Choose the right social media in China

 

A common mistake made by businesses targeting the Chinese customer at home or overseas is to assume that they use the same social media channels as most customers in America, Asia and Europe.

WeChat and Weibo influence choice

According to a new report on Chinese consumers, Chinese cross-border shoppers rely heavily on social media platforms to guide their purchasing decisions, with over 60% of online shoppers using WeChat and Weibo to search for information and view ads.

While this may not be much of a surprise given the mobile-first ethos of the Chinese economy, what is striking is that 48% of international travellers and 30% of overseas residents say they rely on WeChat and Weibo before making purchases of international goods and services.

Companies wishing to tap into the lucrative Chinese cross-border market, even if they are local, may still need to consider advertising on Chinese consumers-preferred platforms if they wish to reach them effectively.

Chinese consumers are also displaying a growing preference for global brands: overseas spending by Chinese consumers reached almost US$200 billion in 2017, according to a study published by Westwin, a leading marketing firm that focuses on cross-border business.

Alipay payment platform dominates

The '2018 report on Cross-border Consumption of Chinese Consumers' examines consumption behaviours in three segments of cross-border consumers: domestic online shoppers, international travellers, and overseas residents (Chinese consumers working or studying overseas), an often-neglected segment. The report surveyed consumers in China, Singapore, Australia, Canada, the US and the UK.

The report finds that China's mobile payment platform Alipay comes in the lead with both online domestic shoppers (91%) and international travellers (69%).

The "Chinese men don't care about their looks" stereotype also needs to be re-thought: figures suggest the number of male online shoppers of cosmetics (77%) was found to be close to that of their female counterparts (90%).

Brands need to consider their sales partners in China carefully, by matching their products offering with the right platform, rather than just going for the market leader.

Brand image is key

Over 40% of overseas Chinese residents and travellers see a brand's story, their origin and culture as a deciding factor when making purchases. Online shoppers (67%) and international travellers (61%) look to friends, family and key opinion leaders (Influencers) before making their decisions. Therefore, a brand's image matters as much in the wider community as it does within their target market.

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