How can Western brands engage Chinese customers in the post-Covid world?

The Covid pandemic is now hopefully past its worst and the world’s economies are opening back up for business again – buoyed, in the case of China and the West, by pent-up demand and a keen desire amongst consumers to begin enjoying life again as far as possible, even whilst safety measures continue to remain in place for now.

For Western brands seeking to engage Chinese customers and gain loyal Chinese followers to their brand, now is the perfect time to focus on strategies to win hearts and minds. The Chinese economy has rebounded strongly and Chinese customers are extremely motivated (and able) to seek out new products, to try new brands and experiences and to treat themselves to the products and services that they desire. Across fashion, beauty, health and wellbeing, education, travel and more, Chinese customers are highly motivated to consume, and they have the income to indulge their tastes.

So as a Western brand what should you be doing to engage Chinese customers in this brave new Covid world? These ideas will get you started.

1. Get back to basics

If your digital ecosystem isn’t yet optimised and ready to meet the demands of this tech-native audience, then now is the time to really invest and upgrade your assets. Make sure your website is smooth, slick, designed for Chinese UX and works perfectly on smartphones. Make sure it is hosted correctly and has Chinese targeted content that really resonates with your end audience. In many cases, simply dubbing or subtitling Western content won’t work for this audience. Chinese customers expect to see branding, content and campaigns that have been designed with their unique needs, wants and preferences in mind. And if you aren’t confident yet with your Chinese cultural symbols and assets, now is the time to up your game!

2. Really know your customer

Do you have user personas for your Chinese customers? If not, develop them. In some cases, you may need to refresh them entirely, for the needs, wants, desires and characteristics of your target audience may have changed in the last 18 months +. Market research is a great investment now to really know your target customer – to better serve that group. think of it as a means of boosting your ROI and avoiding unsuccessful campaigns.

3. Consider your post-Covid messaging

If you have physical elements to your service – perhaps if you work in travel or education for example, or if you sell physical products to China, really promote your safe business practices to provide certainty and comfort in the post-Covid world. This is important, to show that you respect and value the safety of your customers and that you are still working to maintain the health and wellbeing of your loyal customer base.

4. Say thank you

You may have customers who stuck with you through Covid and you may have new customers who are prepared to try your brand. In all cases, now is a great time to say thank you and to show a goodwill gesture that makes customers feel good and encourages them to see your brand in a favourable light. This could be something as simple as a discount, a competition or a loyalty offer of some kind.

5. Have some fun

Equally, why not take a moment to remind your Chinese audience about the fun in life. Celebrate your values and promote your sense of fun by launching a competition that will resonate with your audience in China- perhaps using social media and a KOL relationship for example. You could launch a special product colour or attribute for your Chinese customers, or a special edition linked to a forthcoming holiday. Digital stickers, photos and other ‘sendables’ are also very popular. The more you can be quirky, innovative and memorable when you create integrated digital marketing campaigns in China, the more successful you will be – so consider all angles from social platforms and integrated e-commerce offers to KOL relationships, strategic brand partnerships, PPC and ePR for the best possible results.

6. Think ‘micro’

The more you get to know your Chinese audience and become adept with the vast number of Chinese digital marketing channels in existence, the more you can move away from mass marketing (which is highly expensive and often fails to hit the mark against bigger brands) and begin to create more meaningful, niche and personal relationships with smaller groups of – often highly profitable – customers. Use technologies such as data mining and analytics to help you create highly defined, nice and targeted groups which represent a strong potential profit margin for you, and then use digital and social media groups, influencer campaigns, personal messaging, tailored offers, micro-campaigns and other intriguing forms of content and pinpointed offers to really create something special and meaningful. You will find that this kind of in-depth experience encourages customers to become loyal and to refer you to their own networks too for a brand reputation that grows powerfully and organically on the strength of referrals and word of mouth – something that is extremely important in China, where people greatly value the advice of their friends and family.

7. Show your values

Again, in the post-Covid world, the younger generation in particular in China wants to support brands that have a strong set of values – and values that are in line with their own. With this in mind, work on creating a business and proposition that is environmentally friendly, that is ethical, sustainable and that has a strong set of positive values that support Chinese values and aspirations. Show your respect, warmth and affection for China and its people! And at the same time, play on the values that matter for Western brands in China – heritage, quality, history and authenticity for example.

8. Get help!

The Chinese market is huge, growing rapidly and is perhaps even more complex in the post-Covid world thanks to its increasing fragmentation of consumer groups and proliferation of brands in its evolving economy. By using the services of a Chinese marketing agency you can avoid the typical pitfalls and ensure your marketing budget goes on creating a measurable return – rather than on waste! Contact Market Me China to find out how we can help you to succeed in China and how to engage successfully with your target customers in the post-Covid world, to convert fans to loyal customers and to build a profitable business in this fascinating, growing and hugely enticing market.