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How Not to Waste Budget for Promotion in China?

Entering the Chinese market and the launch of an ad campaign in China are accompanied by many risks for even the most experienced businessmen. For not to spend money on unnecessary promotion channels in the first months and not to lose the entire budget in the jaws of “Chinese dragon”, many factors should be taken into account. We discuss them below.


Analyzing potential competitors and demand

The first and most important thing you need to do is to identify your main competitors: learn more about their offers, prices and product quality, and study the demand for this kind of product. This stage will be an initial test of your business's viability in China. Often, as early as at this stage some manufacturers realize that they can not offer competitive pricing or that the market is saturated with these products. We can conduct a competitor analysis for you if you have doubts about the successful sales of your products in China.

Building a marketing strategy and positioning

Brand/company positioning and building a marketing strategy are also among the most essential points for entering the Chinese market. For example, many small companies begin their exports to China with the same positioning mistake: they completely localize the package, leave no text in a foreign language, and decorate everything with pandas and dragons. Although, the Chinese most often prefer imported goods that have everything written in a foreign language on the package and that look similar to something Western. They think that imported goods are better than Chinese ones. Here, improper positioning makes the manufacturer to spend a lot of money for repacking and adapting the appearance and, most importantly, to lose potential customers. One need to remember that China is a country with its own unique history, traditions and cultural features, and good brand marketing and initially proper positioning will both distinguish your product from the others and ensure stable sales.

FamilyMart. FamilyMart, China’s largest chain of small convenience stores Example: minimum package localization of large brands on the FamilyMart shelves

Analyzing the tastes and features of Chinese consumers

This is especially true for companies that import food, clothing, and cosmetics. For example, if you are going to sell such an uncommon food as canned vegetables or jams in China, then you should first find out how much the Chinese like that kind of food, how they perceive it, and how it can be tailored for the Chinese consumers. For example, the Oreo cookie company launched a special Chinese line of flavors – Oreo with green tea, red beans, pink lychee, pork skewers, and spicy pepper. Western consumers would hardly like those tastes, but in China this line of Oreo cookies broke all Taobao sales records. Another example: suppose that you produce beauty care products; then you should know a Chinese specificity, namely, that men look after themselves almost on a par with girls. Therefore, it is worthy to consider revising the product range and adding a line for men.

oreo cookie ad. Advertisement of Oreo cookies with unusual flavors
taobao male cosmetics ad. Advertisement of powder and a facial kit for men on Taobao

Identifying the target audience and a platform for promotion

Some do not understand well why to identify the target audience and often answer like this: “Our target audience is women and men from 18 to 40.” This is a completely wrong approach. You should clearly know the portrait of your consumer, so as not to waste the promotion budget. Determine the needs of clients and their benefits from dealing with you, and be sure to prepare a USP (unique selling proposition) that would clearly distinguish you from the competitors. After you identify who and what your consumer is, you can choose the right sites for promotion in China. For example, if you produce premium cosmetics aimed at girls aged from 15 to 30, then it will be more appropriate to promote in the Douyin short video service but not in Kuaishou, since Douyin features a more solvent and young audience. There are a lot of such ins and outs, so it is essential to clearly identify your target audience, and, based on this, correctly choose the tools for Internet marketing and offline promotion in China.

Another issue: many businessmen want to launch immediately contextual advertising on Baidu because they know that Google Ads shows good results in Europe and the USA; however, this is far from being sure for China. It may happen that their particular kind of product will be much better sold on Little Red Book or other e-commerce platforms. Some ads in China are more effective than others, so one needs to analyze each segment and industry separately, and, based on that, choose the appropriate promotion channels.

Pony douyin account. Douyin account of Pony 朴惠敏, the famous beauty blogger

Product quality

Quality is the main secret of successful promotion in China. Word of mouth in China is very powerful. If a Chinese likes your product, he/she will certainly tell all his/her friends and relatives about it, present it to his/her friend for the birthday, and will be happy to participate in any marketing activities you carry out in Chinese social media. Product quality has a straight effect on successful sales in China.

Relevant content

Content design in Chinese social media is very different from what we used to see on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. The content of WeChat is especially dissimilar to any Western social networks in both internal interface and the way of presentation. Content is also essential to convey the basic values of your brand to the Chinese consumer, therefore, our content is created by Chinese native speakers who can work in the best Chinese editing software :)

wechat article example. Example: a poorly designed article design in WeChat | Example: a professionally designed article

If you would like to start a business with China but are not sure that your product will be sold well, we can provide you a full-fledge consultation for free. Contact us, and we will answer all your questions, choose the relevant sites, and prepare a personalized promotion offer.

Alexander Sabantsev
I am Alexander, I am an expert in Chinese marketing and a sinologist. Author of blog articles ChinaDigital, Reddit, Medium.

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