After a successful promo event in the city of Shenyang, the north of China. The German brand Coco&Ray is on its way up.
As a foreigner business owner in China, Barbara Freeman, founder, and designer of Coco&Ray reached out to me looking for solutions to make her brand more visible in the Chinese market.
During my first approach, I sensed a glimpse of frustration because it has been a challenge to maintaining the brand and sales steadily in the local market.
Her case is not isolated, it is a common complaint of small business owners or entrepreneurs who have come to China for a new beginning. Regardless, if it is an expansion, a new branch, a new business, or even a project, foreigners complain about the same difficulty to introduce their western services or brands in China.
Even for myself and my brand, there have been tens of trials, jumping from small meetings to big meetings, discussions, and presentations. At last, the Chinese market has always been a challenge. However, Ophra Winfrey says, there is no such thing as failure. It is another way for us to walk around the path and reach either the same goal or one even better. I take that as my motto and business philosophy. Moreover, after a few years of persistence, I can happily say my services are expanding and growing.
Ultimately, I have the answer to address this specific challenge. It is the result of certain elements such as my passion for marketing, plus the study of the markets' behavior, and the experience with my path and my clients'.
China is such a populous country with a variety of local brands offering every kind of products and services to a whole spectrum of a picky and diverse demand. Thus, this may scare many westerners because it may sound that their small foreign brands are hopeless. However, the reality is that there are tons of opportunities in China. You must need strategic and persistent.
For example; one right way to be seen and gain more market share is by making noise. I highlight NOISE but not a disturbing noise. This here is what makes the difference. Some Chinese brands are annoyingly noisy. You may want to be loud but attractive.
How to introduce a western brand in China?
Before listing down the steps, I must warn you, current or future business owner, you may require tons of patience, creativity, Chinese language lessons, waiting hours, and a reliable Chinese interpreter.
1. The first step is to find a reliable and trustworthy Chinese assistant and interpreter. Note; I’ve added the words “reliable and trustworthy” more than once. Even if you are a knowledgeable and skillful about the language and culture, you may know that there is a big gap between “Like” and “Trust” in Chinese potential partners or customers. Their nature is to be skeptical. Moreover, they will study, observe, and even ask around about your background, experience and profile. Attending their meetings with a local companion will invite the prospects to feel more comfortable and relaxed.
2. Expose yourself in local events, hangouts, networking, and even casual meetups. The purpose is to collect as many business cards as possible. You may be thinking “That won’t work because everything is written in Chinese?” (if you don’t understand their language) That is when your reliable Chinese interpreter/assistant comes along. You may want to follow-up with the prospects through chat, texts, and email.
3. You may have heard that business is like dating. You may want to hang out with the prospects more often. Text them, and invite them to your office, different meals, and even western traditional parties. Just like you do when you are in the first stage of dating. You won’t be able to gain Chinese customers from the comfort of your western corner.
4. After, having a good number of local “friends” who fall in the type of customer your business requires then it is time to use your PR skills. Ask for connections who may be well known locally, stream video makers, TV host or other types of influencers. Some of your new friends may be helpful if they are somehow connected with authorities in the government or public organizations.
Keep in mind this process requires 3-6 months and it is best if you allow that range of time so the relationships are mature and there is the first taste of trust both sides need before deciding to collaborate or not.
5. While you are busy with the PR job, let your team work on an opening event or promo event. You will put together all your new connections and by offering a win-win collaboration, expect to have free venues or low-cost venues as well as F&B. The key to success is to connect with TV hosts, famous faces, and a streaming video. This new generation of communication and media is about the quality of referrals and network you have. Showing off your famous friends will definitely increase fans and potential consumers.
6. Announce your promo event on Chinese platforms and offer free giveaways for the viewers and followers before, during, and after the promo event.
7. At the day of the event, have a streaming video, a couple of influencers, and the TV host be the main course of it. The purpose of this is “making noise” but pleasant noise. Bring along a couple of great photographers who will be able to capture their smiles, joy, and fun.
8. At last, the step after the event is the follow-up. Use your best ideas for a pleasant souvenir. It could be a beautiful photo of them in a branded portrait. You can mail them and invite them to have the first and fresh product of yours as their VIP consumers.
At last, do not panic!
For these and other steps to introduce your products to the China markets, contact us. We take ownership and will help you bring your brand to the next level in China.