We at Nordic Friend have been helping travel industry for more than three years to reach the Chinese audience. In many places around the world, the Chinese is the single most important target audience due to the high growth rate in bookings and highest spending amongst all segments. Quite often, we face the same questions since many organizations are building a basic understanding of the market. Here, I have summed up some of the most common discussion points and I hope it can help you to build your growth plan towards the Chinese audience.
1) Define Your Target Audience
China is 1,4 billion population. “Chinese” as an audience is too vague. The outbound tourism in China is broken down in multiple niches, from older group travelers to luxury travelers and from honey-mooners to millennial friend-groups. It is the single most important thing to decide what is your core target audience amongst them, because this will affect everything you plan and do later.
“It is the single most important thing to decide what is your core target audience”
2) Ensure Your Product Fit
Now that you have decided you target audience, you probably have thought about the offering you have and based on that made some decisions. But is the product now as it is fitting for the audience. Are the activities, services, experiences something that your Chinese target audience is looking for? Does the on-site experience match the expectations? You probably need to do at least some level of product design to fit your offering better for the target group.
“You probably need to do at least some level of product design to fit your offering better for the target group.”
3) Localize Your Brand Concept
In order to stand out from the competition (in both B2B and B2C context), your brand needs to be appealing to the target audience as well as use the strengths of your product. The localized brand concept combines a Chinese perspective with your brand. Depending on your current brand, you may need to localize all your brand assets or tailor your brand positioning on the Chinese market.
“You may need to localize all your brand assets or tailor your brand positioning on the Chinese market.”
4) Localize Your Content
To do effective brand communications in China, your story-telling needs to be localized to the culture and the local media (channels). Do not hire a translation agency to translate your marketing material; instead hire professional copywriters and content creators who can design your content (both written and visual) in order to be appealing for the Chinese audience in the chosen Chinese marketing channels. Try to understand the modern Chinese culture and customer journey more, it’s far more diverse and complicated than just offering hot water.
“Hire professional copywriters and content creators who can design your content to be appealing for the Chinese audience in the chosen Chinese marketing channels.“
5) Create A Channel Strategy For China
The Chinese media and digital landscapes are completely different from the rest of the world. Due to isolation of western online ecosystem, China has created one of its own. China is relying heavily on a mobile ecosystem, and 97% of the usage of internet happens on these platforms instead of traditional internet browsing. You should focus on the channels that matter for your target audience. In general, we suggest you to think about your long-term strategy on social platforms (WeChat, Weibo, and newly emerged Douyin and Xiaohongshu), Chinese OTAs (Ctrip, Fliggy, Qunar ect.), and other online travel platforms (Mafengwo, Qyer) for B2C engagement and selected offline channels for B2B sales and trade marketing (Fairs, Roadshows, Events, Personal matchmaking).
“97% of the usage of internet happens on these platforms instead of traditional internet browsing.”
6) Build your own understanding about the Chinese travel market and select partners carefully
Your team should have a good understanding of the market – it is necessary in order to manage effectively your activities in China. It also helps you to assess the quality of your agencies, stakeholders and partners. Educate yourself and your team about the market: a first step would be to visit China and talk with industry professionals. Hiring a Chinese agency to help you through your journey in China is a must. It will not only make things easier, but also ensure your investments generate revenue for both short and long-term (but don’t expect short-term jackpots, always commit to long-term). Make sure all areas of business are being taken care of either by your in-house team or a partner. Some areas of expertise require deep up-to-date information on the constantly changing environment, so this should be a guiding line when you are comparing the options of in-housing and hiring an external consultant.
“Your team should have a good understanding of the market – it necessary in order to manage effectively your activities in China.”
We hope that these basic principles can get help you get started in generating more outbound tourism from China for your travel business. Nordic Friend provides top industry expertise and outsourcing services on the travel market. Together with our selected premium partners we are able to build an end-to-end, actionable growth plan for the Chinese market.
Jesse Ketonen, Chairman, Nordic Friend