Sunday, 20 May 2012

Success in digital China

With more than 500 million Chinese internet users and five million new users coming online each month, the significance of China’s internet as a primary marketing channel cannot be underestimated.
However, many multinationals in China still spend less than 10% of their total ad budgets online. But since digital in China represents a huge mass-market opportunity for brands to engage with Chinese consumers, it is worth investing in it.

This post will cover the ‘smart engagement’ from Mercedes Benz with online Chinese consumers.
Mercedes Benz faced a challenge selling its Smart car. Several campaigns had resulted in high awareness and customer inquiries but did not covert into sales. The time between the initial interest and actual purchase was too long. The inherent nature of a ‘small’ car has limited appeal to the Chinese consumer, and coupled with Smart’s premium price tag, people wavered in their final decision.

E-commerce offered the ideal solution, a platform that encourages impulse buying Smart used the power of social herding by putting the car up for ‘Group Buy’ on, China’s largest e-commerce platform. A web of small brand nudges, including opinion leader seeding stories along with other Taobao resellers creating fashion shoots with the car, were laid out; all leading to the e-commerce platform. A series of ‘one second buy’ opportunities increased the buzz through the campaign – people were able to snap up limited items, including a Smart car for US$0.15. The first 200 cars sold within 3.5 hours and 796 cars were sold in a month, resulting in a ROI of 50:1 and more than 100% sales growth.

Online buzz also exploded – 49% increase in call volume and 34% increase in showroom traffic.

And now think about the other ways how it could have been done.
An online retailer promoting its site using morning drive time radio because the spots receive maximum reach and have an undisturbed exposure situation is great, right? But this can only lead to mental engagement, as the interested listener needs to drive to work, park the car, buy coffee, take the lift, log on to the computer and now, one hour later, has completely forgotten the initial desire to go to the website!

A few retailers are also starting to experiment with m-commerce, allowing products to be purchased from outdoor via QR codes, or via microchips giving discounts from office lift ads, but it’s not yet incorporated with the entire campaign architecture or marketers’ infrastructure.

 And just a final note. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are blocked in China. But there are other social networking sites (well, obviously) – like Weibo – a Chinese version of Twitter.

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