China’s rapid digital transformation is now shaping its competitive market globally. This is why more companies and start-ups are now eyeing a China market expansion to grow their business and target consumers.
Be++ featured China Channel Co-founder and Managing Director, Matthew Brennan, who discussed the unique qualities of China’s digital tech market and how businesses can effectively operate in it. With a degree in Economics, Matthew moved from London to China, where he was inspired by the Asian country’s potential as an international digital tech hub. His insights were mainly focused on the new wave of Chinese digital innovation.
In his latest book titled “Attention Factory: The Story of Tiktok & China’s ByteDance,” Matthew elaborated how the Chinese social media platform Tiktok successfully gained global awareness. Matthew noted that this success included a solid digital marketing plan, a special focus on content marketing, and picking up on emerging trends early on. While Tik Tok is ideal to engage consumers and gain a large following, it becomes a challenge to use it to build a brand. Matthew noted that it is possible, but only after considering all significant factors, such as the needs of target consumers.
Start-ups have to focus on creating growth teams that can localize their brand in their target market. For Matthew, this was another successful strategy that Tiktok accomplished. Part of this important strategy is to have local community managers who can establish a brand’s presence and influence, including spending on collaboration with local influencers and celebrities. Businesses that want to expand into the China market should be ready to spend not only on marketing but also on testing their products and services’ traction in the market.
China’s market presents unique opportunities and challenges mainly because of its complex digital infrastructure and dynamics. For example, email marketing is an effective strategy that can work in most Western and Asian countries but not in China. This is because the China market primarily relies on WeChat that is a private and closed digital ecosystem where interactions and transactions take place. Businesses can take advantage of WeChat if they want to test out the market and see if consumers would try and use their product or service.
Venturing into the China market is not cheap, and takes a lot of careful research and planning. A business should be realistic with its digital marketing plans and should be in it for the long term. Overall, the growth outlook for the China market remains positive as more Chinese industries, such as gaming and cosmetics, are expected to expand into the local and global markets.
Grab a copy of Matthew Brennan's book, Attention Factory: The Story of TikTok and China's ByteDance.
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Abhii Dabas is an active member of the tech community, and through his companies (including Webpuppies), he conducts outreach programs across different universities with a focus on entrepreneurship. Over the past months, he has already trained over 1,000 university students to help them prepare to join the workforce.
Matthew Brennan is the co-founder and managing director of China Channel, a Shanghai-based company that provides digital marketing services for businesses that want to tap into WeChat’s potential and expand their presence in the China market. Matthew is also a keynote speaker and author, specializing in Chinese tech digitalization. He is currently based in Mainland China and can speak fluent Mandarin.