The Marketing, Online & Research Agency for China

Localising For China - Not Always What You Think

Localising Chinese Food & Beverage

As Chinese consumers are becoming more sophisticated, so are their diets.  Increasing awareness of healthy living and food safety issues, coupled with rising affluence is making Chinese more particular about what they eat.  

Food and beverage imports are expected to grow 15% a year to $80 billion by 2018. Yet Chinese still have many different flavour preferences to the consumers in countries these imports are coming from.

A look at the most popular Western food and beverage brands in China is case in point.  Red Bean Green Tea Frappuccino isn't exactly a top seller in Starbucks stores in Seattle, and red date-flavoured crackers from Oreo's Mondalez probably wouldn't go down well in Oklahoma. Many of the big Western companies such as Nestle and Pepsi Co have set up research centres in the Mainland to develop products that appeal to Chinese palettes.

Where to Host Your Chinese Website

Chinese web site

Many websites hosted outside of China are experiencing increasing traffic coming from the Mainland. Although these sites can be optimised for Chinese visitors by providing translations, localised content and familiar payment options, they will only ever win a tiny share of China's rising consumers' spending.

Sites hosted outside of the Mainland load noticeably slower for Chinese surfers. They are less likely to rank well on search engines such as Baidu and Qihoo, and are generally less trusted than sites hosted in Mainland China. Just 3% of China's Internet traffic goes beyond the Great Firewall, and most of it is to the big American dotcoms.

Businesses Who Do Well in China, Even Without Being in the Government's Good Books

Volkswagen China

The Chinese Government have a dream, and businesses that align with that dream are well placed to prosper. 

For a prospering business, we only need to look to online shopping and specifically Alibaba.  eCommerce is one of the key pillars of China's 12th Five Year Plan, aiding China's transition from an investment-led to a consumption-led economy.  But the Government's support spans deeper than that.  Beijing's official line on its much-publicised "Chinese Dream" is first and foremost about national "rejuvenation" (民族的伟大复兴) and the development of a "comprehensive national power" (综合国力的发展). Nothing represents a strong and rejuvenated China more than its ecommerce sector. 

China's Fashion Industry Trends That Apply Across Many Products

Chinese fashion

Few industries are a barometer for what consumers consider to be "cool" quite like the fashion industry.  Over the past 12-18 months, some interesting fashion trends have been occurring in China that are worth taking note of.

It wasn't long ago when foreign brands had a 'monopoly' on high-end fashion. In October 2012, research from the World Luxury Association found that 86% of Chinese consumers refused to buy luxury products "Made in China" due to the country's reputation for cheap goods.

Enter popular role models such as China's First Lady Peng Liyuan, who wear nothing but Chinese fashion, and that perception has swiftly changed. Mintel research in March this year found 40% of Chinese believe local luxury clothing and shoes provide the same quality. 

China's Health System Provides Plenty of Opportunities

Sick Chinese consumers

A poor environment, unsafe food and unhealthy urban lifestyles are only partly to blame for Chinese consumers' soaring health concerns. One of their most pressing worries is the state health system.

The Chinese Government's contribution to health has been historically low compared to many countries. Even after spending more than ¥2.3 trillion ($372 billion) on health reforms between 2009 and 2013, Chinese consumers remain generally dissatisfied with public health. Much of the motivation behind China's high saving rates is to pay for future health care.  It's also been the main factor in Chinese consumers' long history of preventative self care, which is driving demand for consumer-focused health products and services.

Western F&B Brands May Want to Rethink Their Supply Chains in China

Sad McDonalds

It wasn't long ago that many Chinese consumers considered KFC's greasy chicken drumsticks to be a good healthy meal.  The assurance of safe Western preparation standards and quality control processes had diners confident that they were less likely to fall ill than eating at a local restaurant.

That perception took a dive in late-2012, when state media revealed that excessive amounts of antibiotics and hormones were being pumped into some KFC chicken products.  Coupled with the bird flu outbreak in early 2013, KFC's sales sunk 30% in the first quarter of that year.  The ensuing advertising campaign centred around the "trust in every bite" messaging has struggled to restore consumers' faith. 

WeChat's Commerce Balancing Act

WeChat Money

Every other week, there's a report of a new WeChat feature allowing businesses to advertise or sell to the 400 million+ active monthly users on the service. 

While WeChat's transition from a communication tool to a transactional one won't happen over night, and sales of products are currently only a fraction of platforms like Tmall, there are plenty of signs that Chinese consumers are warming to the idea of shopping through their favourite app. 

G'Day Mate: Australians the Most Welcoming to Chinese Tourists

Chinese with koala in Australia

Australia has long been known for its stunning beaches, peculiar marsupials, the Opera House and a big red rock.  But now Australia has become recognised as the most welcoming country for Chinese tourists according to the 2014 tourism report.  With 39% of those surveyed considering Australia a welcoming country, it was streets ahead of the number 2 placed country Singapore at 29%. The French, not known for their politeness, came in as the top European destination tying for third with the South Koreans and loveable Kiwis at 28%.  Asian destinations are perceived as the most welcoming overall to Chinese earning four of the top-10 spots, in light of some political tensions.

The positive perception of hospitality will bode well for the countries far beyond the tourist operators, with food and beverage, property and a slew of other segments standing to benefit. 

Chinese Parents Aren't Exactly Breeding Like Rabbits

chinese baby

Last December many applauded the Chinese Government's liberalisation of its one-child policy, which allowed most families in China to have two children for the first time in 35 years. As a result, we have seen many businesses ramp up their forecasts and investments to cater for the anticipated boom - Shanghai's Disneyland development, which added $800 million to its budget, was one of them.

China's 1.04 birth rate in 2011 was less than half of the 2.10 rate needed to maintain the country's population. Conservative analysts predicted the new policy would raise the birth rates to 1.8 per mother, or 19 million births every 12-months, with one of the more bullish commentators predicting a rabbit-style explosion of 48 million babies a year.  

Batman the Bad Guy in China

Batman the bad guy in China

For some, Batman is a selfless hero fighting to keep evil from Gotham City.  Yet, according to China's Communist Party mouthpiece the Global Times, the Caped Crusader is a vehicle for American skulldugery, grouped in with the CIA, an American think tank and pro-democracy NGO, and said to be responsible for the current troubles in Hong Kong.


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