China’s e-commerce boom part IV: Creating a buzz overseas

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

China's ecommerce is creating a buzz

Related tags Chinese consumers Retailing

Mintel revealed in a recent blog how "online shopping for imported products lacks the excitement of shopping when travelling overseas", so we asked Matthew Crabbe, Director of Research, Asia-Pacific at Mintel, how companies can get Chinese consumers on-brand.  

“Simply offering a new product is no longer enough,”​ stated Matthew Crabbe, Director of Research, Asia-Pacific at Mintel.

Immersive culture

Brands are having to come up with new and ingenious ways to fully understand the Chinese market, have a strong presence and entice consumers away from competitors while instead, remaining loyal to them and their products.

Primarily, Chinese consumers opt for overseas brands that they associate with and engage fully via virtual or physical promotions.

Even if consumers have not personally visited the particular country, foreign brands are finding innovative ways to generate excitement and build support in China.

Going viral

“Online videos that show the people, places and customs of the country where the product comes from, gives Chinese consumers a sense of excitement about the product or brand,”​ said Crabbe.

Beauty names are investing in new trends and tools such as virtual reality to develop their impact through video and better immerse consumers in the particular country of product origin.

Brands are enabling viewers to engage with the content, products and, therefore, brand through allowing them to click on links within the videos to “find out more”.

The use of digital video helps consumers identify with the place and its culture, to gain an idea of why the product or brand is particular to that destination.

It also indicates “what the unique qualities of the product or brand are that is imbued with the local culture, like the quality of craftsmanship, long heritage, special local ingredients or specialist skill sets, for example”,​ added Crabbe.

Advanced strategies

Future marketing strategies should clearly focus on building personalisation and exclusiveness into communication efforts to create ongoing engagement that drives purchasing.

Typical other promotion methods include creating unique gifts sets, setting up competitions with a chance to win a trip to the brand or product’s source country, virtual promotions and providing free samples in-store or to the customer’s door.

Fully social

Market research company, Mintel, also notes the importance of social media as a tool to build brand engagement with consumers.

For names to become big on social media and have a strong and loyal following, they must share timely and relevant updates on their channels, consistently respond to queries online and develop a social community around the brand.

Although social media marketing supports cross-border e-commerce retailing, Crabbe emphasised that it is crucial that “foreign brands are active in China’s retail environment, and not simply selling remotely from overseas”.

For this understanding of Chinese consumer trends and demands to be genuine and up to date, brands must, therefore, experience first hand how both physical and online retailers in China engage with consumers.

Generating excitement

Cutting-edge advertising should feature highly on the list of priorities for beauty brands’ strategies, as 34% of those asked said that they are excited by e-commerce stores that focus on innovative marketing.

Practical solutions, also, should not be overlooked: “Offering better delivery, refund and returns options is a key area where overseas online retail websites can improve, as compared to domestic websites.”

Although logistical issues can be a resulting problem, links to domestic online retail portals can help to overcome this.

“When selling foreign products online to Chinese consumers, brands and retailers really need to create a sense of excitement and entertainment about the whole process if they are to stand out in an increasingly competitive market,”​ Crabbe concluded.

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