Ultra-connected China : a source of inspiration ?
Having lived and worked in China for seven years, Augustin Missoffe, Director of Sopexa China, has had the time to observe, day after day, the way digital technology has evolved in this country. In his view, China now has a 5 to 8 year lead over the rest of the world in terms of digital media and the ways it is used.
An ultra-connected everyday life
This lead is illustrated above all through the various players who have made a name for themselves thanks to constant innovation. For a long time, China was a copycat before surpassing the technologies that exist elsewhere!
WeChat, for example, which was a social network like WhatsApp, is today an “all-in-one” application that can be used in virtually every aspect of daily life: it helps you stay in touch with friends, co-workers and clients, as well as work, pay for your groceries, make an appointment at the doctor’s, get information on brands and products, share your holiday photos, book plane tickets and a whole lot more. Much more than a social network, today it has become a way of life!
This trend has undoubtedly been helped by the fact that many Chinese began using mobile devices directly without ever having touched a computer. As a result, consumers adapted much more quickly to the new ways in which digital devices are used.
In China, payments via smartphone are much more common than elsewhere in the world, and nobody is afraid of them. Here, everything – your car, apartment, food, etc. - can be paid for using WeChat on your mobile. Personally, I haven’t used an ATM machine for two years, and I don’t even take my wallet with me anymore when I go out.
As you might expect, one consequence is that e-commerce, like personal care services, has skyrocketed in this country.
User experience: a critical challenge for brands and retailers
Chinese consumer habits are very different from those in the rest of the world. They want everything right away. While they continue to go to stores because it is a “social activity”, at the same time they will also do their shopping online.
Very fond of services, the Chinese are driving retailers and brands to develop many new Online + Offline (O+O) solutions.
In order to stand out, retailers are constantly innovating, trying new services and shelving others, yet always striving to offer an experience that is 100% consumer-oriented.
At the heart of this approach, data is of critical importance, as it is particularly difficult to obtain in a rather closed ecosystem. The key information that brands and retailers are all hunting for like the Holy Grail is the consumer’s telephone number. To do this, they are amazingly inventive, namely creating paperless loyalty schemes on WeChat, mini programmes, dematerialised native applications and more.
Thus, in order to be a player on this market, you must absolutely know how WeChat works, because everything happens there, from brand communication to sales. Or you have to get some help from an agency that knows how to build the right communication campaign for you.
To win over your customers and make them loyal, you need to do much more than simply present your products online. You have to really tell a story that will encourage consumers to identify with and experience your brand, whether it be in food & drink, luxury goods, automotive or other sectors. And in this world where marketing is highly regulated, KOLs are of the utmost importance in promoting your brand and sustaining its communication to millions of fans.
Indeed, the Chinese market has some very specific features that do not necessarily apply elsewhere. Yet, in my view, it is this creativity, this drive for innovation and this willingness to try out disruptive models – even though they don’t always work – that should inspire us.
Augustin Missoffe, Director, Sopexa China
Crédit photo : D.R.
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