Alibaba high-end membership APASS, what the luxury brand needs to know
September 9th was Alibaba’s APASS Day
Red carpet, hot girls and boys dressing up, while this is not a movie award ceremony, it is the first APASS off-line anniversary event held by Alibaba recently in Shanghai. They also invited Martha Lahti, SKII, Estee Lauder and many other international brands to join.
At this event, Alibaba Chief Marketing Officer Dong Benhong first revealed the level of APASS spending: “Based on the current membership size, these APASS members spend at least 30 billion RMB of their net purchases each year.”
Who is this group of people?
According to Ali group customer experience drive and Innovation Center General Manager Wang Hai, he said “APASS members are mainly trendy mothers, business elites, online shoppers and business generation”.
Here we have some examples. Zhang Yixin is a freshman in college. She spent 1 million last year on beauty products, jewelry and other luxury goods to simply just dress herself up.
Wang Ruoxi has 12 years of experience on Taobao. She would spend 800 thousand to buy luxurious watches and many other pricy goods including exorbitant Martha Lahti. Last year, she bought 16 brand-name handbags on Taobao. Right now, she makes her own skin care brand on Taobao’s line and transitions into a seller from a buyer.
In addition to our “super-chop type” buyers, Zhu Rongfei, one of the APASS members, is a “collection type” buyer. She bought more than 300 sets of Lego Limited Edition toys online as she is a maniac Lego fan.
What is APASS?
This lavish style of spending has made them gain the Alibaba Passport, also called APASS. It is an exclusive rewards program and a combination of Facebook, Amazon Prime and the American Express Black Card. Its 100,000 members get unusual perks in daily life such as abnormally good deals on trips, free return of products purchased online and considerate personal service. Meanwhile, they are also encouraged to join online communities of shopaholics who blog and talk up Alibaba.
When Zhang Yixin mentioned the APASS membership service, she spoke with excitement: “What moved me most was that once, just right before an important show I had the next day, I lost my dresses that I was going to put on. The exclusive customer manager managed to find a seller in the city at night and got me the dress in time. It was amazing.”
What luxury brands should know about APASS?
If luxury marketers doing business in China want to understand Chinese consumers better, they need to pay for professional market research agencies to do it. The APASS program offers a shortcut for brands to achieve this goal. It not only allows them to gain insight into their potential consumers, but it also shows them who they should target directly.
Even though it remains ambiguous whether APASS truly has what it claims to offer to luxury brands in China, brands such as Louis Vuitton, Ocean glasses, Antonio Banderas Guerlain, and Maserati are already among those who are beginning to test out what the APASS can reach.
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How to Target Clusters to Sell in China?
When talking about selling in China, the Chinese regional polarization becomes a relevant frame of reference. How to deal with such a vast country which could be considered a continent in itself?
In any process of business development in the Chinese territory, companies face the same fundamental problem. Even if there is not a single answer, these three below are constantly repeated.
First, the Company lacks totally of any real knowledge about China. Intuition is not a pray and you would be wrong.
Doing business in China by making a North-South East-West division is not useful, neither the best solution. Split the territory geographically will drive you towards more inaccuracies. To give you an idea, Guangzhou and Shenzhen belong both the south but they barely share any similarity.
Guangzhou is traditional Cantonese speaking city with a strong rooted culture. Meanwhile, Shenzen is more cosmopolitan mandarin speaking city populated in its vast majority by immigrants from all over the country and overseas. There is a Chinese common say about Shenzhen, “Once you get to Shenzhen, you become <<Shenzhenese>>”.
Secondly, once we realized that geographical distribution might not be the best option dividing by tiers could seem quite reasonable.
As you probably already know, in China cities are classified in 5 ranges, from Tier 1 to Tier 5, so dividing by tiers is again a mistake.
The example just exposed would serve also as explanation. Another example would be Beijing and Shanghai. Both belong to Tier 1 cities; nonetheless there is no possible comparison between Beijing and Shanghai, despite of the fact that both are super cold in the winter, although they tried to sell us that Shanghai belongs to the south…!
