Even though the liquor market in China has experienced a slowdown in recent years due to anti-corruption policies, it is still growing in B2C. In 2016, China was even the host country of the largest spirits market in the world…
B2C, Growing in China
The growth of the Chinese middle class in recent years has increased the purchasing power of the Chinese. This increase has led to a new Chinese interest in foreign brands of alcohol, in search of originality and authenticity.
Thus, the import of foreign brand alcohol increased by almost 27% in 2017. This trend also stems from the policy of the single child, children pampered by their parents and who are now followers of services and exclusive and quality products.
The legitimacy of foreign brands of alcohol in China
The market is therefore a real opportunity because of its potential consumers but also the notoriety of foreign brands, which are poorly represented there compared to local brands.
What do these Chinese consumers want?
The approach to take when launching a product on the Chinese market is special. The culture of “Mianzi” (literally “the face”) must be well understood by any marketing team. The look of the other is indeed very important in China, it is even a key point in terms of marketing.
The Chinese are likely to want to try foreign brands because they are often guarantees of quality and more expensive. This gives them a good “face” compared to their peers.
In addition, imported spirits are often of better quality. In a market where counterfeiting affects all areas and where scandals over local products are repeated, the Chinese no longer hesitate to invest in these products.
How to market alcohol in the Chinese market?
Digitize yourself! China’s e-commerce market is the largest in the world. The Middle Kingdom at the advent of digital has refused to integrate western platforms, benefiting local platforms. China has thus created its own digital sphere. Foreign brands will therefore have to adapt to these platforms, to radically different operating methods. Read this comprehensive guide to learn about the steps to export Spirits to China.
1 – Choose your online platform wisely
To launch a brand in China, you have several options, including cross-border e-commerce platforms such as Tmall, Taobao and JD. Interesting in terms of traffic, they are however difficult to attract Chinese users because many well-known brands are already present there.
You can also create your own website, which allows you to control everything from content to site design. However, generating traffic and converting sales can be difficult because the Chinese love Tmall and Taobao where they know the sales process is secure. So you will first have to earn their trust.
You can also create your own store on the WeChat mini programs, which makes it easier to control your content. However, make sure that your program does not exceed 2 megabytes to optimize the fluidity and speed of page loading.
2 – Use Baidu (if you choose to develop your platform)
The Chinese have little confidence in advertisements. Optimizing your organic SEO on Baidu, the Chinese Google, will therefore be much more effective than buying media.
The SEO of your site will be very important if you want to sell on the Chinese market:
- Your site must be hosted in China for the fluidity and speed of page loading;
- Your site must be in simplified Chinese because it is the language best scanned by Baidu. Chinese sites are favored by the search engine;
- Regularly posting content and bringing something new to your site allows you to optimize its ranking on Baidu’s results pages;
- Be careful with your content: China applies strict rules regarding content on websites, we can’t laugh at everything. If it’s important to tailor its content to the Chinese market, beware of cultural differences;
- Generate backlinks to your site so that Baidu understands that you are a reference in your field. But don’t forget that linkspamming is punished by the platform.
3 – Make the most of Chinese social networks
WeChat, and Weibo in particular, are the social networks of reference for the Chinese.
- WeChat: the essential application in China
In the first quarter of 2018, WeChat reached the threshold of one billion monthly active users on its platform and nearly 900 million daily users. To get started on the Chinese platform, you will need an official account.
WeChat can provide you with practical tools to promote your brand, namely QR codes that can be used on other marketing materials (brochures, posters, etc.) to increase your visibility.
WeChat Pay : one of the most well-known and useful features of WeChat is its portfolio which allows you to do almost everything. The best way to use this feature is to use coupons for special offers. If you decide to create your e-shop on Wechat, this functionality allows you to make the payment directly.
The moments ” : this is the Chinese version of a Facebook news feed, where users can share photos, videos, articles, links, mini-programs, only visible to the user’s friends. Besides being good tools for social networks, they are also a great way to promote your business, especially with Moment ads which are one of the first marketing strategy tools usable by companies to launch their brand. in China. For more information on the subject: how to maximize your exposure on Wechat.
- Weibo: useful for the exhibition
With nearly 431 million active users per month in 2018, Weibo is also a very important platform in China. Often assimilated to Twitter, this Chinese platform actually offers a wider range of services.
For a Weibo campaign, the fact that the maximum capacity of a publication is 140 characters forces the marketing team to think about the real message, the purpose of the publication. They must create a clear and concise message that goes directly to the minds of potential customers! However, if you really need to exceed this limit, the “article” feature allows you to share content longer than 140 characters.
The real strength of Weibo is the native Ads (inspired by Facebook) which allows you to target users based on their area of interest, for an attractive price.
On Weibo, you have to play the FUN card!
Weibo can display very useful features that allow the company (and users of course) to add videos, links, photos, GIFS, etc. to their post. These are details, but in marketing campaigns they can make the post more attractive and more easily grab the attention of users. In addition, like many platforms, Weibo has integrated a survey function. This feature allows companies to collect data to adjust their targeting strategy.
These techniques are useful for organically improving your visibility, but to take advantage of other functions, you have the choice of buying advertising space on the platform.
4 – Press Relations to give credibility
Press relations are very important in China because publishing on popular websites / blogs gives credibility to a brand. To develop your PR, consider targeting sites specialized in your core business (in this case alcohol). Connoisseurs visit these sites, so your notoriety will start to grow thanks to people interested in your product. Then, in a second step, target more general media sites in order to reach a wider target.
Reputation in China is therefore essential to the successful launch of a brand on the Chinese market. So, create marketing campaigns, evaluate the results and adapt your strategy to the specificities of the Chinese market.