Wilson Yao, CEO at Allyes Group, has witnessed first-hand the evolution of marketing in China from a narrowly-focused sector to a nuanced, diverse, experimental landscape. With a growing middle class and technology advancing at breakneck speed, this transition was bound to happen, and it has attracted new business from across the globe. “There’s no doubt China’s marketing industry has enormous potential”, says Yao, “but brands and agencies looking to enter the market need to consider two key points, regional consumption differences and intergenerational cultural differences.”
In a market as large as China, accounting for local differences is paramount. Crafting campaigns around the trends of major cities doesn’t bode well for other locales, “When it comes to mobile users in first-tier cities, much of the popular content they’re attracted to doesn’t resonate in lower-tier markets,” says Yao. This contrast challenges the core of what many new to the Chinese market might envision as appealing. As Yao points out, generational gaps also need to be accounted for, as older consumers in China have many different media habits and values than, for example, millennials.
Over the last few years, Allyes has aided many brands in understanding and speaking to distinct clusters of Chinese consumers. DMI, the company’s proprietary marketing platform, is a functional answer to many of the issues brands are facing, like adapting to the technical specifications set forth by Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, and adjusting to in-depth consumer needs in real-time.
Yao explains, “The data structure of DMI is an emerging ‘flow’ structure, rather than the traditional ‘library’ structure.” User data within the platform doesn’t sit static on a dashboard, but is instead indexed by what the company terms “social ID”, real-time status that ebbs and flows with consumer activity, and allows for meaningful, timely communications. Yao sees this “intensity of user relationships” as crucial moving forward. “If you want to make an impact, you need to sustain relatively stable and friendly social relationships with targeted users. Your frequency of interaction is key.”
Marketing technology and its implications on productivity have also been on the company’s radar for the last two or three years, and DMI’s capabilities represent a shift to a more utilitarian way of reaching out to new audiences. “More advertisers are concerned about the overall efficiency of marketing,” says Yao, “they’re realising the necessity and value of ‘efficient conversion’, tilting their focus and their resources towards technology.”
A testament to Allyes’ vision and methodology, 2017 saw the company land in China’s Golden Mouse top ten digital marketing agencies, and in the IMCC Golden Awards top five digital marketing agencies. Yao weighs in on the accolades. “These honours are quite important to us. For one, they represent recognition by our industry and our customers, but they also represent an affirmation of our philosophy.”