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Marketing fails in China

Why you need someone else to do the marketing of your company for a specific market?
We are sure you can distinguish an effective marketing campaign from a failure: the effective ones hits way more people, and probably they are affecting you as well. Consider those campaigns which affected you: an automobile manufacturer, a food products brand, your local commercial center or supermarket… is everybody you know having your same opinion to consider those the best choice available? Surely not. Some people like Mercedes, some like Audi and others BMW. They are all good, widely recognized products, but they are made by different companies and meant to similar, yet very different people. So why it happens that not everybody likes the same stuff?
Because everybody has different desires, and needs. No matter how good your product is, you have to accept somebody won’t like it and there is nothing you can do about it.
The good side is that by avoiding to force your business to be perfect for everybody, your work will be much easier and you can get a much more appropriate effect on the people who will need you and your products.

Marketing follows this rule.
There is no point to try to convince a true ecologist to buy a private jet, no matter how rich he is. He just won’t budge.

At the same time, it would be hard to convince even somebody who needs a jet with this kind of message:
“Company mine truly the most better!!!”

Trying to convey a message in a different language using your own culture and points of view as a standard will bring to results even worse than this. Think if somebody spent money to advertise an online dating social network during funerals. What would your reaction be?

How you present yourself to the customer includes everything, and mastering the art of presenting your company and your product in the most appealing way for the right people is true marketing.
Part of the fun is that what works for one culture, won’t necessarily be helpful with another one.
Let’s make an example: McDonald’s exist everywhere, and for some reason a business which was born out of making hamburgers works even in India, country where a huge percentage of population is induist – for whom cows are sacred animals and cannot be eaten.
McDonald’s supposedly gets you the same good ol’ menu all over the world.
That’s false. Each country has special menus based on its food availability (to make sure the food is fresh) and people’s taste and preferences (to make sure people will like it and it won’t hurt their beliefs). No hamburger or Big Mac in India, just like you won’t get pork or alcool in islamic countries.

“Okay” you might say, “But in this case we are speaking about adapting the product, not the way to present the product, right?”
Wrong. If even the product can be changed (and this is a big cost in terms of time and money in a lot of cases) it means everything can be changed according to what is more convenient for the business. Gadgets, advertising methods, marketing texts… everything varies.
Sometimes the differences are quite small and won’t make a huge impact on your business in the short term. Sometimes they are quite huge (even one single thing can make it completely different), and they can destroy your opportunity to make business in that market.

“Okay, clear, so we do not treat people in the same way all over the world. That is simple! As much as we need to use their language, we should also use their culture!”

Right, but slow down. You could end up like Dolce & Gabbana.

D&G got itself burned with Chinese market because of an advertising clearly addressed to China made in a way that it couldn’t be worse for their brand. They could just show the same advertising they made in Italy, even in italian, and Chinese would not get mad. They understood the need to make something different for different people, but they completely got lost elsewhere. As a consequence, their online stores were closed shortly afterwards, and for their business in China (which accounted for a third of their revenues) it was a tragedy. Chinese people demanded apologies for their racist marketing campaign (yes, they have been attacked with these words) and even when they gave in and apologized, they managed to get some of their customers even angrier. They made a mistake even in their apology, which showed where their fault was. The results extended well outside China, backfiring even in the West.
But what was this all about?
They made a marketing campaign based on how they thought China was.
In their videos, they have shown something that reflects the way some italian people see Chinese.
A beautiful girl, eating with chopsticks something that cannot be eaten even with cutlery, receiving a comment in italian from a male such as “Is it too big for you?”
Now, we do not know what was in the mind of the stylists. Perhaps they had a good idea and failed in implementing it. But the result is clear. And the lesson we can learn is clear as well: do not think you know another culture just because you know somebody or you read about their country.
The result? Even more than a year later, D&G still stands for Dead&Gone in China.

You might think it’s pretty easy to know they were wrong, and you would never do this kind of mistake. The problem is not that you might do this specific kind of action, but that you might have a genius idea and implement it like this. Or you may have an idea which is totally unbearable for the Chinese culture. And you do not want to hear 1.4 billion people talking bad about you. It can be very painful.
These things get viral real fast.
D&G wasn’t the first one and won’t be the last one to receive such a backfire from their actions in China.
Just make sure your company is not the next one!

In SinoActive we know how to make a product be liked by Chinese people. Most importantly, we have the knowledge and the experience to help you make a marketing campaign without any creative input from your side. We will both offer you one-time and long term solutions, according to your needs.
Also remember… China has its own version of Facebook, Twitter, Google, Youtube, Quora and so on. Forget the social networks you know: we will take care of using them at your advantage. Our marketing services focus on the usage of those tools to get your business to speed. Like all over the world, social media are extremely powerful for enhancing your business. But for China, a country where making business is so important, social media are even more filled with business advertising than in the Western world. If you want to conquer them, you will need to be more brilliant than your competitors, which usually will be Chinese and know well how to manage their social.

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