NBH CEO Jonathan Kullman and CCO Richard Hårdhänge talked about digital marketing in China, what opportunities exist and the rapid development that is taking place. We focused above all on B2B in China, where digital communication has come to play a greater role.
In Stockholm, were we lucky to have Chris Engström from Eletta Flow as our guest-speaker. Chris shared his experiences from working with China pre-covid and how digitalization has opened up opportunities in reaching China.
In February, Port of Gothenburg welcome us to hold the seminar located at their office-space, and Jacob Minnhagen started the day by talking about his experiences working with China.
It was exciting to finally get out and meet people from the industry, with the same interest as us for China. Thanks to everyone who came, and thanks to everyone who contributed with interesting questions and dialogues!
In China, International Women’s Day (IWD) has received increased attention in recent years. A few years ago, this holiday was recognized more as a tribute to women, similar to Mother’s Day and perhaps Valentine’s Day. But today, IWD is more noticed as a tribute to women’s rights, and women’s progress towards a more equal society.
From a market perspective, this day has almost become a competition about who “celebrates” women the most.
This holiday is also interesting from a market perspective because it shows China’s rapid development in demand, consumer behavior, and the importance of thinking locally.
How is International Women’s Day celebrated in China?
Many companies celebrate the IWD by giving women employees a half day off. Some companies also give small gifts in the form of postcards or perhaps a fruit basket.
“Girls Day” is a festival day in China that is celebrated at universities on March 7, one day before IWD. The Girls Day is celebrated by universities offering different activities, competitions, and meet-ups for girls.
Historically, Women’s Day in China has been celebrated since 1921, but it was in 1949, with the People’s Republic of China, that it became an official holiday. The year of 1950 is also an important landmark with the introduction of the “Marriage law” that keeps women free from arranged marriages, which was a great step for the womens right, and today we see the rise of the She-economy.
Why has Women’s Day in China become so important?
The term “Sheeconomy” found its place in China’s dictionary in 2007. It refers to the new market that emerged from women’s better economic conditions, and increased consumption. In the media, the term was used to describe how women choose careers instead of family and the overall development of gender norms in society.
Today, most articles and debates are focused on how big brands and e-platforms are targeting the “Sheeconomy” in their marketing strategy. According to Alibaba’s Digital B2B Outlook 2023, over 70% of all purchases in households are made by women, including luxury products and online shopping, etc.
This day has been criticized for becoming more of a shopping day. But this, in turn, is also criticized by the younger generation who appreciate that women’s issues are being addressed, even if it is through “shopping”.
How do brands celebrate International Women’s Day in China?
NBH has taken a quick look at marketing trends during International Womens Day in China.
Close to 8 March 2023, the American chocolate brand Hershey made a big success with the launch of a limited collection of the theme HERSHE (HER-SHE) and named the campaign SHEROES (SHE-HEROES). The campaign celebrates International Women’s Day by honoring three women who have contributed positively to society: Wildlife photographer Xu Keyi, volunteer teacher Wan Lijun, and the young artist Wu Xixia.
This had led to #HERSHE being widely spread on social media.
The domestic beauty brand had a similar theme. The Chinese cosmetic brandFlorasis 花西子, celebrated IWD by interviewing three women from different industries about sensitivity (敏感力), is being sensitive and emotional a negative thing?
The theme this year just seems to be a little more down to earth and also pays tribute to the “ordinary woman”.
A promotional video that is still mentioned when talking about IWD, NBH wrote about it last year as well, but it is still worth mentioning, is the beauty brand Proya. This campaign was collab with Women’s Daily 2021.
International Womens Day campaign 2021 – Proya cosmetic.
To summarize, marketing during this years IWD is trending towards softer values. A successful market strategy is to dare to be more personal, integrate with the customer and above all adapt the strategy for China.
A buzzing trend within the B2B sector is the marketing transformation that many companies are undergoing.
