Tapping into China’s $US1 trillion economy

With more social media users than the US and Europe combined, China is well on its way to becoming the largest digital economy in the world.

So, how can New Zealand businesses capitalise on this using social media?

Let’s start with the example of Bobbie the Bear, the creation of Robert Ravens, a lavender farmer across the ditch in northeast Tasmania. Bobbie is a cute purple teddy bear filled with lavender, that doubles as a hot water bottle, which first hit the market in 2011. Although popular with tourists, he certainly was not in demand in China – Australia’s second largest inbound tourist market.

Fast forward a few years, and Bobbie became an overnight sensation in China after a well-known Chinese actress with over 13 million followers vouched for his magical abilities to treat aches and pains.

Cue Bobbie mania.

Today Bobbie is a household name in China. More than 65,000 visitors flocked to the lavender farm to buy the fluffy toy in the past year. He has his own Facebook page, YouTube channel and now ABC Commercial is making Bobbie a TV star with his own show targeting the Chinese market. 

In digital advertising terms, the value of a key opinion leader (KOL) being supportive of your product or brand in China cannot be overestimated. 

The numbers speak volumes. The Chinese digital economy alone is worth US$1 trillion. 

Much like the rest of the world, China’s social media market is confusing, diverse, ever changing and shifting at a speed which most organisations find it difficult to match. The ‘Great Firewall of China’ keeps ‘western’ social media behemoths firmly away from Chinese Netizens and so the landscape is less familiar to markets in New Zealand and is dominated by local networks owned and managed by the major Chinese tech players.

While Weibo is arguably the best known of the Chinese social networks, the biggest of which is Sina Weibo (Weibo being the general term for micro blogging), WeChat from Tencent is both the largest and fastest growing of the major social networks. Over 468 million people use WeChat every month and penetration rates in all of China’s top tier cities, or those with a population exceeding 10 million people, exceeds 90 percent in all cases.

So, I guess you are wondering where to start? There are four key ingredients to unlocking this powerhouse.

Understanding China
Know its digital economy and learn how this impacts in New Zealand.

Find out who is talking about your brand, and consider how to position yourself against local and international competitors.

Target Chinese consumers residing in China and living in New Zealand. Weibo and WeChat are king!

Keep abreast of the conversations happening about your brand within this community.

The digital revolution is just beginning and China is an opportunity that New Zealand businesses cannot ignore.

  • Richard Spencer is head of digital at Isentia’s Two Social.
  • Read more at www.unlockingchina.com.
  • This article is sponsored content from our gold sponsor Isentia.

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