The 2022 Beijing Games
The Winter Games offer a global platform for brands to leverage the excitement to a worldwide audience, potentially driving huge revenue and publicity in a variety of industries. Millions of people gather together to watch the games and cheer for their country, while spending billions on various products and services. One of the key principles to be successful at a global event, such as the Winter Games, is to be prepared well in advance and be “in the right place, at the right time”.
With the Beijing 2022 winter games kicking off five Februaries from now, it is the right time for companies to start building their brand in the Chinese market. One of the world’s largest markets holds massive growth opportunities for businesses in every industry. However, the Chinese online market is not that easy to enter as there are a lot of regulations to account for. It is crucial that organizations are aware of all the challenges and obstacles will face before taking the plunge.
Why sell to China?
The online digital space in China operates very differently to most other countries. Businesses will face a multitude of strict rules and regulations that will confuse their market entry strategy.
Penetrating China via the web is now the standard entry point for the majority of brands. This quick-to-market and economically low-risk method permits brands to access 2nd, 3rd and 4th tier cities where traditional brink and mortar retail is limited. Moreover, digital entry offers opportunities for brands to scale their reach by leveraging the “unique-to-China” tools. With this opportunity, though, comes an equal downside that can hurt brands if they do not understand the rules of the road.
The China Firewall
It is important to understand the role of the China firewall. Most global software and web-sites do not load or are blocked in China (Twitter, Facebook, Google, Instagram, YouTube, Marketo, Salesforce etc.) – most of which are leveraged by brands globally.
Before Google was fully blocked by the China firewall, it was throttled for years to make it appear as if Googles search engine was slow and buggy. This allowed Chinese search engines, such as Baidu, to grow and prosper, ultimately, leaving Google unused and effectively dead. Now, it’s not just Google search that’s blocked. Gmail, Google Maps, Google Driver, Google Cloud, Google Plus and Google Photos are all unavailable.
YouTube was blocked by the China firewall in a bid to allow local sites to prosper and grow. Now when internet users in China try to access YouTube they are greeted with a “Network Timeout. The server at youtube.com is taking too long to respond.”
With Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all blocked within China accessing your target audience may seem a daunting task. Luckily, each of these sites have their own Chinese alternatives in WeChat, Weibo and RenRen, that offer amazing platforms for reaching out to potential customers. With China’s online population just recently reaching 731 million users, companies have a huge opportunity to access an enormous online market.
For companies looking to expand into the China market it is essential that they are aware of the China firewall and these blockages. Not only does it mean reassessing your entire social presence, but also requires a major alteration to your current marketing campaigns (switching from Google to Baidu for all PPC and SEO campaigns). How will your potential clients know you’re there if they can’t find you? This also means maintaining an ICP license for any standalone China site you develop. It’s important to understand that even if your international site isn’t blocked in China, unless it is hosted within mainland China it will more than likely lag and run very slowly. When all is said and done, when a customer is facing a site that takes longer than 20 seconds to load (average load time for non-China-hosted websites) they will leave.
The Chinese Economy
China’s economy grew 7 times as fast as Americas over the past decade (316% growth vs. 43%). This massive expansion to the economy has seen a huge increase in middle class consumers with more disposable income. For any company looking to grow or expand its global footprint, China is no doubt an attractive and lucrative option. There may be a few hurdles along the way, but just understanding that digital laws and regulations are far different to what we may be used to in the west is the first step you need to take.
Web Presence in China offers digital marketing and IT services to help companies build their online presence in China. If you require assistance or need consultancy in your journey of expansion, we would love to help you rock the Chinese online market.