China's e-commerce landscape is evolving rapidly, offering Australian brands and retailers a huge opportunity.
Deterred by safety and quality issues with domestic products, Chinese consumers are increasingly looking to Australia to buy directly through cross-border e-commerce.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, China’s cross-border e-commerce market reached 6.5 trillion yuan ($1.35 trillion) in 2016, accounting for 20 per cent of China’s foreign trade.
It’s anticipated it will continue to grow annually at more than 30 per cent over the next few years.
By 2020, a quarter of China’s population, amounting to more than half of all digital buyers, will be shopping either directly on foreign-based sites or through third parties.
If your business is going to survive in such a competitive market, you need to be aware of, and adopt, the latest marketing trends influencing Chinese consumers to promote customer engagement and acquire new customers at a lower cost.
As traditional marketing channels continue to lose their influence in securing consumers, new channels have emerged to solve this problem.
Live-streaming and online celebrity marketing are the latest channels employed by the Chinese e-commerce market to reinvigorate the sagging online marketing industry.
While the marketing influence of celebrities in the Western world is useful, online celebrities in China – known as key opinion leaders (KOLs) – have a very powerful effect on consumers.
The success of social media platforms such as WeChat and Weibo, has given rise to a number of influential bloggers and social commentators, as well as the usual suspects including national celebrities and politicians. These celebrities mainly attract followers by being an authority on a particular subject and gain credibility through a long history of interacting with them.
Traditionally, online advertising works as a funnel model. As the communication curve extends, the number of receivers decreases, forming a funnel-like model.
However, online celebrity marketing can generate a ripple effect – the brand communication works like a ripple, which transmits the brand information without being weakened.
Not only are online celebrities experts in a particular field, their reputations are based on the accuracy of the information they provide.
They are often regarded as more trustworthy and influential than advertising. This makes followers less likely to be deterred by ads, which means online celebrities can subtly persuade them to make a purchase.
Using high-profile celebrities boasting millions of followers is a very effective strategy to reach target audiences.
Your retail business has the potential to directly influence a large community and reach thousands or even millions of potential customers.
It’s crucially important you learn how to build relationships with these vital sources of advertising to succeed.
The growing popularity of live streaming rides on tech-savvy Chinese consumers craving a real-time connection with online personalities.
User-generated video streams are broadcast on various live-streaming apps such as the popular Inke and Huajiao. These services in China differ from others worldwide as most offer a way to profit.
Combined with celebrities, live streaming means a traffic gold mine waiting to be tapped for e-commerce. Viewers can engage with the host at any moment while they are watching, increasing the chances of them placing orders. This offers a high conversion rate for retailers and brands advertising using this channel.
To demonstrate how retailers can benefit from these online marketing channels, a 12-person delegation of Chinese online celebrities and editors toured Australia and New Zealand last year to understand the authenticity and reliability of local, ethical products.
The delegation visited stores and warehouses of five retail businesses that have established e-commerce businesses in China – Pharmacy Online, Pharmacy 4 Less, Amcal, Kiwi Discovery and Pharmacy Direct.
The celebrities shared their experiences online and the tour was broadcast on live-streaming channels.
This gave Chinese consumers a glimpse into how their favourite products from Australia and New Zealand are packaged and distributed, showcasing the quality of the products they plan to purchase.
During the live streaming, purchase links were pushed to viewers to place orders immediately.
This campaign helped these retailers develop more effective and rewarding channels, as well as better understand what Chinese consumers needed and wanted.
It demonstrates how Australian retailers can drive awareness of their brands and products in China to take their e-commerce businesses to the next level.
• Rania Awad is Azoya’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand. Based in Melbourne, Ms Awad delivers the value proposition of Azoya’s cross-border e-commerce solutions to retail customers and prospects in Australia, as well as strengthening the company’s local partner network. For more information, visit: http://www.azoyagroup.com/