Phil Mo
Aug 27, 2012

Five things marketers should know to break through Chinese-consumer clutter

Phil Mo, partner, Insights, at Mindshare China, identifies five vital points that brands need to know if they want to break through the cluttered market to reach those digital-savvy, better informed and more discerning consumers in China.

Phil Mo, partner, Insights, at Mindshare China
Phil Mo, partner, Insights, at Mindshare China

1. Think bottom-up

Previously, Chinese consumers were just like sheep who responded to being “talked down to.” However, with the advent of social media such as Weibo, masses are no longer inclined to be told what to do or think. 

Chinese consumers are starting to speak out, and their collective voices are beginning to influence brand marketing strategies.

Acknowledging this fact, Nike launched its 'Find your greatness' campaign, spreading 'greatness' as a concept not limited to superstars, but for us all. This campaign now stands as testimony to the paradigm shift in brands presently not only listening to ordinary people, but also embracing their values and tapping into the typical man-on-the-street as spokespeople as well.

2. Making comedy king

Born with silver spoons in their mouths, Gen-Y Chinese lead better lives than and have different perspectives from their counterparts born in the 1960s and 1970s. Typically restless and easily bored, everything needs to be ‘funny’ and ‘entertaining’ to capture and hold their attention.

Case-in-point, a recent test-run for a gaming-application we conducted revealed Gen-Y gamers to lose interest within a mere three minutes, proving it vital for brands to capture the hearts of these time-poor consumers from the get-go.

3. Give attention to attention-seekers

Past trends saw marketers seeking their audience’s attention, persuading them to buy into their products and services. Nowadays, garnering attention is no longer exclusive to marketers.

Young Chinese consumers are now vying for other people’s attention on social-media sites, and hope they “follow” or “like” them on Weibo, and “求关注” (notice me!) has now become a popular trend. So brands should be sure to stroke their egos via social media.

4. The great paradigm shift from conformity to individualization

The Middle Kingdom has a rich history stemming 5000 years. However, through the country’s trials, tribulations, sociopolitical, socioeconomic changes, the typical “conformist mentality” no longer stands.

New-age Chinese consumers would rather stand out than fit in, and this consumer-behavior evolution has resulted in brands abandoning ‘one-fits-all’ products, focusing instead on providing consumers with a variety of products catered to satisfy specific needs.

Take the China male skincare market evolution, for instance. Previously only providing sunblock-like products, the category now offers products that range from moisturisers to whitening creams.

5. One-world to one-China

The traditional “tiering mentality” no longer exists in this digital and ever-evolving Chinese landscape. Consumers from lower-tier cities in China aren’t looking at trends trickling slowly through geographical borders anymore. Instead, typical Chinese consumers look at trends from around the world (London, New York, Tokyo and Seoul) and adapt to them directly. 

Lower-tiered consumers can get all their information online, and a recent study we conducted found Tier 4 people to be up-to-date with the latest fashion trends—and even starting to become trend-setters themselves.

Campaign China

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