Beijing, capital of the People’s Republic of China, has been the capital of the country for much of the past eight centuries. Beijing is the cultural and political core of the Chinese nation. Tradition is venerated and could be observed in every place of the city.
Shanghai on the other hand, is the largest city in the world and the financial center of China. Luxury, skyscrapers and mix of cultures are some of the characteristics of the city. In Shanghai is common to find a huge number of expats and western style neighbors due to existence of the old French concession. So, there is no point to focus on city size.
Third and yes, Chinese people share several distinctive characteristics which are markedly different from any other culture, but Chinese are still Earthmen.
So please, do not fall into generalizations but neither forget a main description of the modern Chinese consumer:
- First, the Chinese remain best disciplined savers. The Chinese saving is not only driven by culture but also due to its lack of a real social care system
- Second, the Chinese are not loyal to brands, and they love experimenting trends, products and services
- Third, Chinese are savvy consumers, based on the price variable
- Fourth, Chinese shoppers have begun to understand the gap between price and value
Therefore, which would the best way to segment China?
Recently, Mckinsey studied which would be the best way to segment China into reasonable pieces. After reviewing many indicators, experts concluded that it was reasonable to cluster the Chinese territory.
It is helpful to focus on cluster size and much more effective. China is huge and Cities can be very far from one to another, so you better bear in mind that distance is a key point when doing business. We also must add that areas can be much attractive to business than cities, due to its bigger GDP and incomes, larger population and better facilities.
In the meantime, take a look beyond historical growth rates can help you to extrapolate future trends and discover if your product or service is going to last. Remember Clusters share trends and determine their evolving. For example, milk was slowly introduced in the country, first in the Shanghai area, to gradually spread.
Landing in China is never easy
In 2 Open we hope you enjoyed the reading but especially, that these tips have helped you know better the Chinese business reality.
Keep in mind that it would be much better if your arrival occurs by the hand of a consulting agency specializing in Chinese business, Ecommerce and Digital Marketing.
Need help to sell online in China?
This article was edited by Paula Vicuña from 2 Open.
10 Things you Need to Know to Build a Chinese Website (Part 2)
In the first part of this article, we showed and identified 5 main points that differentiate a Chinese website from its western counterpart that we need to keep in mind in order to build a good one.
Let us summarize some of the main points addressed in the previous article:
- The style, design and structure are more complex and with much more information in opposition to the cleanness of the western websites
- Where to host your Chinese website is one of the first decisions to make. The most of the times we advise you to have a hosting in China. For that you will need a Chinese company to apply for an Internet Content Provider (ICP License)
- The Chinese Great Firewall blocks all websites that do not meet the content requirements that marks the Chinese government
- Your website needs to be ready to integrate with the main Chinese players. Google, Facebook and friends are banned in China; instead you will need to use the BATs (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent).
After this little updating, we would like to further develop this post showing you 5 more crucial things to take in consideration when building a good Chinese website.
When building a chinese website, What else should I know?
6 – CHINA IS MOBILE. BE RESPONSIVE
Adapting our website to mobile is very important in any country, but in China is mandatory.
The Smartphone is, in many cases, the only way they have to access the Internet. Therefore Chinese users are much more familiar with the use of mobile devices. Keep in mind that almost the 50% of all Ecommerce transactions made in 2015 were done via mobile, compared to the also quite high 22% in the United States.
Don’t think any longer and start working on a nice mobile design… Mobile first!
