SHANGHAI/LONDON: China’s National Day Golden Week holiday has just come to an end, but there are still many ways in which Western brands can target Chinese consumers and a new survey provides essential insights.

Research firm Toluna polled 1,000 consumers in mainland China on behalf of Marketing Week and confirmed that Western brands remain popular, although the majority believe they could do more to engage consumers during Golden Week, such as offering more gifts and bilingual information.

According to the findings, more than half (54%) say TV advertising is the most common way for Western brands to communicate with Chinese consumers, followed by out-of-home marketing (36%) and working with influencers (26%).

However, social media sites are also important because a quarter (25%) engage with Western brands on WeChat, the Chinese instant-messaging service, while a fifth (21%) use Alibaba’s Tmall or the micro-blogging site Weibo (20%).

Another 7% use Zhihu, a Chinese question and answer website, to find out more about British and Western brands.

Asked specifically about the UK, around half (49%) of the survey respondents said they regard the country as a destination for experiences, followed by luxury shopping (31%) and discount shopping (20%).

The research also revealed that Chinese consumers would appreciate brands that promote other aspects of British life and culture rather than just the shopping.

Arnold Ma, CEO of London-based Chinese digital marketing agency Qumin, explained that there are two types of Chinese consumer who are keen to travel abroad and that it’s important for brands to engage with them before they go.

“There’s the emerging middle class, this slightly older generation who are becoming more affluent and want to travel aboard. They buy mid-level luxury items to show off their status and wealth when they go back home,” he said.

“Now the pound is quite weak because of Brexit they’ll come over and buy because it’s cheaper than buying in China,” he added.

“The other group are the younger generation, the kids of the parents who have grown up in the newly affluent China. These 18- to 24-year-olds are more of an audience for destinations, specific experiences and unique things.”

Katie Jansen, CMO of mobile marketing platform AppLovin, agreed with Ma that WeChat and Weibo are the key social platforms that Western brands need to use.

She said WeChat is best for building and maintaining customer relationships, while Weibo is more suitable for advertising the brand and products.

“WeChat should serve as your primary interface with your current clients and your target audience. If content marketing is part of your strategy, use WeChat as a way to spread your message,” she advised.

“Weibo should serve as your channel for promoting your brand/product to your target audience. If you want to create something in the hope that it will go viral, Weibo is the place to go.”

Sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by WARC staff