Customer or brand loyalty is considered to be the bread and butter of what keeps business alive especially when marketing to China. Thanks to the digital era, a brand’s reputation has never been more important and when considering how to convert a potential audience into loyal customers, you need to first determine how you want to connect with them. The mindset of the Chinese consumer seems to change faster than in other markets, and maintaining brand loyalty for many Western brands is not simple because it is not a deep-rooted characteristic of Chinese culture, as some may presume.
Chinese consumers are empowered by rising disposable incomes and have become increasingly savvy. They expect more in terms of customer service and product quality. Brands can no longer rely on price and availability to secure loyalty. In order to fully appreciate how to deliver quality products and services to Chinese consumers, it’s important to understand the complex dynamics that shape their purchasing behavior. A seamless and personal dialogue with potential customers is a necessity for creating an emotional connection and building brand loyalty. Here are some fundamental requirements for building and maintaining Chinese customer loyalty with your business.
Understand the Chinese Consumer
Understanding the differences in Chinese consumer behavior and developing an understanding of China’s online ecosystem are vital for effectively marketing in China and engaging with Chinese consumers. The main consumer population in China is made up of people in their late 20s and early 30s. They are usually more educated and spend more on entertainment and participate more in online shopping. They tend to rank value and quality over low prices.
A privileged generation known as, Gen Z, is shaped by China’s remarkable economic growth of the last two decades. Born after 1995, they have a greater sense of individual identity and are the first Chinese generation to be born in a fully mobile, fully digitized country. They are highly connected and willing to share their feelings through social media and many have a well-informed view of the world.
Define your Target Audience
To effectively target Chinese consumers, your brand needs to be localized for the market. You need to have a strong understanding of the cultural roots, values, and traditions to build trust among your customers. In other words, your marketing campaign needs to have a strong level of sensitivity to Chinese culture and your product needs to meet the demands of the Chinese consumer.
Adapting your marketing strategy also means creating relevant and relatable content that is memorable. A great tactic to ensure your brand establishes cultural relevancy is to promote content that aligns with the holidays celebrated by your target audience or even hosting a simple topic that is relevant to your audience.
Build and Maintain Brand Credibility
Word-of-mouth is an essential tool for building loyalty and expanding your brand reputation in China. 60% of Chinese consumers say friends and family members are a major source of product information, which they use to make purchase decisions. Opinions from other consumers are way more important than ever before in regards to influencing Chinese purchasing behavior. When Chinese consumers buy online, they value the reviews and comments of other shoppers’ opinions more than Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs).
It’s essential for your brand to pay attention to credibility and product reputation in order to maintain a positive image among consumers. The personalization of products and services and the customer journey itself has become a norm for Chinese consumers. They want personalized products to make themselves look different and unique. When defining your brand, it’s important to consider adding distinctive products and services which meets the unique demand of your audience.
Create a Loyalty Program
Having a loyalty program is a very effective method to keep a competitive advantage and build a deeper connection with your audience. 89% of Chinese consumers say loyalty programs increase their spending. By creating a digital platform that allows customers to interact with your brand will provide Chinese consumers a much better shopping experience and an opportunity for your brand to attract new customers. In order to secure loyalty, it’s important to examine exclusive rewards and in-store experiences that are uniquely based on location or brand positioning and make it engaging and fun to participate for your target audience. Transparency practices earn customer trust and Chinese consumers increasingly focus more on product authenticity and safety.
Take Advantage of Retail Channels
China has over 300 million consumers shopping online for foreign goods using Chinese sites such as Tmall, JD, and TaoBao. Mobile payment systems like WeChat Wallet and Alipay make online shopping easy and it’s become a lifestyle for many Chinese consumers that are eager to tap the checkout button. There are also many innovative shops that are giving a completely immersive entertaining shopping experience driven by the integration of online to offline (O2O) campaigns. It is extremely important for your brand to stay informed on the latest shopping trends and build smart strategies to enhance your retail experience whether it is online or offline. Designing retail strategies that fit your target user’s needs and preferences can make a huge difference when trying to convert a first time user to a loyal costumer.
Engage via Social CRM
Social CRM is allowing brands and consumers to interact with each other via social media through the rapid shift from traditional forms of marketing. It enables the use of social media to engage with customers in a closely guarded and managed community. The data provided by Social CRM is vital for brands that want to convert potential customers to loyal ones. Due to Social CRM data, your brand can create customized content and move the costumer through a seamless purchasing process thus strengthening the overall relationship with the customer. The more data that is collected the more consumers your brand can acquire.
The continuous change in the preferences and shopping habits of Chinese buyers is something that you will definitely have to keep track of for maintaining the best brand loyalty. Ultimately, launching a unique and culturally sensitive campaign focused on the values of your target audience will not only increase customer engagement, but also resonate and present opportunities to interact with them in unique ways that will build a strong relationship and solidify their loyalty to your brand.