7 – DOMAIN. WHICH ONE IS THE RIGHT OPTION FOR ME
In your approach to domains, three are the main options:
– Not that long ago, to have a .CN was a must. It was not possible to get it if you didn’t have a Chinese legal entity. This has changed over the time and now you can easily get a .cn domain, no matter where your company comes from, just providing a copy of your Company’s ID. As the Chinese international top level domain, your brand might be perceived as having a strong presence in China and might also bring some trust
– On the other hand, we have the .COM domain. Chinese Internet users are increasingly getting used to this domain. Major Ecommerce platforms like Tmall.com, JD.com or Sunning.com may bear much of the blame for this. It can be very good for foreign companies trying to sell their products in the Asian giant to have a .com domain as it might help to highlight the international feel of the brand
– .COM.CN is the ugly duckling in the middle still in use by many brands mixing the good things from the previous mentioned domains, but without reaching their full advantages. In any case it can also be a good solution.
Which language should I use?
Another point to think about is the language to be used. Does your brand have a Chinese name? Then you can also use its pinyin term. Pinyin is the romanization system for standard Chinese: Chinese search engines recognise the pinyin words in the URL and then link them to what they stand for in Chinese characters in order for the website not to lose coherence.
Don’t get crazy about the domain, they are usually not that expensive. So, in case you can afford it, try to get the three of them (.com, .cn and .com.cn), plus their pinyin variants and redirect them to the main one; depending on your strategy.
8 – CONTENT. DON’T GET LOST IN TRANSLATION
It is important to know very well your main target markets as the language will differ depending on it. It might be obvious to mention it, but it wouldn’t be the first time that a company’s target consumer is in Hong Kong, Taiwan or Macao and the language used for the website translation was simplified Chinese instead of traditional Chinese and the other way around. That is a major and silly mistake that takes a long time to revert.
I don’t want to mention either the fact that a Google translated web does not help at all, but I am doing it because I have seen too many. It is mandatory to let a professional team take care of the translations. In 2 Open we separate this process in three parts:
- Translation, interpreting the main message that the customer wants to transmit to the final customer, done by a marketing professional in our team
- External review, done by a professional translator outside the team
- Final review, done by another marketing professional in our team
You might not believe it, but in certain cases we still get minor complaints. This is because Chinese language can be interpreted in many different ways. Therefore translations are always a difficult point in the list.
Is Customization a mandatory requirement?
Let’s not forget about the Chinese cultural customization. Website localization embraces translating and localizing a site into different languages making sure all content (text, images and videos) is translated correctly in an accurate, cultural and technical manner.
As stated before when talking about content, we are also talking about images and videos. There are no written rules and it has similarities to the domain section we discussed above. There are brands like Nike or Zara that prefer to maintain their international feel using western models in their multimedia strategy. Many young Chinese users welcome this method, but not all of them. Depends on the strategy you want to follow.
9 – PAYMENT OPTIONS. CREDIT CARDS? NO, THANKS
In the previous post, we wrote about the BATs (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent). In China, the online payments market is currently dominated by two of these two tech giants – Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat payment with 49.2% and 20% market share respectively.
These companies try to increase their market share by adding more brands and merchants within their ecosystem; something that both companies effectively handle. Also cash is king, as cash on delivery holds a strong position. The fast and vast adoption of electronic payments via mobile is likely to counter this trend in due time.
It is actually China and not the US at the leading edge of the trends towards mobile payments technology. Just for putting an example, both WeChat and Alipay have long used the now famous QR codes to let Chinese netizens pay for purchases and transfer money. It seems they have jumped over some natural technological development processes. This kind of behaviours can be quite normal in undeveloped countries that start to grow very rapidly.
What happened is that they adopted the mobile payment technologies even before implementing some existing ones as a huge percentage of the Chinese population accesses the Internet via mobile devices.
Get ready to integrate Alipay in your website as first and mandatory option. And seeing how fast Tencent WeChat payment is growing, that would be your second natural option.
10 – SEO
Once your website is ready, you will need to submit it to Baidu creating a Baidu Webmaster Tools account (only available in Chinese). That way Baidu will be able to index the site properly and your great Chinese adventure starts!
Search engine optimization done in Baidu is not so very different as the one you could do for Google. Anyway, we would like to note a few differences I think you need to know:
– Meta description – unlike Google and Bing, Baidu still uses Meta descriptions as a ranking factor. Keyword targeted description match users’ queries and their demands, which would help with the click through rate (CTR).
