Guest post: How do the Chinese use communication channels differently?

Grace Zhou

Chinese businesses and consumers have on their hands similar channels of communication as we do. However, did you know they are often used in slightly different ways? Grace Zhao runs China Unbound, the London China Business Accelerator. In anticipation of their new Chinese Business Culture course, here are some of the subtle but important differences:

  • Face to face is still the best way to establish new and nurture existing relationships. Nothing builds a relationship more than seeing each other face to face, having a meal, or even singing some drunken Karaoke together (yes, the socialising bit is important when doing business with the Chinese people and we will cover more in our course). The key thing is to remember that it takes time to build relationships and it’s more the case when doing business with Chinese people. Invest time in building the relationships before you expect the return (read more in my blog Lessons learnt expanding to China’s Tier 1 cities).
  • Mobiles – One thing different about Chinese businessmen is that many of them answer their mobiles wherever they are, whatever they are doing – in a meeting, at the dinner table, on holiday or at a family gathering. I was once told by a recruiter friend that a Chinese HR manager picked up the phone during an interview with a candidate and was on it for over 20 minutes. Not great if you were the candidate, but the point is, if you are trying to reach your Chinese clients/partners/agents urgently, you have a better chance in reaching them on mobile than you do in the UK.
  • Emails – you may see even in some larger, well-established companies, employees still use their own private email account for business use. As a result, email addresses can often change due to excessive spam and you may not be notified about it.
  • Social Media – the Chinese are constantly on Social Media, especially through mobile devices (you are probably aware that Chinese Mobile Internet users have already overtaken desktop users back in 2012). They use it more and they are also influenced by it more (as they are deemed a more reliable source having come from friends and family). In our recent China Online Marketing talk, our speaker Arnold Ma from Qumin showed us a really interesting app which Durex developed to engage Chinese consumers on WeChat. The app is an art gallery where visitors can walk around and view different artworks. Each artwork is tied to a Durex product. Visitors can go to the store within the app and purchase products directly from their phones. There are also gamification elements in it (and it’s a big thing for the Chinese), for example, visitors can collect keys and open doors which will then take them to other parts of the art gallery.

In short, Chinese social media are a dominant platform to reach Chinese businesses and consumers, so make sure it’s part of your marketing strategy!

In less than 3 weeks, China Unbound in partnership with Active Anglo Chinese Communications will be launching the first intake of our Crash Course on Chinese Business Culture + Survival Mandarin (starting 9 July). We will explain more about these platforms and how you can take advantage of them in our course plus more tips in our Meeting, Networking and Relationship Building module so make sure to sign up for our course! Click now for full programme information. Limited spaces left and the early bird offer will end on 26 June.

Social media reach Chinese businesses and consumers. Make sure it’s part of your marketing! Click To Tweet
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