So, mid year 6.18 sale is over, everyone is now looking towards the year end sale which normally kicks off end of October every year. Obviously, sellers who are already present in China are preparing for the stocks, promotion strategies, logistics, marketing…. For brands who are still looking and waiting, we urge you to get it rolling before you miss out the year end peak season.
"Here are 3 easy steps to get started:"
STEP 1/ Get Someone Who Knows The Market
China represents an extensive market of great potential, understanding exactly where the opportunities lie and how to access them can be extremely challenging. The common challenges for Western brands to enter China are not having a Chinese entity and a team to work on operation, brands are also worried about cross border payment, confused with the many channels in the market, not sure how to make their brand known, while logistics is another headache….
Get someone who is really from the industry to work with you, could either be a Consultant or an agency or your staff. Make sure you have a first overview of the market, such as where your edge is, the allocation of your investment and a basic market research on you competitors. In order to be a part of the Chinese ecommerce market, Western brands have to understand in detail how Chinese consumers buy products and how they can fit into this whole process. A sufficient amount of local understanding is required when first selling to China through ecommerce.
STEP 2/ Pick the Right Channel & Draw Your Strategy
"Being an early entrant on Xiaohongshu, brands could benefit from less competition, build up a significant online presence and create a position for themselves in the market."
E-commerce in China is so prevalent and is closely linked to social media sites such as WeChat and Weibo and many others. The well known ones are Tmall, JD, Kaola, VIP.com, WeChat Store, with growing ones such as Xiaohongshu (RED) but they might not all suit your brand. Tmall and JD are the biggest marketplaces which also implies that competition would be intense. It would require considerable amount of investment in the operation and marketing in order to make your brand and shop stand out. Kaola and VIP.com are well known as cross border eCommerce shopping platforms in China. They welcome brands which already have certain presence in the market. While as, Xiaohongshu (RED) is a growing channel with highly targeted users. Being an early entrant, brands could benefit from less competition, build up a significant online presence and create a position for themselves in the market.
In addition to choosing the right channel, it is important to work on a plan to increase the visibility of your brand to Chinese consumers. Understanding how the Chinese consumers use the different social media channels is crucial. A typical example would be Xiaohongshu, which heavily promotes word of mouth. The aspect of “daily life sharing” needs to be included into the brand image and strategy, which can only be done by someone who understands how the locals work in China. What works on channels like WeChat or Douyin would may not work on Xiaohongshu.
STEP 3/ Get Things Rolling & Adjust Along the Way
"In reality, there is no 'Perfect Plan'."
Lastly, I understand that brands would always feel a lot more confortable to take any move based on a “Perfect Plan”. In reality, there is no “Perfect Plan”. China is changing rapidly where new trends and technologies are emerging every day.
Instead of trying to formulate and execute “The Perfect Plan”, go with the plan you think is right and trust your instincts. It is important to choose a flexible strategy to adapt to everyday life and understand the behaviour of the Chinese consumers to best meet their expectations.
The year end sales is traditionally the time for sellers to reach their sales figures. It is also the best moment for new brands to come into the market. Make sure that you get your basic infrastructures (online shop) set up at least 3 months before Double 11 sales kick off. Lock down marketing plans and book the resources (KOL, live streaming…) 2 months ahead.