– Indexation – Baidu’s web crawling bot, Baiduspider, is not as advanced as the one from Google. As a result, you will need to help Baiduspider to discover and index your pages in different ways. Without mentioning that you can go to sleep and wake up with huge traffic losses or de-indexed pages usually caused by a penalization. Be careful what you do!
– Link building – On Baidu, it is not about the quality of the publishers’ website, it is more about the unique relevancy of the content (as it relates to your content) and the quantity of links to your pages. Baidu penalizes duplicate content and it also disallows irrelevancy. Authority and quality of the publisher is not that important (for now). In short, the more the merrier as long as it is not duplicate.
– Baidu services – Baidu offers a lot of different products apart of Search; use them and leverage their integrated marketing power. The most useful are Baidu Zhidao (questions and answers service) and Baidu Baike (Wiki service), but there are tons of other services that might be helpful to increase brand awareness and for content creation.
As for the tracking, most people use Baidu Tongji and/or Google Analytics. Yes, you read it well; Google Analytics still works in China and it is the only Google service that still does. You will find many detractors, but for what we have seen there is no huge discrepancies between the data collected by both systems (usually not higher than 5%). And Google Analytics has more functionalities than Baidu Tongji.
It is also important to mention the typography. Chinese language is not easy to read due to the difficulty associated to its typography. With 40,000 characters, they are divided in strokes which amount can vary between 1 and 60. Therefore the font size should be at least 12px.
At 2 Open, we would be pleased to help you.Take the advantages the Chinese market offers.
With the cooperation of our Digital Marketing and Ecommerce Agency, China will be at your fingertips.
Do not hesitate to visit us We´d loved to hear from you!
This article has been edited by Paula Vicuña, from 2 Open.
How to use Tencent Penguin Intelligence in your approach to the Chinese market?
Are you looking for the latest news of Tech innovation in China?
The goal of this article is to shed some lights of why Penguin Intelligence is a work-tool to keep in mind on your approach to China.
Penguin Intelligence is the official data platform from Tencent Technology
Tencent Research Organization works such as a professional organization which publishes in-depth reports about the Chinese mobile ecosystem.
Penguin Intelligence performs research and advocacy concerning hot-topics. It also studies markets, trends and best emerging practices.
Their work is founded on a rigorous thorough understanding of every Industry Focus, Sector Dynamics, Case Studies, Data Analysis and Macro environment.
Penguin Intelligence is constantly optimizing the analytical model
Penguin Intelligence is your best choice if you want to figure out what is happening in Chinese Internet Industry. Unfortunately, their business analysis and reports are only available in Chinese for the moment.
Penguin Intelligence also counts with three original sub-columns:
- Penguin Investigation
- Penguin Analysis
- Penguin Portfolio
In addition, Penguin Intelligence includes an Open Platform, which is a huge cohesion of all wisdom from China technological business.
What will you find in Penguin Intelligence?
As we have mention above, Penguin Intelligence contains a full variety of reports, infographics and data.
There are more than thirty valuable Business research reports, hundreds of in-depth analysis reports that have been already published and the Platform keeps growing every day.
The influence of these reports / studies has touched up multiple areas of Internet and traditional industries.
Due to its importance, Penguin Intelligence currently enjoys high reputation and credibility in Governments and Enterprises.
To illustrate the kind of searches which can be done, from 2 OPEN we have compiled a brief list of some of the most striking examples that you can find on the Platform:
- In-depth reports and fresh data about Tencent ecosystem; WeChat public accounts: What type of articles get the most attention from readers?
- Many infographics and graphs about mobile ecosystem in China; iPhoneS sales in China
- Data about digital marketing customer behavior; Do customers prefer hongbao or discounts?
