Your Chinese Consumers in Australia Are Your First Step

By David Mendoza

Chinese Australians are Very Important in Unlocking the Greater Chinese Market

The success of any marketing campaign lies in how well you understand your consumers. What do your target consumers look like? Age, location and gender. What are their dislikes? Their preferred communication method? Is it offline advertising, social media marketing, or a combination of both? The answers to these questions, and more, are critical because it isn’t a marketer’s job to market to everyone. And the success of your marketing efforts will depend on the depth of your consumer understanding and, ultimately, how much of your brand’s product or services you will sell. That is why it is vital to understand your consumers. And these principles remain true for any market, whether you are targetting an Australian or Chinese consumer. 

Firstly, using Australia’s beloved Bunnings Warehouse as an example of how misunderstanding your consumer can spell disaster. In 2018 Bunnings entered the UK market by acquiring an established British home improvement retail chain – a fairly safe move. A strategy destined to succeed soon fell apart when its management and marketing team chose to overlook their UK consumer research. The UK stores’ predominantly female consumer base was very different from the local Australian market. So what worked locally – the no-nonsense do-it-yourself bravado geared towards men – failed to resonate with its UK female demographic. A sure plan quickly fell apart because Bunnings chose not to understand their consumers, which cost them dearly. 

What is it about Chopsticks?

Another example, but one focusing on misunderstanding the Chinese consumer market, is Dolce and Gabbana. Successfully entering the Chinese market in 2006, disaster struck when, in 2018, its marketing team ran what many Chinese considered a racist tv ad. The videos feature a Chinese model attempting to eat pizza, spaghetti and cannoli. With Chinese folk music playing in the background, a Mandarin-speaking voiceover kicks in: “Welcome to the first episode of ‘Eating with Chopsticks’ by Dolce & Gabbana” — pronounced incorrectly on purpose in a way that mocks Chinese speech. The ads were an attempt at humour, but to its consumers, it was tasteless, racist, a national humiliation, and it was 伤害了中国人民的感情 (hurting the feelings of the Chinese people). However, understanding this phrase and why Chinese people were so offended and humiliated requires cultural, historical and Chinese marketing insights. These are qualities your internal marketing team may not have, but that is where a Chinese marketing agency like CHIN helps, so you don’t make the same mistakes as Dolce & Gabbana or Burger King New Zealand, for that matter. They made the identical faux pas and ran a tv ad in 2019 of customers attempting to eat a burger with chopsticks? 

How to go from 1.4 million to 1.4 billion Chinese

So what can Australian companies do to better position their brand for the local 1.4 million Chinese-Australian consumer market and from there to 1.4 billion Chinese? Firstly, don’t overlook your marketing fundamentals: perform your Chinese consumer research. Or, if you cannot perform your own research, then engage a Chinese marketing agency like CHIN to leverage its Chinese marketing insights. Secondly, understand that even though Chinese-Australians can speak and read English, their preferred language is always Chinese. Today Mandarin (Chinese) is the second-most spoken language in Australia. So ensure you have your marketing collateral in Chinese. A great starting point is having your website translated to Chinese, or at least a landing page. These two form the basics for building your Chinese marketing strategy: understand your Chinese consumer, and have a Chinese website. From then, you can work with your Chinese marketing agency to segment your local Chinese consumer and focus on determining your brand’s selling point compared to your competitors. If your competitors are not actively marketing to Chinese consumers, you are already one step ahead. And if they are, what sets your brand apart based on your consumer insights? Is it the quality, that it is Australian, or that your product is great value for money?

Choosing your Chinese Channels is Easy

Once you know your audience and selling points, you can determine which method, reach, or engagement will drive your Chinese marketing strategy. And with these parameters set, selecting the Chinese marketing channels to run your campaigns is easy. There are numerous options, WeChat, RED (小红书, pronounced Xiao Hong Shu), Yeeyi, Tmall, influencer marketing and others. If budget allows, you can run a multichannel strategy, with some focusing on brand awareness, others on engagement and the most important one, conversion of sales. Increasingly brands are turning to Key Opinion Consumers to help with conversions of sales due to their focus on proof of quality and the ability to send products to their followers. Also, influencer marketing is a great way to extend your marketing efforts as they find more creative ways to present your product to their audience that maybe you never thought of. Influencer marketing should not be overlooked, with 49% of Chinese consumers saying they depend on influencer recommendations (Rakuten Advertising). And 23% of Chinese consumers say that influencers give them a more favourable impression of brands (WARC). The proof is in the pudding, as here at CHIN, we have used these methods to sell out concerts for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, time and time again.

Your Great Insurance Policy

The great thing about having 1.4 million Chinese Australians is that they are your first step towards the greater Chinese market. It is the perfect testing ground to determine the performance of your Chinese marketing strategy. And once you have a working formula, be confident in taking your brand to mainland China. Your likelihood of success is greater all because of your experiences locally and your understanding of Chinese consumers. Lastly, the best way to avoid disaster – your insurance from the above examples, is to engage a trusted Chinese marketing agency, preferably one that has been around for 30-plus years, like CHIN


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