Recently we noticed that a typically low-selling product we stock had an unusual spike in sales over the week. Upon further investigation, we found a famous and heavily followed style blog in China had recently posted an article about the make-up and skincare products used by Emma Watson – one of which was of course our product.

The use of influencers is not a new concept. While originally more focused on using celebrities to sell products, this has been extended to having popular bloggers and YouTube personalities either endorse or test products as a form of advertising. While there is some discussion about the usefulness of this as consumers become more aware of sponsored advertising, the power of influencers in China is unrivalled.

China’s technological culture and digital market are vastly different to what we experience in the West. The lines between social media and e-commerce are becoming increasingly blurred where popular IM and social apps such as WeChat are renowned for their payment services. Furthermore, with the highly competitive market for products (manufacturing, population, fake products, growth of import etc., more details in a future post), social-media has become a critical touch point for consumers in deciding what to buy through product reviews and friends recommendations.

The value of influencers is clear – a sponsored endorsement means someone a consumer trusts is recommending your product. With the volume of competition in China, being able to put real authenticity and charisma behind your brand is a must. Coupled with the sheer size of followings that some popular influencers have, it is possible to have your brand reach hundreds of millions of followers.

There are of course difficulties in using international influencers. If planning on selling your product in China, you would need to consider how you would clearly communicate with, and build relationships with them. Furthermore, you would need to know who their key demographics are, how to contact them and work around both language and distance barriers.

In China, luxury and speciality shops are not as common as the West due to the massive use of e-commerce, so creating a strong digital advertising strategy is essential. When expanding it is important to not only consider the import/export logistics, but also how advertising will work – a task made difficult as you need to adapt your plan to the culture.

Consultation with someone who can advise, or has existing relationships with influencers is essential in breaking into the market as you will require translation, a new or adapted advertising strategy and be able to identify your target audience for that country.

If looking to expand to China, visit our main website for information about how we can help you with understanding the Chinese markets with both free and paid advertising in China. If your scope is beyond what we are capable of, we can also provide information for international marketing specialists.

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