How to Develop a Brand in China
Not too long ago was it that there were only few “global” brands. But now the barriers to international trade have lowered, and more and more small and medium-sized businesses can see “compete on an international scale” as a realistic goal – and achieve international success. So, you want your business to become “international” and serve the Chinese market? First, you will need to know how to develop a brand in China before entering the market, as Chinese consumers are likely to be quite different to other consumers you are already serving. These 8 tips to develop a Brand in China will help you gain the knowledge of developing your brand to suit the Chinese market in order to compete successfully.
- Research, Research, Research
“Research” not only refers to reading articles online, or books and journals, but also visiting your prospective markets. Gaining tacit knowledge about the market you wish to serve will prove to be a huge benefit to your company and its expansion. Is there demand for your product? Are there any competitors already serving the market? If not, why? What are the market trends specific to your area? What makes your brand any different to the others already there (from the perspective of your potential customers)? What are the packaging requirements for your product/s in China? And then, how to develop a Brand in China?
- Localise Your Brand for China
Why would you need to rebrand for the Chinese market? Because you need to localise and adapt to Chinese culture. Without being culturally sensitive to the Chinese market you intend to serve, your brand could suffer because of significant cultural differences. In choosing a Chinese name, do not trust online translators – you do not want to be picking a nice sounding name based on translation websites without knowing the multiple interpretations the potential name may have behind it. Meet with Chinese locals to help with choosing an appropriate Chinese name for your brand.
- Choose a Partner
It is essential to partner with a Chinese firm when building your business and looking to develop a Brand in China. Most often, companies will find a local Chinese company that is roughly the same size as their own, with established connections in the country and can assist in navigating complex regulations, legal processes, and deal with the Chinese government directly. It is important to research your potential partner companies, as partnering does pose some risks such as intellectual property theft. Furthermore, choosing a partner with a good history in China is equally important – partnering with a company that may not have a “clean” history could prove detrimental to your brand’s image.
- Market Your Brand Appropriately
When marketing your brand in China, ensure you are culturally sensitive to the consumers you want to reach. You need to understand and relate to your consumers – Chinese consumers don’t often go to beaches or see yachts, so don’t market your products with a Chinese couple relaxing on a yacht. Additionally, many international brands share different brand identities across different countries and cultures. China is a country where many “average quality” western companies (from the perspective of western consumers) are perceived as “premium” and even “luxury” brands by Chinese consumers – which may provide further opportunities for your brand to take advantage of in terms of potential markets when looking to develop a Brand in China.
- Create a Social Media Presence in China to develop a Brand in China
Chinese consumers are increasingly using social media to share their experiences of products with others, and are active in using social media to assist them with making decisions for their own purchases. Do not be ignorant in the use of western social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, but instead focus on using WeChat and Sina Weibo. Chinese social media sites dominate the social media industry in China by a long shot. A social media presence can greatly affect and help you to develop of a brand in China.
- Live Up to Expectations
In developing a brand in China, it is of crucial importance that you live up to the expectations you give Chinese consumers. Every market in China already has developed competition with local and often international companies, so you have to have a consistent message and consistent product quality. Because something new is always around the corner in Chinese markets, you need to differentiate your product/s and continuously meet expectations in order to build brand loyalty a develop a Brand in China in a long term vision.
- Know Your Customer
China is not one single market with over 1billion potential customers. You should think of China as many individual markets, split up by cities and regions, in order to develop your brand most effectively. There are huge disparities between different regions in terms of income and consumer preferences. Whilst there are the general universal factors of living up to expectations, providing good value for money, and giving a product that says something about the end user, there are also important differences in these markets. Do you want to be serving consumers in industrialised places? Will your products be available to consumers in who live in continental climates or tropical south? Can your brand serve multiple markets?
- Stay for the Long Run
You need to keep in mind that China is still a developing country, and this means “worthwhile” returns may take a while to receive – but will be well-worth it in the end. With China’s rapidly growing economy, businesses can take advantage of a vast array of opportunities if they focus on the uniqueness of their brand’s products, and develop a sound marketing strategy before any goal to develop a Brand in China.
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