage. For that reason, outside luxury brands have found success in promoting their history and craftsmanship as selling points. But there’s also something to be said for assimilation as one-third of luxury consumers expressed a preference for items that incorporated Chinese imagery or that were designed specifically for China.
Thanks to rising incomes, the availability of products online and more openness towards displaying wealth, Chinese consumers now feel increasingly comfortable investing in luxury items. This presents an incredible opportunity for marketers accustomed to targeting less cost-conscious consumers if they’re willing to take the time to understand the nuances of this growing market.
In 2016, winding your way around the World Wide Web feels less like surfing the Internet and more like an acid trip. Once a place where marketers felt comfortable presenting carefully curated content has become an assault of seemingly random sights and sounds driven to virality by the curious enjoyment of consumers. Sure the typical tales of the Kardashians, their romances and their stolen jewelry will likely remain a part of the mainstream media’s messaging, but it’s far more aberrant posts which are rising to the top of trending stories, where they find more staying power than can be bought with millions of brand dollars.
“Content Shock,” or the theory that a person can only consume so much content, is no longer just a scary hypothetical addition to the marketer’s lexicon. It has been with us for quite some time and grows increasingly apparent to those who pay attention to what goes viral. People have become so inundated with communications, be they push marketing or branded content, native or social, that linear ideas and images no longer hold the same magic they did less than a decade ago. These three trends showcase the psychology of social virality in a world where content marketers are dead and “differentiation agents” will have to take their place to ensure impactful messaging moving forward:
- Cat Breading: The Birth of Non-Linear Marketing
There are few forces more powerful to marketers than that of novelty and intrigue. Neurobiologists have even found a region of the midbrain referred to as its “novelty center” which responds to unique stimuli by activating the release of dopamine. But despite their best efforts, many advertisers are unable to inspire these emotions in consumers even while heavily investing in creative pieces designed to break the mold. That’s because even their most original offerings are no match for a picture of a cat with a piece of bread around its head.
What began as a Tumblr post in 2011 and became the subject of a South Park episode in 2012 is still available as a Snapchat filter option in 2016, without any sort of branded promotional dollars behind it. Why? Because bread cats are non-linear, if not downright absurd, and for that reason they demand attention and inspire loyalty. Their novelty is intriguing to a population tired of being bombarded by far more purposeful content provided by advertisers. To really be heard, modern marketers need to take a step back from deliberate attempts at established variation, instead looking towards ideas that use confusion to their own advantage by inspiring the strange delight of consumers.
- Boaty McBoatface: The Power of Crowdsourced Humor
Super Bowl ads still drive a relatively engaged audience at scale due to carefully scripted, humor-based creative formats with celebrity power baked in at an opportune time. But these expensive marketing efforts can pale in comparison to the amount of earned media that can be garnered by a crowdsourced non-advertisement. Consider the Internet frenzy created in May when a British government agency decided to let netizens decide the name of a $287 million research vessel.
Quicker than virtually any brand-driven call to action could inspire, hundreds of thousands of voters flocked to support the moniker “Boaty McBoatface” and organic virality was instantly achieved, with the naming convention still showing up in nominations for more recent, similar contests. The force at work driving the popularity of this concept is its open-ended, unscripted opportunity for humor. When audiences are allowed to determine the direction the content takes rather than having it forced upon them, they respond. The lesson to marketers here is a deep one. The Internet doesn’t just want freedom of expression. It wants control over the direction the conversation takes. It wants to decide, rather than be told, what is funny and brands may benefit from incredible viral potential by letting it making such choices.
- Buzzfeed Basics: The Switch from Bigger Pictures to Smaller Ones
The media has changed in far greater ways than just a shift to digital content. This evolution is reflected not only in how stories are being shared but also by what is being talked about. Today’s most widely circulated news/entertainment websites now offer many narratives driven by random people in unusual situations, with articles like “A Raccoon Stole This Guy’s Phone and The Hilarious Chase Was Caught On Video” enabling Buzzfeed to become the most popular viral site month after month. That so many highly read stories are now quick-fire tales of circumstances with absolutely no relevance outside of an entertaining diversion demonstrates how popular content is becoming reflective of the self-involved generation which is consuming it. To combat this gap between what audiences want and what brands are able to offer, marketers need to realize they will lose relevance if they rely on pushing their clients’ established storylines, instead engaging the media with unique assets more appealing to journalists’ current desire to cover the little things.
Certainly, creating unique content remains an important aspect of a communications strategy, but unless consumers’ needs for authentic virality drivers are taken into account, all of the marketing dollars in the world are no match for the psychology which leads consumers to crave non-linear randomness in what messages they find worthwhile.