Relying on Tencent, Penguin Intelligence contains a large user base and massive data advantage of products in multiple fields:
- Social networking application: WeChat (Most-used application in China)
- Social networking service: Qzone, Tencent microblog, Tencent Video
- Instant messengers: QQ, QQ International
- Online payment system: TenPay (which is similar to Paypal)
- Cloud storage service: Tencent Weiyun
- Own search engine: Soso.com
- Media player: QQ player, QQ Music, KuGou Music, KuWo Music
- C2C auction site: paipai.com (now merged with JD.com)
The huge scale of Tencent Data is the cornerstone of Penguin Intelligence ability to mine and analyze data, and serving professional market insights and industry reports.
Do you want to discover a little more of Penguin Intelligence?
As a Digital Marketing and Sales Agency, from 2 OPEN we often suggest you to contact us for a deeper understanding of all knowledge Penguin hosts.
Do not forget to subscribe to our Newsletter to receive some special information about China!
This article has been edited by Paula Vicuña from 2 Open.
How to take advantage of the latest E Commerce revolution? U-Commerce trend
Nowadays, we all are very well aware of the importance of Ecommerce on current business.
E-Commerce has been a great revolution for companies and customers, helping the exchange of goods and services without geographical barriers via Internet.
With most of famous brands selling via e-Commerce and the development of B2B, B2C and C2C markets, the last revolution has come to stay: the Mobile Commerce or better known, M-Commerce.
But, What do we mean when we talk about M-Commerce?
The increase of the usage of smartphones and tablets and the growth of its capabilities, lead to a higher percentage of the population using technological devices to purchase their goods or services. According to the increase of the demand and in order to take advantage of this new trend, Companies have already identified the need to adapt their ways of selling to the portable devices.
China, the biggest consumer via E-Commerce country and a technologically advanced market, is a good example to put into consideration: the Retail and C2C ecommerce sales have grown from the 9% to the 55.5% since 2013.
This information show us that nowadays, most of the C2C Chinese customers prefer to use the mobile device than their PCs or laptops.
Omnichannel Marketing, What´s its purpose?
At the same time, to E-Commerce has joined a new feature: the existence of the multichannel approach to sales, or “Omnichannel”.
This channel is looking for the continuous shopping experience of each customer. The aim of the Omnichannel Marketing is offering a continuous experience to the user, independent from the device or channel chosen.
In practice, this leads to a complete integration between phones, tablets and computers and it requires the combination of an anthropological and technological strategy in approaching the users in a smarter way.
From the combination of all this, arises the U-Commerce concept.
What is U-Commerce or Ubiquitous Commerce?
If we simplify, we would say that we are talking about U-Commerce when E-Commerce is based in the customer experience.
The user must be in the center of all Companies’ strategies. Those Companies using U-Commerce must be able to provide personalized service to their clients from the information they get from mobile devices and PC-s.
The keys are: customizing and navigation experience created in cooperation with the User.
How is this possible?
It is obvious that the technological development is responsible for this change and makes necessary to pay attention to the internal customer databases.
Companies must try to find out common interests between potential clients who visit their EShops, considering each potential customer as unique and with their own preferences and priorities.
Efforts should be directed to avoid high rates of leads who finally give up navigating in the last purchasing phase, and reach around 60-70%.
This is the crucial reason for companies to invest their efforts and resources in understanding the customers and their behavior: to boost sales.
A lack of privacy: How companies use data?
U-Commerce uses personal information in order to provide a personalized service. A big number of customers feel disrespectful that a company can get their personal information and manage it as they want. Therefore, we must emphasize the benefits that the data can bring to the user and treat delicately the data we are able to collect.
Times are changing and the number of E-Commerce consumers is increasing exponentially and also the M-Commerce is growing very fast.
It’s important to face it and consider user’s needs, their preferences and desires. So companies must rechange strategies and adapt to the new eCommerce “revolution”.
Are you thinking about improving the user experience and exploit the advantages that the use of Online Marketing gives us?
Come to us, We are expecting you!
