Taking The Tiger By The Tail: How to reach the Chinese consumer in today’s multi-channel marketplace

Part 2

Icon, one of Australia’s leading integrated communications agencies, yesterday launched Icon China, a new Chinese-focussed capability. The offering is in partnership with Strategic Public Relations Group (SPRG), Asia’s largest independent PR agency.

With China set to become Australia’s top international tourist market and with commerce between Australia and China increasing exponentially over the past decade, with Australia exporting more than $90billion of goods and services to China every year — Icon PR identified the growing need for seamless cross-border services that are essential for Chinese companies wanting to thrive in Australia, and Australian companies seeking to enter the Chinese market.

Taking place at the Australia Chinese Business Council (ACBC) in Melbourne, the official launch was part of a special presentation and panel discussion led by Joanne Painter, General Manager Director of Icon, and Shufen Tan, General Manager at SPRG. Taking The Tiger By The Tail: How to reach the Chinese consumer in today’s multi-channel marketplace provided valuable knowledge on how multi-channel marketing and PR can bridge cultures and build business.

Shufen provided insight into the complex Chinese media landscape — surprisingly, even for a Communist country, commercial media enjoys relative freedom.

The Chinese iConsumer, and how digital is now leading the charge when it comes to how the Chinese consume news. Here’s a snapshot of the country’s key digital statistical indicators:

  • China has a population of 1,379 billion
  • Of this, 680 million are active internet users
  • 653 million are active social media users
  • 577 million are active mobile social users

In comparison to Australia:

  • Australia has a population of 24 million
  • Of this, 21.2 million are active internet users
  • 14 million are active social media users
  • 13 million are active mobile social users

With 99% of the population owning a mobile phone holding social apps such as WeChat, Weibo, QQ Messenger, QZone and Baidu Tieba, Chinese consumers rely heavily on social media to discover and research brands. Any brand that wants to make a positive impact needs to understand the specific social media channels in China to leverage business and brands. After all — by 2017 it’s predicted that there will be 745 million Chinese mobile netizens — a tremendous opportunity for eCommerce businesses.

Highlighting Jessica Rudd as an Australian entrepreneur who has been successful in cracking the Chinese market with her retail eCommerce store, Jessica’s Suitcase; Shufen said part of this was down to how Jessica had moved to Beijing and immersed herself in the culture plus leveraging Australia’s ‘clean and green’ image, which appeals to the Chinese consumer.

Joanne Painter engaged the ACBC with her presentation on how best to reach Chinese consumer in a multichannel marketplace. Joanne highlighted the cross-border opportunities driven by eCommerce between Australia and China, supported with the following stats and insights:

  • China’s eCommerce sector will surpass RMB 6.5 trillion by December 2016
  • Research by Google shows that Chinese consumers are shifting to international eCommerce platforms to access attractive offers, products, and higher quality services Demand for Australian food beverage and health products is at an all-time-high among Chinese online shoppers
  • China has now surpassed the USA as Australia’s #1 foreign investor in property splashing out $24billion in 2014/2015 — and rising
  • Tourism and leisure generated $8.3billion in total expenditure for 2015 — up 40%
  • In 2016, 50,000 Chinese students started courses in Australian universities, colleges and schools, a 23% increase on 2015 making students from China more important than ever to the booming education export industry

Communication with the Chinese market is not just about literally translating language; it is about culture and understanding. Market entry strategies are now multi-cultural and multi-faceted, and building cultural intelligence is key — having a high quality, trusted advisor is paramount. With Chinese consumers — in both Australia and China — understanding the varied social media platforms is of paramount importance, as the Chinese online world is an increasingly influential driver of consumer behaviour.

An essential element of cross-border marketing and sales is how a company approaches PR, and in particular the communications skills of Icon’s new offering, Icon China. Chinese consumers are continuously online, but what works in Australia often backfires in China (and vice versa). Staying culturally relevant and focussing on consumer-centric strategies is fundamental to a successful market entry strategy.

A panel discussion with Mr Steven Foo, Head of Asia Business Development in Australia Post’s Parcels Services business and Mr George Wang, CEO of GOME Australia joining Shufen and Joanne attracted provided expert advice and insight.

Icon China offer culturally attuned communications, with a trilingual team that uses its expertise in pubic relations digital and creative services to provide the essential cross-border capabilities required for Chinese companies wanting to thrive in Australia and Australian companies seeking to enter the Chinese market with best-in-class partners on the ground.


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