The 4 biggest mistakes Western brands make when entering China

branding in China
Getting it right in China.

Our good friends at Adsmith China have put together a list of the four most important things for Western brands to consider when entering the Chinese market. For all but the most informed brands, China is a market with great promise, but even greater challenges to getting it right. We recommend a combination of learning what it takes and partnering with local brand experts.

01. Messaging

You will need to localize your content, which includes your brand name, brand messaging and tonality to be compatible with the Chinese language. Direct translations will almost never work. Without proper translation, and testing of that translation, you run a high risk of confusing or offending potential customers.

02. Population

China’s population is massive, nearing 1.4 billion in fact. If your messaging is still trying to target mid-level businessmen in the steel industry, your marketing department will soon be overwhelmed. You won’t find your target audience without proper brand position, and visa versa.

03. Social Media

China’s most popular social media channel, WeChat, is a walled garden. Users cannot search for brands using hashtags or keywords. Brands have to infiltrate the WeChat system through QR code

sharing and by providing useful, relatable content. Social media, including WeChat, is a place to share your brand story and make people feel connected to your brand. If you do not have a brand story that people can connect with, your fan base cannot grow.

04. SEO

Have you optimized your keywords and messaging for Google? You can throw all that out window before boarding the plane to China. Baidu uses different algorithms and paid search options. You’ll need to know your brand messaging to optimize your keywords and website for Baidu, or else no one will be able to find you online.

And a valuable China Marketing Checklist for brands:
Do you have:
• A Chinese name?
• A team, including local and foreign staff, based in China?
• Marketing collateral in Chinese?
• A website that works behind the Great Firewall?
• Chinese social media accounts?
• Messaging that resonates with your target audience in China?
Pic courtesy Adidas #thisisme campaign
Adsmith China are a strategic marketing & communications agency located in Shanghai that helps brands succeed in China.





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