We will show you what you need to know about (online-) marketing in China

“Have no fear of other cultures or rules!“

Chamber of Commerce and Industry - Head of International Business Axel Sir

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry IHK Schwaben anchored China with the "China Competence Center CCC" in its country focus. The sole purpose being to inform companies on topics like Swabian-Chinese business relations, providing useful advice for posting employees abroad or reports about changes in the field of certification. Since increasingly more CADENAS customers are informing themselves about marketing strategies in China, we asked the Head of International Business from The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Schwaben Axel Sir to give his personal assessment on various topics.

Why WeChat is a must and only numbers in an email address is totally okay

Mr. Sir, the “CCC” at the IHK Schwaben in Augsburg is a starting point for companies that would like to establish business relationships with China. CADENAS also has a branch office in Shanghai and therefore is especially often asked by its customers how (online-) marketing can be effectively realized in China. Can you give us an assessment of this and explain the biggest differences between China and Germany?

Basically it is important that the website of a non-Chinese company is written in Chinese and not in English, since people interested in the website and the product feel more secure and taken seriously when they read their native language.

The font color can remain in black, there is no difference to Germany. As far as we know, it is important to use many pictures with backgrounds that should be colorful. Also in China, personal relationships are the basis for good business relationships – the more good contacts there are, the more likely companies and business people will get access to markets and companies in general.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Swabia Logo

This is already very important information. What would you especially focus your attention on?

An absolute must is the social app WeChat by Tencent – without it no business relations work in China. The reason is that this app unites so many platforms: Messenger, shopping opportunities, finances, email, etc. WeChat is very widespread and it is usual among companies and business people to make appointments with the app. Although Facebook is available as media for B2B communication in Germany, it is currently not so commonly used. Business people in China however, directly ask if you have a WeChat account.

WeChat Logo
QQ.com Logo

How many users does Tencent have for its email sector (QQ) and how many for WeChat?

Current figures show 100 million users on QQ and 650 million users on WeChat. I can well imagine it since, as I’ve said, WeChat is a must in China. The Social App is free, and generally easy to use – a Wifi access is sufficient.

What else can you tell us about using mobile devices?

Mobile devices seem to be generally used, both in China and in Germany. In fact, meanwhile there are more smartphones than tower PCs in China. In addition, I suppose a smartphone is preferred on the go than a tablet. As far as we know, regarding marketing in general, it is common to target the urban population rather than the rural. This is probably due to the fact that there is often no or only unstable internet in the country, and that smartphones are more frequently present in urban areas than in rural areas.

Social Communities China

It is well known that Google, Facebook or other platforms do not exist in China and that there is no corresponding Chinese counterpart. Is that true for all areas?

In any case, there are many different Chinese platforms offering a similar range. There is s Youku as video platform, Sina for blogging, QQ as email provider or the search engine Weibo. For marketing, however, I would restrict myself to only one or two platforms, for instance WeChat and Weibo. It actually depends on what you would like to offer and what is useful for marketing.

We heard from colleagues in Shanghai that engineers within the same company do not have an email address. If they would like to have information or download 3D CAD models, they need a private email address.

In fact, there is information that the use of business email addresses is not uniformly conducted in China. Sometimes employees cannot access the internet in the company due to reasons of security or data protection. Often it depends on the size of the business, whether employees get their own email address and whether they would like it. However, it is quite conceivable that private e-mail addresses are also used for business purposes.

What is the most popular email address in China?

QQ is very common and popular, also Hotmail. There are also email addresses that are rather unusual for Europeans, since they include many numbers.

That means, the form of the address is different and appears to Europeans to be spam. However, these are common e-mail addresses in China?

The type is different, because it includes many numbers. For instance, there is www.126.com or www.163.com. In China, these two providers are just as popular as GMX or WEB in Germany.

126.com Logo
163.com Logo

In China, these two providers are just as popular as GMX or WEB in Germany. When you register, you can do so with your cell phone number. Then the address could look like this: 01711234567@126.com.cn. This way you can also invite friends via QQ on the smartphone.

Addresses like these seem strange to Europeans. Especially the ones with @126.com and @qq.com are very confusing, since Europeans do not know these providers. But the general rule is: No matter what comes before an @-sign - it is a normal email address and no spam - of course you still should be careful.

To conclude, do you have a small hint for our customers wanting to establish or extend their business activities in China?

The best thing is always to be open to new possibilities and have no fear of other cultures or rules. A little background knowledge about the country is always helpful and of course, you should always keep track of with whom you build up contact to. Control is good, but should not define the business relationship too much. Our "China Competence Center" can help you.

Mr. Sir, thank you very much for the interview!

Do you have more questions about marketing in China, WeChat or Chines email addresses? Please do not hesitate to contact us under Marketing@cadenas.de or give us a call at +49 821 258 580-0.

The China Competence Center of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry IHK Schwaben in Augsburg is a service for Swabian and Chinese companies. For more information, seer: www.schwaben.ihk.de

Read also our interview with Yi Lan, Managing Director of CADENAS China Ltd. In Shanghai.