How To Do Marketing For Cross-Border E-Commerce Business In China
In the Chinese shopping culture, there are many numbers of special occasions for promotions and discounted sales, and this factor is extraordinarily crucial for start-up brands to participate to submerge into the CBEC market. Sales are more likely to peak during these occasions for sales performance. Aside from participating in the promotional periods, regular brand marketing is also necessary for brand growth and awareness to build group of consistent followers and fan base for the business or brand.
In this last chapter, after understanding the researching, planning and set up procedure to enter the CBEC market in China, the chapter will discuss how to do marketing for success.
Holidays and Occasions in China
There are numerous occasions possible for promotions, however, the key is not to fully participate in all promotional periods at all time, but selecting the suitable periods based on brand philosophy and image.
New Years – January 1
Public holidays in China and shopping malls tend to do sales and promotion near this time
Chinese New Year – In February (1-15 days of lunar month)
This is the most important occasion for people of China, people typically have 15 days off for family gatherings with traditional activities.
Valentine’s Day – February 14
An international celebration of love for one to another
Women’s Day – March 8
An appreciation day for women in China, female tend to receive half a day off; many CBEC brands do promotions this time
White Day – March 14
An occasion designated after valentines to return affection
Qingming Festival – In April 4 or 5
Also called tomb-sweeping day, it is the day of the year to visit and worship the ancestors
Children’s Day – June 1
A day to celebrate the love for children, CBEC platforms also do promotions around this period of the year themed around children goods.
Dragon Boat Festival – June
A traditional festival to celebrate the traditions of dragon boat, there are often outdoor activities and showing for the traditions.
Labor Day – May 1 (3 day)
Celebrate the appreciation for hardworking effort for all people, this is a peak time for travel as well.
Qixi Festival – August
A day in the year to celebrate the annual meeting of cowherd and weaver girl in the Chinese mythology. This day can be deemed as the Chinese valentine’s day.
Mid-Autum Festival – September
This period of the year is a period to celebrate family and reunion, often celebrated by eating moon cakes, lanterns, and glutinous sesame balls.
National Day – October 1
Chinese people usually have a week off during this period, and many take this period off to travel
Double 11 – November 11
The largest promotion sale of the year, similar to black Friday in western cultures
Double 12 – December 12
A follow-up to double-11, similar idea as cyber Monday
Christmas – December 25
Some of the special occasions are based on the lunar calendar, which varies from year to year. Thus, it’s recommended to research into each suitable occasion annually.
Aside from selecting the suitable dates for the brand, consider the entire procedure of the chain. For example, logistics may become slower or be put on hold near the Chinese New Year period as many of the employees are off.
Double-11 and Double-12 on the other hand are national promotional period for all brands disregarding the brand image. Nearly all brands on Taobao, TMall, JD Worldwide or more consider this promotional period to be the priority out of all other dates. There is a large bulk of products that are discounted during this period. This date is closely similar to Black Friday in the western culture.
Also consider the anniversaries of each platform the brands and business may be on, such as TMall, many brands also do promotions during that period of time to celebrate with the platform.
An ICP (Internet Content Provider) license is a necessary product for businesses wanting to do branding or direct sales through an official webpage. By the law of telecommunications regulations of the people’s republic of China, all websites operating within China are required to have an ICP license, and this license number is typically at the bottom of the many webpages hosted in China. If the webpage is lacking the license, the internet providers in China will block the site if not obtained by the end of a grace period.
Due to the differences between culture, environment, lifestyle and such, the consumers in China is far different in terms of shopping. In the western culture, in order to buy a product, potential consumers may first discover the potential product on YouTube, telecommunications, or from other friends, latter source to search engines for information and reviews. And this is where the culture diverges, the consumers in China source many potential purchases from social media and friends, such as Weibo, WeChat, Xiaohongshu, Douyin and more. Thus, the market for paid social and KOL marketing is much larger for CBEC than search engines.
Depending on the category of goods the business sells, there may or may not be a specific social media app designated for that group of audience. For instance, Xiaohongshu is a popular app targeted for young women interested in beauty, health and trends. Creating advertisements on this app would be deemed more successful for products widely used by women, businesses can search for a suitable KOL and conduct media buy to produce an amount of UGC (user-generated content) to boost the awareness of the product. Once again, there are different platforms available to different target audiences and brand type, finding a suitable KOL is critical to the success of marketing campaigns.
Unlike in the western countries, Facebook and Instagram ads provide a certain targeting system to businesses to efficiently utilize the budget. However, social media platforms such as Weibo have fully optimized their target-advertising system to reach specific group of audience, thus KOL is more widely used than paid social in China. This is not to say good results is difficult to achieve with paid social, however, the results may not be as well as KOL marketing.
WeChat is one of the most popular social-communication app used in China with over one billion active users per month. WeChat have launched a new type of accounts for business called “WeChat Official Account (WOA)”. This type of account provides businesses and brands with new opportunities for branding and higher quality customer services. Prior to the launch of WOA, small businesses would use personal account as a branding tool and customer service tool. However, the benefits of WOA override the personal account for business purposes, and to find out how WeChat can assist in branding and marketing, click here.
Nearly all CBEC platform have a live built-in customer service system designed for business customer service teams. Unlike in western countries, where e-commerce platform lack live customer service online, often requiring the action to call or email, live chats are available in a great number of platforms in China. And live-chat support in China is often available 7 days a week for 16 hours a day, as the demands for quality and personalized services is higher. Live support in CBEC platforms also allow businesses to set up automated answers, such as order status, coupon, or new releases, this can be fully customized. However, concerns beyond the automated questions are directed to customer service team. The critical point here is to not underestimate the importance of a high-quality customer/sales team on these live-support, because often times, the quality of the team can greatly affect the conversion number of a lead to a customer based on the services provided to the consumers.
To target the Chinese audiences, convenience is another important factor, especially in China, which is why there are Alipay, Tenpay (WeChat pay), union pay and such. In China, nearly all purchases are completed on mobile devices, and consumers rarely bring a wallet because the popularization of mobile payments. In western countries, apple pay, and android pay may only have begun rising to the occasions in the last two to three years. However, in China, the technology for mobile payment have been developed for over decade. In order to make the business readily available and accessible to the consumers in China, ensure the payment solution meets the demands of consumers.
It is highly recommended to begin set up for payment solutions, then the search for an excellent service team to fulfill the customer experience. Once the two important factor is fulfilled, it is encouraged to engage in annual and semi-annual meeting to meet all marketing needs for different times in the year to help brand growth.