Digital marketing has become increasingly important for B2B companies in general, and for those that aim for the Chinese market in particular.
In this guide, NBH talks about Influencer Marketing for B2B, in China often referred to as KOLs (Key opinion leaders) or just Opinion Leaders.
Digital Marketing for B2B
Chinese consumers tend to be more receptive to digital trends and adapt fast to a constantly changing environment. When people in the west think of Influencer Marketing they think of B2C.
Within B2B, business relations have for long been more traditional, in the form of participating in fairs, and events and handing out business cards. The digital transformation that’s taken place within B2C has not reached the same impact in B2B, until now.
This trend has many explanations, primarily digital development, but the pandemic may also be the answer to this rapid change.
Physical meetings are of course still important, but adding a digital presence has become more crucial.
KOLs a.k.a. Opinion Leaders for B2B in China
Collaborations with Opinion Leaders within B2B have come to be an important part of the marketing strategy in China. China has built many platforms that target specific industries. You may recognize digital platforms such as WeChat, Weibo, and Baidu, but there are also many other possibilities and platforms to work with.
To give a few examples…
Zhihu is China’s largest Q&A platform and has a wide variety of industry professionals who provide solid information and is trusted by millions of users. Zhihu should be one of the most prioritized platforms if you as a B2B company want to increase your digital presence. Read our Guide to Zhihu here.
Bilibili is one of China’s largest video platforms. The platform invites quality content and attracts a wide range of targeting groups and industries. On this platform, you have the opportunity to think “outside the box” and push video content. Read our Guide to Bilibili here.
Douyin is “China’s” Tiktok. Here you might feel confused, can it really be for B2B? The answer is yes. In China, the Tiktok platform has a longer history than in the West and is often used for educational and research purposes. Douyin has a wide range of users of different ages. Read NBH Douyin Guide here.
These are just a few examples of how you can increase your online precence.
Collaboration with an Opinion Leader and pushing campaigns is an effective way to increase your visibility, spread your message, gain credibility and more leads.
Because, how will your targeted audience find you if you don’t let them know that you exist?
Pick a “star” of your industry
China’s digital landscape is complex and varies between different geographical areas, sectors, and targeted groups. Therefore, always use an Opinion Leader with a local connection.
Although there are great similarities between more traditional B2C KOL-marketing and Opinion Leaders within B2B, there are also some important differences.
Within B2B, the aim is first and foremost to build trust within your targeted area. Second, to reach as many potential stakeholders as possible. The choice of opinion leader should therefore be made with these two factors in mind.
To increase credibility and trust, you should choose a person with a good reputation, who is, for example, an expert in the field in which you are active. It could be a person with long professional experience, a researcher, or an important name in the industry.
If you are active in wind power, a local researcher with high credibility may be an option. In pharmaceuticals, it can be doctors, etc.
Don’t estimate the value of collab with an Opinion Leader
Just like all marketing, it’s about valuing the cost against the potential effect. The opportunities that a collaboration with an Opinion Leader can provide are huge. And they can add value to your business.
Opinion leaders are the new reality in China. And perhaps the question should not be whether it is too costly to cooperate with them, but rather if you can afford not to.
The market has changed and standing still usually means falling behind.
B2B is undergoing a transformation in its sales process where the digital marketing strategy has become increasingly important. During this event will you learn more about Chinas Digital Landscape and how you as a B2B company can adapt your marketing strategy for China. You will also have the chance to meet other participants that is also working with China.
Last week the seminar was hosted in Stockholm, the next stop will be Gothenburg, and last but not least Malmö!
Next week, February 9, you are welcome to attend our Gothenburg seminar. NBH digital China experts, CEO Jonathan Kullman and CCO Richard Håränge will be there and speak to share their expertise and experience. What, and how can you market yourself digitally in China?
“B2B companies are undergoing a transformation when it comes to digital marketing. Digital presence & campaigns are increasingly important to reach your industry clients in China” – Richard Hårdänge, CCO, NBH.