What brands get wrong about China – and how to put it rightJune 12, 2019
In April, Burger King was forced to pull a promotional video it had aired in New Zealand following an angry reaction from consumers living 11,000km away.
The video, which featured a customer trying to eat burgers with chopsticks, had caused an outcry in China. Dolce & Gabbana suffered a similar fate last year after the company posted a video of a model trying to eat pizza and spaghetti with chopsticks, a move which ultimately led to a boycott of their products in China.
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These examples demonstrate not only the importance of understanding and being sensitive to Chinese consumers’ tastes and views – they also show how getting it wrong can have an enormous – and global – impact for brands.
Today, companies need to think beyond their tried-and-true branding strategies, marketing gimmicks and celebrity endorsements. As the Chinese consumer becomes more sophisticated, companies have to put in the work to really understand the Chinese market in order to gain relevance and market share – and they have to be aware, too, of how their actions in other markets may still influence their image in China.
Enhanced transparency builds trust and creates value
Nong Fu Spring, a Chinese mineral water and fresh produce brand, has effectively leveraged behavioral research to build trust and inspire brand loyalty. In 2016, Nongfu Spring launched its ‘17.5° digitally traceable orange’, which allows consumers to scan a QR code in order to find out where their orange comes from, how it was grown, its growing process, and other details regarding its quality.
These oranges sell for a premium on the Chinese e-commerce marketplaces – double the price, in fact, of similar brands of oranges that originate from the same region. Why do 17.5° oranges sell well despite their price premium? Behavioural research suggests the following factors have helped to build confidence in the 17.5° product among end-consumers:
(1) Creating a benchmark that consumers can use
The perception of sweetness varies from person to person. By adopting an industry standard to quantify sweetness (in this case 17.5%), consumers have a benchmark they can use to…