If we asked Skinny readers to name some differences between a consumer in Beijing and Shanghai we’d be likely to get many responses. There are the obvious observations such as different food preferences, disparate climates, pollution readings and daily commutes. Beijingers pack a few more pounds around the waist and are a little taller. On a deeper level, emotional cues in communications that resonate in Beijing are often markedly different to Shanghai. What they do for fun, the TV shows they talk about, even their ideal weekend or trip abroad are often dissimilar.
Most China marketers appreciate that the country is akin to Europe in its diversity, yet many still employ a fairly homogenous strategy for marketing across China. Even adapting marketing to different city tiers will usually miss an opportunity to be meaningful and relevant to consumers.
Shanghai’s GDP is similar to Thailand’s and its population is greater than Australia’s. Most brands selling in either of those countries would localise, whereas Shanghai often gets the same generic treatment as Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and the other eight megacities with a GDP greater than a trillion RMB.
The size of the China prize has seen her cities become the most contested markets on the planet. As a result the average consumer in Shanghai is bombarded by more than three times the advertising of their British equivalent. With such clutter, brands that miss key functional and emotional cues are unlikely to win and maintain any mindshare.
Fortunately there are big and small initiatives that brands can do to localise their marketing. Online, ecommerce, social media and search platforms all allow clever geographic-specific initiatives. Similarly, in the physical world there are plenty of quick wins and more significant ways to tailor sales, marketing and product development by city and region. Agencies such as China Skinny can assist with understanding differences and developing a strategy to best service these. Go to Page 2 to see this week’s China news and highlights.