The 7 Golden Rules for Marketing to Chinese tourists in Australia

A growing tourism market with rich potential.

There’s never been a better time to dust off your Mandarin textbook and shake the dust off of your Chinese New Year Dragon, because the number of Chinese visitors to Australia continues to grow rapidly and opportunities abound.

The lower dollar, combined with a rising Chinese middle class, means that those infant formula aisles will be chock-a-block with overseas travelers eager for safe, pure baby goods and other wonderful Australian products. And it’s not just flag-following tourist groups taking peace-sign selfies with the Sydney Opera House in the background – it’s also individual tourists looking for experiential Australian travel.

Over 1 million Chinese visitors in a 12-month period took advantage of hotels, retailers and tourist attractions – and what’s more – according to Boston Consulting Group – half of the their travel budget was spent on shopping. So how can you get your brand in on the action?

Do you really need to speak Chinese? No, not really. But if your nephew just finished a degree in Chinese studies, definitely offer him an internship.

When things go viral in China, time to duck and cover. Last year I saw a Chinese social media post going around about Panasonic toothbrushes in Japan – the result that the model in question was sold-out and back-ordered for months (but ONLY that one model). Should you fill up a storm cellar with a year’s supply of Vegemite, just in case it suddenly takes off and becomes the Chinese gourmand’s choice of avant-garde dumpling filling? You’re probably safe.

Here’s a quick checklist on things to consider:
  1. Add Chinese language to your marketing materials or in-store shelf talkers. Make it easy for Chinese travelers to understand your goods. A discrete sign in Chinese in the window welcoming Chinese visitors is also effective. Please make sure to use a good translation / copywriting agency.
  2. Consider Chinese social media. This is how most Chinese get their information. Two choices: Weibo and WeChat. While WeChat is the lifeblood communications tool for most Chinese, Weibo is arguably a more public platform and easier to disseminate new and updates. Overseas department stores, celebrities and sports stars keep a constant flow of info to their Chinese fans through Weibo.
  3. Don’t try to target everyone. Try to focus on a very narrow niche group. China is too big, and messaging can get lost in the shuffle.
  4. Do you have a Chinese name for your company? Galeries Lafayette didn’t – and the result was several competing names floating around, causing confusion in the market. Even if your brand is famous in Australia, why make it difficult for Chinese to pronounce or even identify your English name?
  5. For companies already doing all of this, the next step is to ramp up promotion on social media – contests and using Key Opinion Leaders (influential bloggers) are the most common methods.
  6. Convenience – do you accept UnionPay or other Chinese payment methods? Or is there an ATM nearby that does? This is a society that in 10 years has gone from cash-only to WeChat or Alipay-only. Duty-free or GST refunds are also big draws.
  7. Your website – does it have simplified Chinese? Can Chinese even access it from China or is it blocked?

There are some great resources online, with support from a number of regional government associations (for example: the Chinese Market Toolkit from NSW).

This article was written by our good friend Mike Golden from Brandigo.
Mike is the CEO of Brandigo China, a global branding and marketing agency with offices in Shanghai, Boston, and Manchester UK.


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