By Auckland-based digital marketer Verna Yang: With a population of 1.35 billion, China has become the land of opportunity for New Zealand businesses. With its market scale and potential, there is also the degree of market complexity.
In China, there are thousands of marketing messages being pushed to the audience every second. Navigating through to the desired audience is not an easy task; businesses need a well thought-out communications plan to tackle this extremely competitive market.
Even so, the required marketing budget to break into the Chinese market is still a big risk for small to medium sized New Zealand businesses to take. However, we can still find a solution to open up the gateway to the Chinese market in an effective and affordable manner – and that is to connect to overseas procurement managers (OPMs) in New Zealand.
OPM is a new business service that was born in recent years from the phenomenon of a ‘rich China’. It opens up channels to introduce products that have not yet been made available in China to Chinese consumers. Due to the lack of quality and authentic local products, Chinese consumers turned to OPMs to get their offshore shopping made.
Also, with strict web censorship and language barriers in China, accessing international sites has proven to be a big challenge for Chinese consumers. They rely heavily on OPMs to provide the recommendation, purchasing, and shipping to access foreign products, and this also contributes to the success of an overseas procurement business model.
OPMs are not a minor channel. With e-commerce giant Taobao’s mass buy & sell platform, since 2011, this easy access, low risk and high return business model has intrigued many Chinese overseas students and immigrants to jump on the bandwagon and start offering their procurement services to Chinese consumers.
From luxury brands to confectionery items like milk powders, OPMs cover a wide range of product categories and have become an important channel for Chinese to access high quality, authentic products abroad.
The truth is, when breaking into china, OPMs can play an influential role in business strategy. Take Australian brand Blackmores as an example – although the brand has yet to officially enter China, with the benefit of Cross Border E-Commerce Comprehensive Test Area and the push from OPMs, Blackmores’ 2015 sales revenue soared 36% to A$471 million, with a net profit increase of 67%.
The Chinese market alone, has contributed to the revenue by approximately 40%, and OPMs were a key driver for the growth.
In the past, OPMs primary used e-commerce platforms to do their buy & sell. With the convenience and emergence of social media – Weibo and WeChat – OPM are now relying less on e-commerce platforms.
They are now dealing with Chinese customers through their personal accounts on social media. With their extensive network and customer base, they have become important key opinion leaders in introducing overseas products to Chinese consumers.
Biggest Bang for Buck/Best Marketing Strategy
About 4-5% of the population in New Zealand are Chinese. Every one of this community of 200,000 people, whether they are an overseas student or an immigrant, could be potentially linked to thousands of customers in China and this could open up significant revenue potential for New Zealand businesses.
Being able to connect with OPMs and tap into their network is a key strategy for New Zealand businesses when considering the Chinese market. After all, they are the personal shoppers for Chinese buyers, and have the deciding vote on what ‘star products’ are worth pushing to their loyal Chinese customer base.”
Entering China is not an easy task. Evaluating your options before breaking into the market is recommended. Learning from many successful examples, tapping into the Chinese market locally and raising OPM’s interests on your product, could be your first step to a winning strategy and opening up the gateway to China.
Verna Yang works for Eight Digital Communications, a digital marketing agency specialising in digital PR and performance social media solutions in both NZ and China. Eight Digital Communications works with NZ businesses and advises on strategic marketing ideas to suit the complex Chinese digital media landscape.
Prior to founding Eight Digital, Yang held senior marketing/PR positions in PR agencies and other organisations across Taiwan, China, Australia and New Zealand.
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