Let’s be honest, everyone has heard of Facebook… Even my dog knows about Facebook! If you don’t, then you should know that my dog is cooler than you. Today Facebook is the biggest social network in the world and has been around since 2004. That’s a long stinking time! FB grows more each week and there is literally always something new being pushed out into this weird social sphere, and I know it is hard to keep up.
For personal use, it’s a great way to connect with new people, stay in touch with old friends, co-workers and family. But what I prefer to use it for is…BUSINESS. Surprise, Surprise. EVERY BUSINESS and or COMPANY SHOULD HAVE A FACEBOOK PAGE. For starters, it is free exposure for your company but you can also choose to pay to promote it within this giant platform. Potential clients/customers are able to like or rate your page in a way that somewhat resembles a Yelp profile.
It also gives you access to all your analytics so you track every click, like, and other activity on your FB page. Not only have I used FB for heavy-duty businesses but also for SMBs like local restaurants. It doesn’t matter how big or small the business is, if you keep up with the page and put actual effort into it then you will get your brand’s name out there. Nothing ticks me off more than people complaining that their posts or their page doesn’t have enough likes. Well, maybe it’s because you aren’t committed to the page. How can you expect a random person to like a page that has no effort put into it? BE SMART PEOPLE. This is why companies have social media moderators. They have one or two specific people whose job is to make the FB along with all other social pages absolutely amazing and cohesive to direct traffic to each page. You must utilize free social media and anyone who says they don’t have time is a freaking liar. With social media available right on your phone no one should be excused and it only take a few minutes a day.
Now go get your likes people!
Earlier today my co-workers and I had a 10-minute conversation on the difference between affect and effect. I was just about to send out a pitch when I noticed the green squiggly line of death so I asked my co-workers who were correct – Word or me. Summer hopped on Google, found the answer and informed me that Word was correct… shocker. She continued to read out loud saying that because there is so much confusion around identifying the difference between “affect” and “effect”, more people have started using “impact” instead.
It’s not uncommon for me to switch out words from one that I know sounds more intelligent to a word that’s easier to spell but it shocked me that this is a fairly common practice. Its pure laziness of course, I mean Google and Thesaurus.com are always at my fingertips. Despite being raised with spellcheck and smartphones we should never dumb ourselves down. Perhaps our generation just doesn’t care. We’ve been able to cheat our way through a lot of things older generations couldn’t.
I remember my mother telling me stories about typing papers for English class in high school on her typewriter. If she messed up one word she would have to retype the entire thing. That sounds like a living hell to me. I would have been so frustrated everyday, especially working in PR.
We truly are blessed with the technology at our hands. We are obliged to use the tools we have to help ourselves. Google it, ask Siri, literally anything. Don’t let yourself be dumbed down when you can easily and quickly find the correct words on your phone, tablet or laptop.
Lots of love,
When was the last time you got excited about direct mail?
When you think of direct mail you hardly think of something immersive or engrossing, since the experience is most often limited to what you’re seeing in your hand or on a surface in front of you.
However, with a virtual reality (VR) direct mail viewer you can turn every phone into a conversation with your experience right in the middle of it.
So far VR has shown that it can effectively help people visualize the future, spark empathy, grasp more complex concepts, and communicate stories in compelling ways.
For example, VR has the potential to help us become “better people”.
When VR direct mail is a good opportunity
I’m regularly tasked with thinking of new marketing experiments to capture value for a new product or business. Often these experiments look at testing marketing channels like email, search engine and social media to help the buyer along the buyer journey.
Direct mail is rarely one of these channels. However, direct mail with virtual reality capabilities has moved into an experiment worth considering if certain conditions are met:
- You’re a business with a mailing list that is current and targeted.
- You have a high degree of certainty the recipient fits the characteristics of a high probability buyer or influencer like an existing member, employee, donor, etc.
- The expected benefit of the experiment is greater than the cost of running the experiment.
- The expected benefit = increase in a key metric x probability of success.
Expected benefits of VR direct mail
An expected benefit is likely greater in a VR direct mail campaign when aimed further down the funnel like a new purchase, increase size of purchase and/or shortening of the purchase cycle. It could also be targeting referrals or even just retention.
Keep in mind that you’ll likely need to report on what direct mail has long been measured against, like response rates, cost per lead and cost per acquisition, which includes cost per unit plus all the other costs to produce and manage the campaign.
Since VR direct mail is a digital medium, it can provide insights from the analytics that might factor into the expected benefits you seek. Analytics in VR technology is, unsurprisingly, focused primarily on eye-tracking heat maps. An eye heat map data visualization helps to understand where people are most engaged throughout the experience. This data also provides meaningful clues to what viewers might be missing that you originally intended for them to see or spend more time on items you may not deem relevant. It is ideal to do some testing prior to mailing because the data itself can inform you to make better decisions in other marketing efforts.
