The China market brings tremendous energy to the global economy, especially in the midst of the pandemic. In the post-COVID era, given the unpredictable global economy, China’s consistently growing market keeps attracting new investors and entrepreneurs who want to enter the China market and leverage the country’s high-speed development.
What we usually call “China market entry” is an abstract and broad concept. On the surface, it sounds like a simple action. But dive below the surface, and that action is actually connected to a whole systemic framework from macro to micro. If you think of a brand as a person, there is no doubt that entering an unknown space will make that person feel lost. To help eliminate uncertainties, getting to know this new space is the most important thing before stepping inside. Conducting market and consumer research help systematically explore this new space, increase knowledge and reduce uncertainties, which helps enterprises to find a clear direction for their sustainable success in China.
During the early phase of China market entry, building up sufficient knowledge of the China market plays a vital role. This process can be divided into three levels: macro level, meso level and micro level. From the whole to the details, strategizing from these three levels can help brands gain a comprehensive understanding of the China market before they make the leap.
「Macro-Level: Understanding the country and its culture 」
China’s actual conditions, overall economic development trends, current policy direction, fundamental culture and values orientation, etc.
「Meso-Level: Understanding consumer habits in the industry 」
Overall industry situation, business model, consumer behavior, competitor analysis, cooperation, etc.
「Micro-Level: Understanding popular trends in the market 」
Brand concept, marketing strategy, visual design, copywriting and publicity, channels to launch, etc.
Based on analysis from these three levels, we can understand the current China market more clearly and integrate that understanding into greater in-depth business development.
At Brand Entre., we conduct systematic research to help enterprises from abroad understand the China market, from the elementary to the profound. We do it like this:
1. Desk Research: We collect information and data on the enterprise, the enterprise’s industry, consumption trends, market trends and competition patterns. We analyze that data to generate an overview of the market and where the enterprise fits in that market. The objective is to use the knowledge of the industry market to lay the foundation for further research.
2. Field Visit: Equipped with the findings from our desk research, we get out into the real world to test our theories, observe and collect information. We put ourselves in real markets and consumption situations, so that we can get the most first-hand and objective market information, such as the current market condition of product varieties, competitor brands, consumer feedback, brand performance, ways of communication and so on. Combining the information from both our field visits and desk research ensures our findings will be authentic and more full-scale. Our methods also keep us up to speed in swiftly changing markets and informed on the specific opportunities and challenges.
3. In-depth Interviews: We conduct one-to-one interviews customized for potential consumers, cooperation partners and professionals in the industry. The interview questions are designed to collect insights on consumer cognition, behaviors, brand impressions and so on. Interviews can dig deeper into consumers’ motives behind making certain choices, focused factors, interests and more, which provides vital pieces of the puzzle when building an enterprise’s brand and marketing strategy. Based on these consumer findings, we can creatively explore and formulate effective marketing communication plans.
4. Competition Analysis: There are competitors analysis and reference cases analysis in this stage. We conduct in-depth analysis on similar brands with direct or indirect competition in the same market, including dimensions such as the business model, brand concept, marketing model and visual design. In reference cases analysis, we select and analyze brands that have commonality and reference values but don’t constitute direct or indirect competition (including brands in the same industry and in different industries), in order to extract and study the valuable parts. Brand analysis helps to deepen the knowledge of the market and consumer trends. It also hands over valuable and accurate information on market positioning that enterprises can use for inspiration and business execution.
5. Consumer Profile: Based on the findings from the competition analysis, we create profiles for potential consumers to identify target groups in the market. This link is vital to the process, as it incorporates information on consumers’ natural features, social features and behavioral preferences to visualize who they really are. We can use this profile to comprehensively analyze their “pain points” as well as their “likes and dislikes.”
6. Market Positioning & Brand Strategy:
In this stage, we use the key insights and discovery extraction from our research on the market and consumers to design a strategic positioning scheme for brand development, which includes strategic vision, strategic mission, a positioning manifesto and more.
As mentioned, if you think of a brand as a person, then when that person decides to enter a new room, it is not only about taking this step. It is also about preparing, thinking about why that person wants to enter the room and what that person wants to achieve once they get inside. In other words, what we need to consider is not only the moment a brand enters a market, but also the systematic strategy needed from the start to ensure that brand will enjoy sustained success in its new market.
After researching and evaluating the market and consumption trends, we step into the process of creating the brand concept, story, naming, visual identity and so on. We will also start planning and running publicity and Chinese media campaigns. We base our entire creative process, including the marketing strategy and channels to launch, on the key insights gathered from the market research stage, to ensure we meet both the market development trends and consumers’ demands.
China is a huge market with enormous energy and potential. But it’s also fiercely competitive. Risks always accompany opportunities. Making sure your enterprise is equipped with exceptional on-the-ground research and a clear understanding of the China market in the early stages will smooth your path, give you an upper hand in a complex environment, and provide you the confidence needed to stride into the future.