"Brands should start connecting with Chinese consumers at least a year before launching in China and there's no better time to start than in the lead-up to Christmas," advises Margaret Harris, Co-CEO of United Brand Group.
But why now and why Christmas? I hear the carollers sing.
For many brands with global plans, the path to Christmas can be tarnished by low margin ecommerce sales events (Double Eleven, Black Friday, Cyber Monday).
Last month’s forecasts from Roy Morgan and Australian Retailers Association have predicted that Australians will spend over $52.7 billion across retail stores during the Christmas trading period. This is an increase of 2.6 per cent from last year and many brands will be doing it tough and working harder than ever to capture Christmas dollars this year.
2019 has, and continues to be, a tough one on every front with many predicting that this Christmas will be more about small, meaningful and local with hopefully a much needed dose of Hygge - the Norwegian word for a mood of coziness, wellness and contentment - while eating our feelings.
Which brings us back to Chinese consumers and how they may just be the magic ticket for forward thinking brands.
For most brands, Chinese consumers in Australia are a largely forgotten segment with many assuming they'll be caught by the domestic marketing net and the balance being taken care of by the mysterious Daigou market.
My co-founder of United Brand Group, Margaret Harris, vigorously disagrees with this brand stance as she’s increasingly seeing brands losing market share when they don’t have a specific strategy for this segment.
The following statistics give a quick overview of the size and characteristics of this demographic:
There are 1.2 million Chinese Australians
42% of these people were born in Mainland China
Only 18% speak English at home
10% of all Australian University students are from China
1.4 million Chinese visitors per year to Australia spending $12 billion a year
These statistics are remarkably robust for a largely ignored consumer segment, but it doesn't end there. Brands who make the effort to engage with Chinese consumers, in their language, with the right messaging, with the right content and on the right marketing platforms, are rewarded with the gift that truly does keep on giving, user generated content.
A key characteristic of the Chinese consumer segment is their willingness to generate content via social media channels when they fall in love with a brand and/or its products. Their connections across social and ecommerce platforms mean that they not only seed your brand to Chinese friends and family in Australia, but also in China itself.
The discovery of new items in Australia by the Chinese in the lead up to Christmas is an excellent way of brands planning a launch there in 2020.
Kate Walker is co-CEO of United Brand Group. She has 15+ years multi-category experience advising and taking brands into the China market. Her company, UBG, delivers strategic marketing and sales management for long term business success in China.