In part 4 of our series Selling Food to China can be Child's Play, we will expand on the increasing importance of on line communication.
Engaging with the Chinese food market needs a twofold approach,
You will need a strategy aimed at dealers because they will be your direct customers. Secondly target consumers because once they are brand aware they will create the demand thatwill encourage dealers to invest in stock.
On line promotion is a good way to economically cover a wide area and access a large number of people in a relatively short time.
Online usage in China is growing at an incredible rate with 650 million regular users. This means that there are a lot of opportunities to put a message out there through web sites,web portals, social networking and on line sales, so let us have a look at each
Web sites are seen by many as essential.
If you are looking at a web site aimed at the China market there are some important considerations.1)Ask yourself who you are trying to sell to. - The obvious answer is the Chinese. However many companies still make the mistake of thinking that as English is the universal business language then it's fine to have a site either all, or mostly In English.To be successful a site should be written in colloquial Chinese and in a current Chinese style.
Hosting a site in China makes much more sense. This tends to not be expensive compared with the UK. It means that your site will load much quicker and mean that people are more likely to read it. In todays' world we are used to having instant access to information. When most of us have to wait an age to down load we will quickly move on to another site. In China at the moment internet speeds, whilst improving are comparably slow to the UK. Also remember that there are millions of users sharing the service which slows things down a lot.
Any Chinese site now needs to comply with Chinese law and so needs a certificate.This is something to really think about. We have all heard about the problems in breaking through the Great Firewall of China. Sites can be blocked for completely unexplained reasons - it could be a simple use of a word used colloquially in English that creates an automatic block. Also recently Chinese authorities are being more robust in policing the internet and so having a site that has been approved and certified makes good economic sense. If you have invested in a Chinese version of your web site you want people to be able to access it Doing all this means that you are unlikely to be blocked by the Chinese fire wall and your site will also download much quicker.
When you are structuring a site always remember that now in China 10 times more people now access the web via a smartphone or android device than on a PC and so site build should be that allow for this.
Basically if you do decide that a web site is essential then having a bespoke certified Chinese web site hosted in China is by far the best option if you go down this rout, but you will have to find ways to drive traffic to the site which is far from easy
A better idea is tolook at a Specialist web portal for food such as Food2China.
This is a membership site and has a data base of over 100,000 professional buyers who use it to search for a wide range of products which they want to add to their ranges. The site is dedicated to overseas food products and so anyone who wants to sell overseas food uses it as a resource centre
Your products can be displayed on your own dedicated mini interactive web pages within the site,which is already well optimised. The structure of the site is dynamic and as such all you need to do is add information, there is no need to build the site from scratch
The site is interactive and allows you to regularly post details about your product but more importantly allows you to connect with consumers. If your product is new to China it is likely that it will be unfamiliar to consumers meaning they look for information not only about the product but how it is used, cooked and served. Therefore it is important thatyou promote your product in a way that creates an experience and educates,showing people how to get the best out of the product. This overcomes initial reluctance to try something new. Novelty is a big seller in China at the moment and so regular content management - on a weekly or monthly basis makes a huge difference. You can easily add articles, blogs, recipes and news on to your pages within the site. Again these should be in colloquial Chinese. Doing this builds interest and brand awareness
The site also gives you to access social network sites such as WeChat, which is one of the most used platforms in China at the moment and can be a very powerful promotional tool allowing two way communication between you and potential buyers and consumers.As a business you will want to promote your product and WeChat has a facility to do this along side the usual social interaction. As an example if you are at a show you can add information about your company, products, offers - almost anything that will interest a buyer. Exhibition organisers in China put out information like this almost minute by minute and it is really effective. To do this you have to meet certain regulatory requirements and need to be properly licensed. The Food2China site meets these requirements for you - all you need is content in Chinese
As your interaction grows consumers will then promote your product to others and your message will pass to increasing number of people growing your influence.
In addition the site has an "place an enquiry" function where prospective buyers can ask for more detail and a quotation. Often to answer questions posed will not be quite as straight forward as you might imagine. A typical scenario will be a question that asks "How much is your product?" this is often not a straightforward answer so you may respond with " How much do you want to order?" and the reply can be "that depends on the cost" This is where you need patience and also a way to deal with enquiries in a way that coverts interest to business. Our local team can assist you in managing enquiries that come in as part of our managed service package
We offer a completely managed Food2China programme where you simply provide information in English, which we translate into Chinese and then build you pages and push out regular posts for you.We do this on an annual contract basis and have a special offer that ties this into having a presence at the FHW exhibition
Finally the latest development in on line engagement is the rapidly growing E-commerce route to market
Chinese people now have access to a much wider range of products. And on line sales can quickly offer you much greater coverage of the country. As communities become more urbanized and second tier third and even fourth tier cities develop, access to a wide range of products is in demand but the infrastructure of outlets lags behind. For this reason on line shopping has in some ways leapfrogged the traditional supermarket outlet. Buying on line is easy and convenient and for overseas suppliers means that you have better access to a wider geographical area
On-line companies will of course tend to want only products that will have a fast turnover of stock. This is especially the case with products that have a short shelf life and requires special storage. This means that you need to have created brand awareness and market demand so that you have a good proposition for them. As such this method should be part of your overall longer term strategy
Anderen' specialist team can help you to develop a wide range of on line options which will be structured around your budget. So if you are serious about succeeding in China get in touch today. Our team will work with you to develop your business in China based on a firm foundation
85 Blurton Road
Tel: 01782 326027