If you’re an e-commerce brand that sells to Chinese online shoppers, then it’s essential that you know about Golden Week and are prepared for it. Golden Week in China 2018 falls between October 1-7 and it’s a huge holiday in the Chinese calendar, created to stimulate travel and spending as part of a national celebration.

Seizing the opportunity
Golden Week in China 2018 may be designed to celebrate the creation of the People’s Republic of China, but it also sees a significant surge in spending at Western brands. Last year, as part of the international travel surge stimulated by Golden Week, Chinese tourists spent £29m in the UK’s shopping centres and £11m in London alone (Source: www.independent.co.uk). Spending by the average Chinese visitor was also a healthy £1,478 (Source: www.chinadaily.com.cn); representing an attractive target market for Western e-commerce brands, whether they operate solely in the online space, or sell through a blend of physical stores and digital retail channels. Even more enticingly, research suggests that Western brands are seen as being desirable by 83 per cent of Chinese shoppers (Source: www.marketingweek.com).

Planning ahead
If you’re keen to maximise the opportunity of Golden Week in China 2018, then it’s time to start planning your marketing campaign strategy ahead. Chinese online shoppers are a huge market, but as the world’s largest middle class they are also demanding and courted by a huge number of large Western brands with sophisticated marketing strategies, an in-depth knowledge of the Chinese market and the support of specialist Chinese marketing agencies.

Activities which must be factored in

1. Research and plan
With a population of nearly 1.38 billion people, Western brands must position themselves carefully to attract their desired segment of Chinese online shoppers. As Golden Week in China 2018 is just around the corner, it’s also essential to start planning quickly. Marketers must understand target audiences, buyer personas, appropriate channels and the demographics that influence Chinese buyer behaviour, which include cultural factors, regionalism, socio-economics and politics.

Successful e-commerce retailers will realise that they cannot simply rework their Western marketing campaigns into Chinese language versions and expect them to succeed. The insights and knowledge provided by a specialist Chinese marketing agency can greatly speed up the effectiveness and outcome of this vital preparatory stage, in order to create the right multi-channel marketing strategy that will achieve desired conversions whilst remaining within budget.

2. Think about experiences
Quirky, innovative and engaging campaigns are essential to stand out from the crowd. With the target audience identified, Western e-commerce brands can consider marketing tactics that will add a little extra for Golden Week. For example, the Cambridge Satchel company promotes its red satchels for the week – an auspicious colour – and offers complimentary gift-wrapping. Watches of Switzerland launched a WeChat quiz that matched Chinese players’ personalities with hidden travel gems around their Regent Street store in London and a virtual shopping list for their products (Source: www.marketingweek.com). High-end stores such as Harvey Nichols employ Chinese-speaking staff instore – which e-commerce brands could offer via online chat services, along with familiar payment platforms such as AliPay, WeChatPay and China UnionPay. Western brands can also offer special Golden Week discounts, add-on gifts and tax refunds, as well as ensuring that their website has bilingual information, ad banners and homepage displays that welcome Chinese visitors and content that promotes the attraction of British culture, life and products as part of the marketing process.

2. Focus on social platforms
Chinese online shoppers are sophisticated digital buyers and hyper-social when it comes to their online experiences. Successful e-commerce brands will leverage their digital presence by curating appealing content which focuses on experiences, lifestyle and Western culture. Again, this content must be targeted. For example, older Chinese online buyers tend to appreciate Western luxury goods and younger buyers crave unique experiences. Western brands must also ensure that they have a presence on the right social media platforms, such as WeChat for brand engagement and advertising (and particularly popular with younger Chinese users) and Weibo for image sharing. Remember too that these platforms are still relevant when Chinese visitors are in the UK – they use social platforms such as WeChat to communicate with friends at home about what they have seen and bought.

3. Baidu PPC
As China’s biggest search engine, Western e-commerce brands will want to invest in PPC activity on Baidu and leverage these efforts with a Chinese language website which is seamlessly enabled for mobile. However, Baidu has a complex application process for Western brands, who are advised to allow three months to navigate the administration required to be approved for advertising in advance of Golden Week. One key way around this is to use a Chinese marketing agency who can overcome hurdles and achieve faster approval.

4. WeChat and Weibo KOLs
The Chinese market values its Key Opinion Leaders, who use their social media brands to influence their vast numbers of followers. Akin to an Instagram influencer in the West, these KOLs on WeChat and Weibo will share sponsored content on their feeds that their followers will trust and naturally feel an affinity with. Again, a Chinese marketing agency can identify the right KOLs for Western B2C e-commerce brands and engage with them successfully to ensure sponsored content is shared to the desired timeframe, in advance of Golden Week.

5. User testing
Whether you create a dedicated Chinese website or offer a Chinese landing page within your existing e-commerce website, it’s important that your digital assets are working seamlessly and without any glitches. Equally, the content you create to share across your social platforms and with KOLs must be sure to resonate with your target audience in China. User testing can help you to get this right quickly and to minimise delays so that your marketing plan is ready to roll out in advance of Golden Week.

6. Offline activity
Don’t forget about your PR (including ePR for this highly digital nation!), outdoor advertising, print advertising, TV advertising and other channels, including events. Carefully targeted offline activities can be used to complement your digital marketing to leverage its effect and to increase awareness before the big event!

Find out more
Keen to put your marketing budget to its best possible use during Golden Week in China 2018? Achieve the conversions that you need with the help of our expert team of Chinese marketing professionals at Market Me China. Contact us for a no obligation chat in the first instance to discover how we can help and to better access this vast and lucrative consumer market.