Some VR campaigns include video so expect standard video analytics to be a part of measuring engagement.
Risks to avoid when using VR Direct Mail
New technology often gets sucked into the trap of coming across as gimmicky if not done correctly. It is wise to fully adapt and take advantage of the strengths of the medium. If your work is not contributing to the overall enhancement of the experience, then you shouldn’t use it.
Avoiding the Gimmicky Trap:
- VR is not about putting products into alluring 3-D spaces but building an engaging experience.
- The idea is not to have someone look at an advertisement for a bit longer than they typically would. The experience should be exploratory. The user should be in control of the experience, not the advertiser.
Suggested campaign types
Keeping the buying process in mind, here are some suggestions on what to consider when creating, not only an exciting experience, but a meaningful expected benefit for your first VR direct mail campaign.
- Interactive Tours — Let your customers choose their own adventure while their data tells you how to plan your roadmap.
- VR Post Cards in Giftshops — Your special exhibits can be brought home to share and cherish as collectible designs.
- Supercharged Showroom — Customers can look under the hood with just a glance and schedule a test drive before the dealer even opens.
- 3D Model Previews — Invite your VIPs to the grand opening and let them pre-order your reserve stock.
- Contextual Surveys — Know what your customers really want so you can offer incentives that truly make an impact.
- Attention Research — Learning what draws your audience’s eyes during a screening let’s you change the story before it ever goes to market.
- Mass Customization — Speak to every fan through custom covers and original content synced to each card.
- Event Updates — If your customers already have a VR Card, keep the conversation going with fresh content and incentives before the big day.
Hands on examples of how VR can win over an audience
Virtual reality can help you communicate “a day in the life” experience in a very effective way. Here are two examples:
- Planned Parenthood created a VR film ‘Across the Line’ to effectively communicate “the experience of verbal harassment the organization’s employees and patients routinely endure on the way to a clinic’s front door.”
- The Golden State Warriors pitched Kevin Durant with a VR tour of the team’s practice facility and new stadium.
Where to go from here
If you are on a tight budget you could look to VR direct mail to deliver a meaningful impact. Consider all campaign types and review the optimal conditions listed above to determine if you’re in a good position to pitch this type of campaign in a future marketing experiment.
Best of luck!
Interested in learning more about virtual reality? Take a look at the VR AR industry from inside.com which recently included this handy summary on the future of VR.
By 2020 there will be around 42 million VR headsets globally and this will revolutionize the business world, from making hardware type televisions obsolete to letting people attend live concerts from their living rooms. – THE DRUM
Mitchell Posada, Founder & Senior Product Consultant of LeanStart.io
Mitchell Posada runs a CMO as A Service consulting firm LeanStart.io focused on scaling tech-enabled businesses. Mitch has spent most of his career launching digital products and helping businesses leverage technology and process innovation to transform brands and increase ROI. Mitch is known for his Product and Growth strategy and execution consulting to dozens of start-ups in mobile, IoT, digital marketplaces, and sports. Mitch is currently a mentor at 2112inc.com, MatterChicago.com, 1871.com, Super G Accelerator, and Xberts.com. Formerly VP of Marketing at PathfinderSoftware.com, a healthcare software development company. Prior experience with large enterprise includes DHL WorldWide, WellsFargo, Best Buy, AdMob/Google, Humana, Nestle, HP, and IDT Telecom. Mitch earned his M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business at U.C. Berkeley.
So let’s talk about LinkedIn.
In case you don’t have a LinkedIn account then you should probably slap yourself for not getting one sooner. LinkedIn is a site and social app where professionals can connect with other professionals around the world. By creating an account you can add connections, follow groups, share news, write posts, and one of the most important things you can do is display your professional profile for others to see!
This is where you get to brag. You can post your education, hobbies, show people how you spend your free time, show your portfolio, your recent work history, your past titles and your current position. Your connections can endorse your skills to make you look freaking awesome.
It all starts with a basic profile and then through the years you just keep building your connections and your profile. As a freshman in college I had to create a LinkedIn account. Despite the fact that I only had a few work-related occupations my professors told me “the earlier you start, the better”.
This is the most professional way you can contact someone. If you can get one thing out of this rant, goodness gracious create a LinkedIn and try to add people at least three to four times a week. It will pay off in the end, especially if you are networking for a new position or looking to hire someone. It is a network with endless information and opportunities.
Get your copy here
EI Industry Insight – The Maturation of Virtual Reality
Q2 is in the books and our clients have not shown any signs of slowing down! Take a look at what our clients have brought to the media in the past quarter.
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