Shaky building blocks can become China cornerstones

By Angus Street

KPMG’s China Outlook report has forecast that by 2018 Chinese digital consumers will be spending nearly $1.5 trillion Australian dollars online, and Goldman Sachs predicts that Chinese online sales are tipped to reach AU$2 trillion by 2020.

It is obvious that there is a huge untapped market for Australian companies to sell goods and services to Chinese consumers. However, we also know that the China market is notoriously complex and difficult to navigate. 

Despite the complexity of the market, this is one opportunity worth pursuing. Businesses seeking to tackle the market should break down the opportunity into three channels: social, digital and local.

SOCIAL

  • Get social: Set up a WeChat account. Wechat is the world’s most influential social media network and has transformed the way in which over 855 million people communicate with friends and family, interact with brands and influencers as well as purchase goods and services.
  • Be interactive: Chinese consumers need to be entertained whilst you are educating them on your brand and product. Use videos, virtual reality, music, graphics, emojis, gifs and games to make campaigns fun, interactive and shareworthy. 
  • Stay strategic: Made in Australia is one of your brands greatest associations. To gain legitimacy and build trust, connect your Australian products directly with the Chinese consumer. Talk to the natural, organic or clean ingredients, showcase your supply chain and create a voice that is personal to your brand. 

DIGITAL

  • Coexist online: As Chinese consumers spend more time connected online than any country, the evolution of social media into an ecosystem of ecommerce platforms was inevitable. Map out your customer touchpoints, look to integrate and leverage your digital footprint because driving people through your sales funnel is now more complicated.
  • Go Solo: Adopt a two-pronged approach to selling online. Set up your own ecommerce capabilities to stand out from the crowd. It is also important that you play on the China marketplaces (Tmall, JD.com, VIP.com) to take advantage of their reach. Most importantly, going solo allows you to own the relationship with the consumer and create a unique interaction that no other brand can.

LOCAL

  • The Experience: China’s markets are perhaps the most dynamic – even frenetic - on the planet. Consumers now demand a seamless brand experience. Look to create unique brand experiences for Chinese tourists, engage the local Australian communities and offer something unique to attract the growing student market.
  • Social integration: Creating offline activities to offer the complete brand experience for Chinese consumers will only be worth the investment if you use these activations to acquire new followers on your social and digital channels. This requires more than just putting your WeChat QR code everywhere.
  • Payment Gateways: Don’t let the transaction be the hurdle that trips up the sale. You have done all the hard work getting the shopper in the door, made the experience as personal and culturally sensitive as you can but you don't offer Wepay, Unionpay or Alipay at your POS machine. Such a coach killer.

Keep in mind, there is an interplay between these channels that requires a business to balance its risk and reward appetite. With the right partners, a team with the desired skills as well as a passion to adopt a test, learn, evolve methods you don't have to waste time searching for building blocks. 

Use Bastion S&GO’s cornerstones to just start. Start with a destination in mind, start with questions, start with excitement. Start where you are, with what you have and because this opportunity is being looked at by every Western brand in the world.
 

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