In 2020, the past few months have been tough for Australian brands. But they have been even tougher for Australian brands that rely on Chinese customers.
As early as January Chinese customers in Australia started to change their spending in response to COVID-19. They could see the devastating impacts on the health and freedom of family and friends back home in China and proceeded to unfollow and turn off from brands trying to sell to them during this time.
Australia was operating as usual, and with the virus contained in China, it was difficult for local brands to understand why so many local Chinese were in almost a form of self-imposed local lockdown.
With China now entering what seems to be a cautionary recovery phase and talking about rolling back restrictions, the role of Chinese customers in our retail recovery will be key – many have been spending conservatively for some time and are primed to re-enter the market.
So how can you leverage this?
In China, a range of giant conglomerates have long competed against each other to drive billions of dollars in sales through one-day branded shopping festivals. The kinds of shopping events that make Black Friday look like a regular Monday morning in Myer. You’ve probably heard of the buying frenzy that happens around Chinese New Year and maybe you’ve caught wind of Singles Day. But there are even more.
As Australian brands consider the coming months and how to move inventory, they should also be considering how to leverage the following Chinese shopping days:
- 6.18 Shopping Festival: while this was created by e-commerce platform JD.com to celebrate its June 18 anniversary, many more retailers have jumped on board over the years. This is the number one shopping event to capitalise on in the next three months
- National Golden Day Week on October 1, which kicks off a week-long holiday during which many travel and shop. Brands should be thinking and planning for this as it is absolutely massive
- The mammoth Singles Day on 11 November regularly breaks sales records – think US$43 billion in sales over 24 hours
- The smaller but sweet 520 Day on May 20, which is a kind of Valentine’s Day for the young and internet enabled where they trade cute gifts
Australian brands can absolutely leverage these events here, down under, but it has to be through the right channels and in a manner that demonstrates they understand the audience.
Few retailers have adequately communicated with this audience before and subsequently have few Chinese customers on their books. This means building a Chinese consumer journey including establishing the right channels, as well as the right payment options.
WeChat is the most well-known channel of choice for Chinese – click here for a primer on what it is. In Australia, it acts as your Chinese website, serving up great content that appeals to Chinese culture and buying behaviours; it is your online Chinese-speaking customer service, connecting your salespeople to customers. WeChat Group is an online community that helps brands more deeply understand consumers, while Weibo is just as important and is a great place to drive reach with KOLs and leverage market trends. Being on these channels is critical, but you also need to build in payment mechanisms like WeChat and Alipay. You should also think about incentives, paid media and leveraging KOLs to drive more reach and success.
We see great opportunity for alcohol and giftware brands for 520 Day, while there is plenty of scope for fashion, beauty, automotive and many more over Golden Week and 6.18. Not sure where to start? We can help.