Do you want to do business in China? Yes!
This sounds like a new American dream for many entrepreneurs looking to invest in markets of China and be among the cool businesses that can pull it off. But did you know that several businesses fail to impress Chinese consumers?
In 2011, China became the second most fast-growing economy of the world, by the end of 2019, it is now The Fastest Growing Economy!
China is the temptation for many global brands; the world has seen Benz, McDonald’s, KFC, and many others trying to persuade the Chinese audience. Some were good at it while some made silly blunders when it came to translating the slogans and taglines. This makes one thing clear; translation is a part of the global marketing strategy to enter the Chinese domain.
According to Shawn Mahoney, managing director of EP China consulting group,
“The lack of understanding of the legal and cultural environment has led to most failures. The only difference is between the success and failures are the people, who are willing to talk and learn about how things work on the ground, those are successful”.
China is a Mosaic Market
Doing business in China requires patience, etiquette, and language. Brands are prone to hire Chinese translation services to indicate the regional and local differences and turn them as a part of the homogenized market of China.
China is divided into two major markets; foreign and local. The foreign market retails all the latest products and services from all around the world while the local market has lower quality and technology. The reason for low quality is that Chinese consumers don’t want a perfect product, the products need to be affordable only.
That’s quite different from what a consumer in the west wants. Therefore the vast market’s needs are ever-changing and businesses unable to keep pace with the demands ultimately doom.
If you plan to invest in China in an offshore production company or start your business from scratch you need to learn from the best examples so far. Just keep in the mind the cultural and logistical differences that differentiate the Chinese market from the rest of the world’s markets.
Using Digital Marketing
WeChat started as a platform for young foreign professionals called InternsInBeijing. Jeff Frey, a Swiss national and graduate from Tsinghua University was the mastermind behind it.
The reason why this app earned nickels right away is, China lives in the digital world, more than 95% audience is busy in mobile phones and placing orders for the next day. So is developing an app and working on it profitable? It is.
The sheer size of the economy of China can be scary for young entrepreneurs but you have the facility to access the audience and target the segmented market thanks to the digital world. KOLs are the real persona affecting the consumers and influencing them to buy the products. Key Opinion Leaders are not celebrities, in fact, they are the regular people with lots of followers, and usually, they are the bloggers, opinionated for their life theory. For instance, China’s Gen Z; Zhang Dayi and Becky Li are some of the top influencers. The KOLs buy the products, tell their friends and post reviews about them. It’s the latest digital marketing approach and gives direct access to a private audience too.
So if you have Key Opinion Leaders inside your pocket, then consider at least thousands of followers right away!
Adapt the Sales Pitch
Localization is effective for exclusive sales. Not only the content can be localized but also sales team can learn from the local values and pitch the audience the right way too. Understanding the core values of Chinese culture and consumer behavior can be of great help.
For successful sales, you need to provide specific information and keep the core values in mind. Like the use of colors or symbolized features for products and services is an effective tool.
Customers want a product that can solve a problem, their focus is not on the product’s quality. You can plan your sales pitch around this concept. It’s weird for a westerner to understand Chinese values the austerity and savings but this works in the favor of the company. You do not have to spend millions on a product’s quality; rather ensure it just fulfills its purpose.
Chinese are committed to the product not to the brand whereas the western consumer is more committed to the brand and if it fails to impress them, they switch to other available options. So it’s important to customize the sales pitch and to ensure you provide the information correctly. Therefore, you need to pay special attention to the Chinese language and culture.
Flow of Information
China is a country where having local partners is the best thing for a foreign brand. Despite a good translation and localization, you may not be able to reach the target audience as desired.
The reason is simple; you do not have access to the market. The local suppliers or partners are familiar with the market trends and it’s good to have a friendly person at hand to pitch sales. Businesses need to have friendly contact in the local and foreign markets.
Building trust in China is a process, it’s about the potential of the entrepreneur (what he brings to the table) and then a healthy relationship is built with the country. It also depends on the type of industry for instance; tech companies do not need several fancy dinners to come in contact with each other. They can collaborate their work analogy over a teleconference and such.
Tech companies are always in the rush, as competition is quite high in China, they don’t waste time thinking whether they will do partnerships or not. The social connections give them much-needed information so either you do the partnership immediately or you don’t, there’ no in-between.
Build a Strong Local Team
One cannot emphasize enough on how important local teams are. Every business will face ups and downs. If you fail as a brand that means you did something wrong. Localization can help you only so much. If you do not have a local team you won’t be able to reach the target audience perspective. Companies need to prepare for the long term, for this purpose you need to work on building a solid foundation in China.
Chinese translation services are just one side of a team, you need designers, editors, marketers, strategists, and project managers, etc., who have been working in the local market for a long time.