How to delight Chinese customers

As a Western brand marketing in China, one of the most fundamental questions you must ask yourself is how you can delight your Chinese customers in order to best engage with them.

For all too long, marketing has focused on customer satisfaction as the end goal. But ‘satisfaction’ should be the basic goal. By delighting a customer, you have the opportunity to create far richer engagement, greater conversions and a higher degree of loyalty.

But although ‘how do we delight Chinese customers?’ is the right question to ask, it’s essential to remember that China is a vast, complex and extremely differentiated market, and the attributes and trends that may define your Western audiences won’t necessarily map across to your Chinese target markets.

The importance of good Chinese market research

Good market research is the foundation of all targeting, positioning and overall marketing to the China market, but there are certain things you can learn in advance and bear in mind as you become more familiar with your Chinese customers. China is a blend of the ancient and the modern, it is a rapidly moving and evolving market and it’s a fascinating one too. Here are some things that every Western marketer should know when considering how to delight their Chinese customers.

Ways to delight Chinese customers

1. Show that you really understand your target audience

Over the years, many Western brands have made the mistake of trying to simply shoehorn their Western campaigns into Chinese markets. At best, these efforts simply have no benefits, but at worst they can be offensive. It’s essential to show understanding and respect to your Chinese target audience by researching their needs, wants and desires first, beyond basic demographics.

2. Be culturally aware

The Chinese culture is extremely contextual and driven by symbols, ideas, traditions and concepts that are largely unfamiliar in the West. For example, the Chinese festival calendar includes far more festivals than most Western nations celebrate. Colours, numbers and dates have different significances, and often contradict each other between East and West. For example, white is a symbol of purity and joy in the West, but is associated with death and mourning in China, and is considered unlucky.

3. Make things easy

Chinese customers are used to engaging with the most cutting-edge levels of technology and the types of apps, platforms, social media and websites that they are used to often far exceed comparable digital experiences in the West. Chinese customers are heavy smartphone users and they expect faultless user journeys, with familiar technologies such as Chinese social media platforms and payment processing software. As a Western brand, you can greatly enhance engagement, as well as your brand’s reputation, by making sure your digital assets are as smooth, seamless and trouble-free as possible.

The key to getting this right? Using a Chinese digital marketing agency that can optimise every element, from ensuring your Chinese characters load quickly and correctly and that your user journeys map Chinese reading patterns, to checking that your website is correctly hosted and in line with strict censorship protocols.

4. Integrate your digital assets

Similarly, it’s vital to ensure your digital assets – website, app, social feeds and so forth – are integrated into a single, clear and holistic digital ecosystem that allows your customers to easily move and switch between different forms of content and functionality.

5. Go the extra mile

Depending on their age, socio-economic grouping, location, income band and education, your Chinese customers will have certain demographics that are distinct. This allows you to delight them in meaningful ways. Some customers will love perks such as branded digital games, digital stickers, phone filters and other online gimmicks or competitions. Others will adore shareable, viral content, and other groups will be looking for benefits such as special edition product launches to tie in with festivals, personalisation or ‘freebies’ such as beautiful complimentary gift wrapping, miniature sizes and thoughtful extras.

Chinese customers are sophisticated and extremely able to find alternative products and services from competitors. Many are now seeking brands that are ethical, sustainable and have clear values that are in line with their own. This offers as many opportunities to Western brands as it does challenges. For example, Quality Western brands can leverage their heritage and luxury brand values to great effect in this market, as many Chinese customers have been stung by cheap counterfeit goods.

6. Show that you listen

Sophisticated Chinese customers want to feel heard – and responded to. So when you create social content, be sure to engage with it in a meaningful way. When you collect feedback, take the time to respond to it with either thanks or a commitment to improve and resolve any issues. This shows that you really value your customers and it can be a powerful strategy for building their trust and loyalty. As part of this, consider adding elements of automation for feedback collection, thank you notes and other touchpoints, and speed up your response times when it comes to providing human engagement.

7. Create the right content

Content is king in China, much like it is in the West. So poor translations or cheap dubbing will instantly turn off the very customers you want to attract. Either localise your content with the expert help of a Chinese marketing agency or take the time and investment to generate your own targeted, Chinese-language content that is truly designed to meet the needs of your Chinese customers. They will appreciate the consideration and respect.

8. Have values

Many of today’s Chinese customers are ethical consumers who are interested in shopping with brands that are environmental, sustainable and ethical. So be clear about your values and humanise your brand as much as possible by sharing the good things that you do, promoting your people and making your brand individual, personable and meaningful. This will attract and engage young, sophisticated Chinese customers with an international outlook.

Find out more

Keen to learn more about effectively delighting your Chinese customers? Market Me China can help you to get it right! Please contact our team for a chat about your needs, and to find out how we can help you to find success in this vast, challenging and extremely attractive growth market.