Guest post by Courtney Gordner
Households around the world have certain basic needs in common. They need food, shelter and a sense of security. They often enjoy common bonds with those closest to them who share that household. However, there are also certain differences that arise based on culture and experiences. This is why when one is marketing products to families in other countries, they should take careful consideration of the societal norms of how family members interact and how each family member’s role is viewed within the wider culture.
In American advertisements, it’s not uncommon for persons to be treated according to certain traditional stereotypes. Father may be seen as the “loveable buffoon” and mother may, even in the 21st century, enjoy nothing more than coming home or staying home to cook and clean. Kids are always seen as wiser than their parents, especially in matters of modern technology. Now, imagine attempting to market these stereotypes outside the United States. Can you see persons becoming quickly offended?
In China, there are certain codes of behavior that one should abide by when trying to market to individuals. This is also true when attempting to market products to families. The Chinese believe very strongly in saving face, and certain derogatory ads, while not meant to be offensive, can seem like a personal injury. Here are some things to remember when attempting to attract Chinese families through advertising.
Get Your Business Online
The Chinese consumer base is largely a digital one these days. In fact, China is expected to become the largest e-commerce market in the world in just a few short years. Since many Chinese households do their buying online, you’re more likely to reach them if your product can be purchased on the Internet. But it’s not enough to simply build a website and expect Chinese consumers to find you. Social-networking sites are important for locating and advertising to different consumers. Try and make your brand more visible by having accounts on multiple social-networking sites. Create Chinese holiday-specific sales drives and encourage consumer participation.
Don’t Emphasize How Cheap You Are
As mentioned before, there are certain codes of behavior to keep in mind when dealing with Chinese households. Certain means of advertising may work with non-Chinese customers that would be disastrous if applied in China. In America, people tend to form loyalties to brands and seek the lowest price. In China, it’s the opposite. As it turns out, Chinese customers rarely form attachments to certain brands. They want what’s new and expensive. Price is even more important than quality much of the time. Instead of emphasizing cheapness and expectations of customer loyalty, it may be better to focus on an image of being cutting-edge and exclusive.
Customers Aren’t Trying to be Western
This is a big one and it’s one you absolutely must remember. The rising affluence of Chinese consumers is paired with a unique nationalism that is nurtured by a very watchful government. Do not come at them with an attitude that emphasizes Western brands and behavior as right or superior or assume that they want to emulate them for this reason. Not only will you likely turn off Chinese consumers, but there’s also a chance that you can invoke a government-led backlash and find your business booted out of the country! Chinese customers want to be Chinese and they want to feel pride in who they are. Remember and respect that and it can allow your business to go far in China.