This article has been edited by Paula Vicuña, from 2 OPEN.
L’Oreal Digital Marketing Campaign in China
In the first half of 2015, L’Oreal’s financial statement reported revenues of 12.82 billion euros worldwide. In comparison with 2014, there was an increase of 14.7%, which is the fastest growth that the company has had in the past 20 years. Its digital marketing campaign was not the exception, with an outstanding 40% increase in online sales, exceeding 1 billion euros; it represented 5% of the company’s total turnover strengthening its position in the online market.
Nowadays, in the cosmetic & beauty industry, 70% of customers search products online before they actually buy them, which means that social media must play a big role in this. Why? You might be wondering, well, the importance of knowing consumer’s needs and preferences enables companies to come up with tailored ads and maximize their marketing budget. Many industries have transitioned from the classic marketing model into its modern version to further understand consumers and optimize results.
It seems that the upcoming era is digital, the society now is constantly connected with their mobile phones, and people are interacting on social media all the time. Most Chinese people love to share moments of their daily life via Weibo or Wechat, these social mobile applications gather a lot of Chinese young people who are potential online buyers, this is one of the main reasons why this new consumption model results so profitable.
Taking all of this into account, L’Oreal, the global beauty brand, keeps track of trends and maintains strong competence in the Chinese online market. The business credo for the marketing industry “where are the consumers, where are we” is practiced well by L’Oreal. In fact, in the digital marketing revolution, L’Oreal is not only expanding its e-commerce channels, they also apply a complete strategy to digital marketing.
All the product and services have to be digitalized
For instance, on the CES conference in Las Vegas, L’Oreal released a patch for sun-induced skin damage – My UV Patch, helps users track real-time ultraviolet exposure damage on the skin with the help of an App. In addition, L’Oreal has also launched a mobile App called Makeup Genius. The App can help users find their own appropriate makeup. Most Chinese people are shy and they do not dare to try exaggerated makeup, with this App users can try hundreds of makeup options and share on various social platforms. In the future, L’Oreal will try to launch more service-oriented App.
-L’Oreal APP for IOS
Digital involvement into every step of decision-making
In the buying decision process, customers experience 4 steps: identifying, considering, purchasing, and sharing. L’Oreal gets involved in every step of the process. For brand awareness, they launched a video advertisement on the entire media platform of Weibo and Wechat. For the decision-making stage they issued a series of makeup tutorial videos on Youku and finally let the users use social media to share their purchasing experience. With this, the entire consumer decision-making process is digitized.
-L’Oreal official account on Weibo and Wechat
Take this case for example, in the 2015 Cannes Film Festival; L’Oreal launched a video advertisement on Wechat, where L’Oreal’s stars would post their pictures and voice message saying “I am in Cannes, will you come? ” and a link to L’Oreal’s e-commerce page. Through this event L’Oreal attracted a lot of fans and potential customers, and the brand’s social influence was digitalized.
-L’Oreal Cannes Event on Wechat
All brands on digital platforms
Based on the first two points, L’Oreal Group including Lancome, Maybelline, L’Oreal Paris and other brands, try to position themselves, as much as possible, on various digital platforms, that is, “where are the consumers, where are we”. Since, nowadays, almost all of the customers are online, L’Oreal has to be searched and discussed as much as possible by customers in order to gain more popularity in the digital world.
-L’Oreal brands on Weibo
When analyzing L’Oreal’s digital marketing strategy, it is worth noticing that this giant enterprise takes digital marketing as a key element of responding to the rising demand among beauty consumers. The O2O (online-to-offline) model gradually drives the enterprise transforming it into a new business model. Digital marketing could not only develop a new market but also help to create a new CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system for other companies. We believe in the future and Chinese digital marketing will become more and more important in the following years.
Have you learned Chinese yet?
If you have any questions or require any information about our services, please do not hesitate in contacting us, our group of specialists will happily assist you.
This article was edited by Andres Arroyo Olson from 2Open.