22 July 2019
Cracking the code – How to make your business succeed in the Asian market
If your company is going to enter the Asian market, it requires doing your homework properly first. The following blog post, by Thomas Wagner, is a good place to start.
Asia is the most populous continent, but it is not only the populations that are growing – so are the economies. This is why Asia is of interest for many companies that want to increase their revenue. But as anyone who has travelled to Asia knows, there is much that is very different to that which we are used to in the West. This applies to culture, languages, and ways of doing business. And you will do well to familiarise yourself with those differences, otherwise you risk losing money faster than a pack of casino tourists in Macau …
The following is a brief introduction to some of the things you should be aware of if you want to promote your business in one or more of the Asian markets. It is written on the basis of the experiences I have gained from numerous campaigns for different clients and over a number of years.
It takes knowledge
If your company is going to enter the Asian market, it requires a high level of knowledge about the country and the local culture – probably more than anywhere else in the world.
And if you are going to establish a long-term presence in some of the world’s largest and most competitive markets, such as Malaysia, you need to have a unique and personalised marketing campaign that focuses on the most popular platforms for online communication. So how do you achieve this marketing campaign?
Use mobile phones to become a part of your customers’ lifestyle
If you are going to introduce a product or service in Asia, the mobile platform is the first you should optimise for. We all know the “mobile first” mantra here at home, but in Asia it makes even more sense. Not everyone has a PC, but almost everyone has a smartphone.
A mobile app is a direct communication channel to your customers, which makes it possible to send promotional messages, including offers and discount codes.
But before you even begin to develop a mobile app, you need to make sure that your website is optimised for mobile use. If you are going to generate sales, it is essential to provide a seamless customer experience online to customers browsing on mobile.
Last but not least, you should consider the increased use of social media on mobile. For example, the mobile platform Chinese consumers most frequently use is WeChat. As a consequence, many brands have created official accounts on the network, enabling customers to contact them at any time via a communications platform that they know and love.
Strategic localisation is essential to overcoming cultural differences
Introducing a product or service to Asian consumers requires a unique marketing strategy based on the country’s specific culture and languages. If your product is already successful in Western countries, don’t be tempted to use the same materials and techniques when it comes to capturing the attention of Asian consumers.
As I mentioned in my introduction, there are big differences between markets in the East and in the West – cultural, linguistic and behavioural. With these differences in mind, it may make sense to seek help from a professional translator who already has experience in developing strategies for localisation.
If you are working with a specialist who understands how your customers communicate, you’re well on track to delivering your brand message in a way that resonates with the target audience.
Learn how to optimise your online presence on local social networks
Because of its digital censorship, the rest of the world’s most popular SoMe platforms are not available in China – the country with the largest population (roughly one-fifth of the Earth’s inhabitants). To increase your product’s visibility among network users, the business needs to adapt to the communication platforms that are available in the country whose market you are attempting to enter.
This is true whether we are talking WeChat in China or LINE in Japan. Find out where your customers spend most of their time when they are online. It will help you to engage them on a more personal level.
Content-driven campaigns – a winning marketing tactic
If your target audience is Chinese consumers, you have to understand the importance of quality content – the earlier, the better. If you are considering recycling your old marketing campaigns by translating them and adding a few local images, you may was well give up on any hope of success in the market.
To succeed you need to work with a team that can produce content that will resonate in the consumers’ cultural and economic background. In other words, you must present your brand story in a local context.
When you succeed, your business will be perceived as being aware and respectful of its foreign customers and their culture. And that will be rewarded with their mutual trust and respect – while also helping to differentiate your business from numerous competitors.
Alignment is key
It is indeed challenging to crack the code to success in Asian markets. But with the necessary efforts, you will in turn be rewarded with a loyal customer base that will relate to your brand image and be interested in the products you launch.
For this to happen, however, you need to align your marketing strategy and your strategy for content development, so that you focus not only on translating old materials, but also on working with language specialists to create new, customised content.
I began by saying that it requires a certain insight to enter the Asian market. This was just an introduction. If you are ready for more information – for example, why it is important to have people on the ground in Asia – please do not hesitate to contact me. I and my colleagues in Asia can alsoadvise you more specifically in relation to your particular industry and the markets you are aiming for.